Nebula over Rock Formation (Kyle Goetsch/Unsplash) and Rappelling between Two Hundred-Foot Walls (Blake Cheek/Unsplash). Weaving by Kayla Savard.

Prepare for landing: InterPlanetary Transmissions: Stardust is headed to bookshelves near you.

This newest book from the SFI Press is a record of the proceedings of the second annual InterPlanetary Festival, which drew more than 8,000 people to the Railyard Park in Santa Fe, New Mexico June 14-16, 2019. The weekend festival, nicknamed “Stardust,” invited panelists and participants into conversations about the big obstacles standing between us and life on other planets.

“We’re living on a very densely populated Earth where the implications of a single individual’s actions percolate across the whole planet,” says David Krakauer, SFI President and co-editor of the new book. “Space is a laboratory for us to get things right.” 

The InterPlanetary Festival has served as a zealous, if cautionary, simulation engine for new societal structures, economic paradigms, and sustainable practices. “InterPlanetary Transmissions: Stardust” contains transcripts of the festival’s panels, paired with panelist-written introductions. Many of the panels explored how a single idea, decision, or even random event can have lasting, broad impacts. What better challenge than space travel, the festival organizers wonder, to unite humanity and find creative solutions to Earth’s biggest challenges. 

Now, in Summer 2020, COVID-19 presents a new unifying challenge. This global catastrophe has demonstrated how entangled and broken our planetary systems are. Our survival depends on a collective effort to intervene in various networks, across all scales. Many of the thought experiments captured in the transcripts and essays in this book speak directly to some of the most urgent concerns we face amid this global pandemic.

In “World Building,” speculative fiction author Rebecca Roanhorse describes how her choice to center Navajo peoples in her books celebrates their resilience, while Marcelline Mandeng and Cyree Jarelle Johnson highlight Black proximity to death due to hereditary diseases and lack of access to life-saving materials in “Creative Black Futures.” In “Time,” Colleen Murphy discusses her research on aging, and in “Extremophile Cities,” we see how dense, urban environments are often hit hardest by diseases. These panels offer striking observations as COVID-19 is now wreaking disproportionate havoc on the Navajo Nation, in Black communities, among the elderly, and in cities.

In this era of COVID-19, as the world’s citizenry practices social distancing and stay-at-home measures, in this time of extreme global groundedness, we still feel the pull of two sometimes-seemingly incongruous desires. “The first is the conscious effort to design solutions for problems that threaten our planetary citizenship,” writes Caitlin McShea, co-editor and Director of the InterPlanetary Festival, in the book’s introduction. “And the other is an ever-present veneration for an alluring, exotic, and unfamiliar life in space, where the plagues of Earth won’t be as easily felt.”


InterPlanetary Transmissions: Stardust
Edited by David C. Krakauer and Caitlin L. McShea
$ 9.99 (Paperback); $2.99 (eBook)
Publisher and imprint: SFI Press Compass Series
251 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947864-32-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-947864-34-4
Publication Date: July 8, 2020
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