Book Review: “Red Dwarfs Make The Best Homes” by Seth Lukas Hynes (@SethHynes)

Red Dwarfs Make The Best Homes (2023) by Seth Lukas Hynes

Red Dwarfs Make The Best Homes, by local author and The Star Mail’s film reviewer Seth Lukas Hynes, is a collection of science essays and science fiction about space colonisation.

The book opens with three in-depth and informative essays, where the author introduces the Kardashev Scale, its basics and flaws, and how it has influenced the views of scientists and science fiction writers about space travel and settlement.

The scale of ranking civilisations was devised by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964, based on the notion that a civilisation’s degree of technological progress is directly related to its energy consumption and use.

As human civilisation grows and exhausts its energy resources, it needs to reach beyond Earth in order to sustain itself. By harvesting the energy output of other planets, stars and even galaxies, humanity will be able to advance and expand enormously.

The tricky part of this process is not just where to go and how to get there – at least in theory – but what to do with our proposed destination.

As the author discusses examples of planetary, stellar and galactic civilisations in popular fiction and films, we are urged to consider “a realistic, environmentalist and post-colonialist model” for space colonisation and settlement.

Indeed, as we explore issues such as space travel for the wealthy elite of the West, the impact of terraforming on a planet’s native species, and whether cryopreservation or embryo colonisation is the best way to transport intergalactic settlers, we cannot help but agree with the author’s assertion that “colonising another world is an ethical proposition”.

The author’s broad knowledge of scientific development and debate both real and imagined throughout the past century is impressive, helping to make these science essays highly accessible and entertaining.

More importantly, the author argues that terraforming and faster-than-light technology (e.g. Star Trek‘s warp-drive and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Infinite Improbability Drive) are merely “narrative devices inserting human characters, themes and drama into radical new settings”

This is a critical point because, as much as science is a systemic endeavour to build and organise knowledge about the universe, it is fiction that helps us imagine what this universe can be. Science informs, while fiction inspires.

The book’s fiction section contains stories, poetry and illustrations “of interplanetary drama and galactic federations” from over a dozen contributors. While these depict different concerns and consequences of space travel, the essence is ultimately our desire for connection, both across and beyond humanity.

Equally worth mentioning is the diligence and discipline displayed in the book’s presentation. This is a carefully researched and referenced work that has struck a fine balance between science facts and fiction.

Interested readers can purchase print copies of Red Dwarfs Make The Best Homes from Verso Books in Healesville. Electronic copies can be acquired from the author’s website.

Disclaimer: This review is based on an electronic copy of the book provided by the author for free in the hope that this reviewer would provide an honest, unbiased critique.

Note: This book review was originally titled “Facts and fiction in harmony” and published under the title “Space move” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, April 11, 2023, P.12.


Leave a Reply, Please

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: