Book launch party: Fred Scharmen presents "Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space"

Saturday November 20, 7:00PM

@ Red Emma's

The radical history of space exploration from the Russian Cosmists to Elon Musk

Many societies have imagined going to live in space. What they want to do once they get up there—whether conquering the unknown, establishing space “colonies,” privatising the moon’s resources—reveals more than expected. In this fascinating radical history of space exploration, Fred Scharmen shows that often science and fiction have combined in the imagined dreams of life in outer space, but these visions have real implications for life back on earth.

For the Russian Cosmists of the 1890s space was a place to pursue human perfection away from the Earth. For others, such as Wernher Von Braun, it was an engineering task that combined, in the Space Race, the Cold War, and during World War II, with destructive geopolitics. Arthur C. Clarke, in his speculative books, offered an alternative vision of wonder that is indifferent to human interaction. Meanwhile NASA planned and managed the space station like an earthbound corporation. Today, the market has arrived into outer space and exploration is the plaything of superrich technology billionaires, who plan to privatise the mineral wealth for themselves. Are other worlds really possible?

Bringing these figures and ideas together reveals a completely different story of our relationship with outer space, as well as the dangers of our current direction of extractive capitalism and colonisation.


Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. He is the co-founder of the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, an art and design consultancy based in Baltimore, Maryland. His first book, Space Settlements, was published in 2019. His writing has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, Atlantic, CityLabSlateLogCLOGVolume, and Domus. His architectural criticism has appeared in the Architect’s Newspaper, and in the local alt-weekly Baltimore City Paper.

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@ Red Emma's

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Tens of millions of people poured onto the streets for Black Lives Matter, bringing with them a wholly new idea of public safety, common security, and the delivery of justice, communicating that vision in the fiery vernacular of riot, rebellion, and protest. A World without Police transcribes these new ideas—written in slogans and chants, over occupied bridges and hastily assembled barricades—into a compelling, must-read manifesto for police

Persuasively argued and lyrically charged, A World without Police offers concrete strategies for confronting and breaking police power, as a first step toward building community alternatives that make the police obsolete. Surveying the post-protest landscape in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Oakland, as well as the people who have experimented with policing alternatives on a mass scale in Latin America, Maher details the institutions we can count on to deliver security without the disorganizing interventions of cops: neighborhood response networks, community-based restorative justice practices, democratically organized self-defense projects, and well-resourced social services.

A World without Police argues that abolition is not a distant dream or an unreachable horizon but an attainable reality. In communities around the world, we are beginning to glimpse a real, lasting justice in which we keep us safe.

Queer history is a living practice. Talk to any group of LGBTQ people today, and they will not agree on what story should be told. Many people desire to celebrate the past by erecting plaques and painting rainbow crosswalks, but queer and trans people in the twenty-first century need more than just symbols—they need access to power, justice for marginalized people, spaces of belonging. Approaching the past through a lens of queer and trans survival and world-building transforms history itself into a tool for imagining and realizing a better future. 

Living Queer History tells the story of an LGBTQ community in Roanoke, Virginia, a small city on the edge of Appalachia. Interweaving  historical analysis, theory, and memoir, Gregory Samantha Rosenthal tells the story of their own journey—coming out and transitioning as a transgender woman—in the midst of working on a community-based history project that documented a multigenerational southern LGBTQ community. Based on over forty interviews with LGBTQ elders, Living Queer History explores how queer people today think about the past and how history lives on in the present.