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Liu, H. Terraforming in Popular Culture. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 09 December 2023).
Liu H. Terraforming in Popular Culture. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 09, 2023.
Liu, Handwiki. "Terraforming in Popular Culture" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 09, 2023).
Liu, H.(2022, November 15). Terraforming in Popular Culture. In Encyclopedia.
Liu, Handwiki. "Terraforming in Popular Culture." Encyclopedia. Web. 15 November, 2022.
Terraforming in Popular Culture

Terraforming is well represented in contemporary literature, usually in the form of science fiction, as well as in popular culture. While many stories involving interstellar travel feature planets already suited to habitation by humans and supporting their own indigenous life, some authors prefer to address the unlikeliness of such a concept by instead detailing the means by which humans have converted inhospitable worlds to ones capable of supporting life through artificial means.

terraforming culture literature

1. History of Use

Author Jack Williamson is credited with inventing and popularizing the term "terraform". In July 1942, under the pseudonym Will Stewart, Williamson published a science fiction novella entitled "Collision Orbit" in Astounding Science-Fiction magazine. The series was later published as two novels, Seetee Shock (1949) and Seetee Ship (1951).[1] American geographer Richard Cathcart successfully lobbied for formal recognition of the verb "to terraform", and it was first included in the fourth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 1993.[2]

The concept of terraforming in popular culture predates Williamson's work; for example, the idea of turning the Moon into a habitable environment with atmosphere was already present in La Journée d'un Parisien au XXIe siècle ("A Day of a Parisian in the 21st Century", 1910) by Octave Béliard [fr].[3] In fact, perhaps predating the concept of terraforming, is that of xenoforming – a process in which aliens change the Earth to suit their own needs, already suggested in the classic The War of the Worlds (1898) of H.G. Wells.[4]

2. Literature

Date Title Author Planet/Moon Notes
1898 The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells Earth When the Martians invade the Earth, they bring with them some red weed. The weed starts to kill off Earth indigenous plant life and multiply rapidly.
1910 «La Journée d'un Parisien au XXIe siècle» ("A Day of a Parisian in the 21st Century")[5] Octave Béliard Moon The Moon is gradually given an atmosphere, and vegetation is acclimated in order to turn the Earth's satellite into a natural reserve or sanctuary for endangered species, but also to allow human colonization.
1927 The Last Judgment J. B. S. Haldane Venus An essay that proposes how life on Earth might end and speculates on the evolution of humanity, space exploration and colonization, and adaptation to new environments. Venus is proposed as a new home.[6]
1930 Last and First Men Olaf Stapledon Venus Following up where Haldane left off, Stapledon's future history provides the first example in fiction in which Venus is modified, after a long and destructive war with the original inhabitants.[7] Stapledon imagines a native Venus that is covered in oceans.
1950 Farmer in the Sky Robert A. Heinlein Ganymede A family emigrates from Earth to the Jovian moon Ganymede, which is being terraformed. Farmer in the Sky is a historically significant novel in relation to terraforming in popular culture, as it was one of the first to take the subject more seriously than simple fantasy, portraying terraforming with scientific and mathematical considerations.[8]
1951 The Sands of Mars Arthur C. Clarke Mars First instance of Martian terraforming. Clarke's fictional methods for terraforming the planet include generating heat by igniting Phobos into a second sun, and growing plants that break down the Martian sands in order to release oxygen.[9]
1952 The Martian Way Isaac Asimov Mars Terraforming of Mars using ice from Saturn's rings.[10]
1954 The Big Rain Poul Anderson Venus Terraforming Venus. Anderson considers the great time scale inherent in planetary engineering and its effects upon society. Later, the title ("big rain") became associated with scientific terraforming models.[9]
1958 The Snows of Ganymede Poul Anderson Ganymede Terraforming of Ganymede[10]
1960 Chirurgien d'une planète Gérard Klein Mars Terraforming Mars.[11]
1961 Second Ending James White Fomalhaut IV Fomalhaut, the fourth planet was secretly terraformed by robots over millions of years[12]
1969 Isle of the Dead Roger Zelazny Illyria Francis Sandow is the last surviving human born in the 20th century who becomes a "worldscaper" - a terraformer with godlike powers.[10]
1984 Greening of Mars James Lovelock
Michael Allaby
Mars One of the most influential science fiction novels on the actual science of terraforming. The novel explores the formation and evolution of planets, the origin of life, and Earth's biosphere. Spacecraft are illustrated in a realistic manner, and terraforming models in the book foreshadowed future debates regarding the goals of terraforming.[13]
1986-1988 Venus of Dreams
Venus of Shadows
Pamela Sargent Venus Terraforming of Venus.[10]
1992 Mining the Oort Frederik Pohl Mars Terraforming by diverting comets from the Oort cloud to Mars
1992-1999 Mars Trilogy Kim Stanley Robinson Mars Three novels (plus one collection of short stories) provide a lengthy description of terraforming Mars spanning centuries. The novels represent contemporary scientific and philosophical developments in the field, and also pay homage to the already existing fictional literature related to Mars.[9]
2011 Terra Formars


written by Yū Sasuga

illustrated by Kenichi Tachibana

Mars In an attempt to colonize Mars, 21st century scientists were tasked with warming up the planet so that humans could survive on its surface.
2011–present The Expanse written by James S. A. Corey

(joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)

Mars A collection of short stories and novellas published almost yearly. Although The Expanse universe takes place throughout the solar system, there is an ongoing terraforming effort happening only on Mars.
2012 2312 Kim Stanley Robinson Much of the Solar System A novel set one century after the future timeline of the Mars Trilogy, centred on a pair of characters born on Mercury and Titan. Many elements of the novel deal with living in space and the colonisation of moons and asteroids throughout the solar system, but one important subplot centres on the ongoing terraforming of Venus.

2.1. Terraforming of Fictional Planets in Literature

  • H. G. Wells alludes to what today might be called xeno-terraforming - alien life altering Earth for their own benefit - in his 1898 novel The War of the Worlds. When the Martians arrive they bring with them a red weed that spreads and (temporarily) overpowers terrestrial vegetation.
  • Terraforming is one of the basic concepts around which Frank Herbert's Dune novels (1965-1985) are based: the Fremen's obsession with converting the desert-world Arrakis to earthlike conditions supplies the fugitive Paul Atreides with a ready-made army of followers (In later books, the focus shifts to those trying to "arrakisform" earthlike planets to support the giant sandworms and produce their desired 'spice' secretion). The Imperium's capital world Kaitain has all its weather controlled by satellites. Pardot Kynes, the Planetary Ecologist from Arrakis visited the world, and commented that the nature of the control meant it would eventually bring about disaster, which is why Arrakis should be terraformed through more natural processes.
  • Roger MacBride Allen's novel The Depths of Time (2000) features a fictional planet, Solace, on which terraforming is failing and bringing about climatic and ecological collapse.
  • Liz Williams' novel The Ghost Sister (2001) offers a critique of terraforming. The ruling elite of Irie St Syre, the Gaianism priestesses, believe that humanity has a right to adapt the climate and biosphere of planets to its own needs. They send out emissaries to a lost colony, Monde d'Isle, who have adapted humanity to their planet, not the other way around.
  • Laura J. Mixon's novel Burning the Ice (2002) is set on an imagined frozen moon of 47 Ursae Majoris b which is being terraformed by induced global warming.
  • Building Harlequin's Moon (2005), by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, shows the creation of a substantial moon by smashing several smaller moons together, and the very lengthy process of terraforming it over 60,000 years.
  • Chris Moriarty's novel Spin Control (2006) features a fictional planet, Novalis, on which terraforming is progressing in a speed and direction which defy scientific theory.
  • In These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, the protagonist, teenage Lilac LaRoux, lives a life of luxury due to her rich father who has financed the terraforming of several planets (such as Corinth) inside the fictional universe. The story focusses on Lilac and an army commander as they are the only survivors of a spaceship crash on a planet that appears to be in the process of terraforming but has been abandoned.
  • The Star Wars Legends continuity expanded universe contains the Yuuzhan Vong, whom invade the galaxy, Vongforming or worldshaping conquered worlds like Coruscant to fit their needs. Following the Vong's defeat, many Vongformed worlds were still a disaster, even after reterraforming attempts due to sabotage.
  • In Children of Time (2015), Adrian Tchaikovsky describes a human expedition to a distant, terraformed exoplanet.

3. Television and Film

Date Title Country Notes IMDB
1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan USA Project Genesis, a device for rapidly terraforming worlds to make them suitable for settlement and food production is introduced. At the end of the film, a Genesis Device is detonated in the Mutara nebula. This results in the creation of a main sequence star and a habitable planet known as the Genesis Planet. [1]
1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock USA Spock's body has been resurrected by the terraforming device on the Genesis Planet, created at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Due to unstable "proto-matter" used in the terraforming process, the planet's evolution is accelerated, leading to the eventual premature destruction of the Genesis Planet. The nine-disc Star Trek: The Motion Picture Collection contains a director's cut of Star Trek III which has an extra featurette on the "real-science applications of terraforming".[14] [2]
1986 Aliens USA In the 1979 film Alien, a ship's crew sets down on planetoid LV-426, a world so environmentally hostile that the three crew members who exit the ship must wear full life support suits. In the 1986 sequel, Aliens, the planet has been terraformed using atmosphere processing equipment to an Earth-like state. The process is described as taking "decades," but is apparently so routine that the colonies responsible for it have earned the whimsical nickname "Shake 'N' Bake Colonies." The Weyland Yutani corporation sports the phrase "Building Better Worlds" as its slogan, and it is implied that terraforming is a large part of its business. [3]
1987 Space Fantasia 2001 Nights Japan The Second part of that anime is about the terraforming of a desert like planet named "Satan". [4]
1988 Star Trek: The Next Generation: Home Soil USA USS Enterprise is instructed by the Federation to check on the terraforming colony on Velara III. However, the "lifeless" planet already has an inorganic, yet intelligent alien life living below the surface. [5]
1990 Total Recall USA Aliens have built a terraforming device on Mars, which when turned on, fills the atmosphere with oxygen, allowing humans to live on the surface.[10] Total Recall was one of the first films to portray terraforming on Mars, however it was criticized for its scientific inaccuracy.[15] [6]
1992 Red Dwarf: "Terrorform" United Kingdom After a crash-landing on a psi-moon, the crew of Red Dwarf face a dark world reformed after Arnold Rimmer's subconscious. [7]
1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Second Sight" USA Richard Kiley plays a terraformer who has successfully terraformed several planets. [8]
1993 Red Dwarf: "Rimmerworld" United Kingdom Arnold Rimmer, trapped on a desert planet for 600 years, uses a seeding pod's genetic and terraforming equipment to create a world of his own clones. [9]
1995 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Past Tense" USA Venus is mentioned as currently being terraformed. [10]
1996 The Arrival USA Aliens have built multiple terraforming facilities on Earth, disguised as power plants, causing global warming by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They plan to alter the Earth to match their own ecological needs. [11]
1996-1997 Martian Successor Nadesico Japan The series takes place in the year 2196. Earth is at war with a race of alien invaders called the "Jovian Lizards". A company called Nergal designs a space battleship, the ND-001 Nadesico. While the ship is powerful and its crew consists of the top civilian experts in their fields, these individuals tend to have "some slight personality disorders". The primary protagonist, Akito Tenkawa, is a boy with a mysterious past; once a resident of Mars' Utopia colony, he escaped its destruction by the Jovian Lizards and arrived on Earth, with no memory of how he got there but a terrible fear of the invaders. He hates fighting and only wants to be a chef. However, he is constantly called on to act as a pilot of one of the Nadesico's Aestivalis - humanoid combat robots. [12]
1998-1999 Cowboy Bebop Japan, USA, Canada, Europe, United Kingdom Many episodes take place on numerous terraformed worlds including Venus, Mars, Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Titan. While terraforming is ubiquitous, it is depicted as having varying scales, effects, and degrees of success on a case by case basis, sometimes spectacularly so in the case of Ganymede and Venus. [13]
2000 Red Planet USA, Australia After humanity faces heavy overpopulation and pollution on Earth, uncrewed space probes loaded with algae are sent to Mars with the aim of terraforming and creating a breathable atmosphere. [14]
2000 Titan A.E. USA A human invention called "Project Titan"; Titan spacecraft have the capacity to create a new Earth. [15]
2000 Stargate SG-1: Scorched Earth USA, Canada Episode centers around an attempt by an extinct alien culture to repopulate an already inhabited planet using terraforming techniques. [16]
2002–03 and 2005 Firefly and its film sequel Serenity various The original planet Earth (known in the series as "Earth-That-Was") "got used up," forcing most or all of humanity to find a new star system. In the new system, they terraformed - and apparently are still terraforming - many planets and moons. Each one has been terraformed with varying degrees of success; the inner planets boast a lush climate while the outer edges of the large solar system are populated by desolate, dry moons reminiscent of the Wild West, or can be, as in the case of St. Alban's (featured in the episode The Message), bitterly cold. The movie goes one step further by actually showing what terraforming might look like, as well as stating that the process took decades. The series takes place in the early 26th century. Possibly of note is a mention in an early Firefly episode ("The Train Job") of "each [terraformed moon or planet] ha[ving] its... quirks," including environmentally-triggered diseases such as Bodin's Malady. [17]
2004 Mars Daybreak Japan Although Mars is now an ocean planet, living here isn't easy breezy. Water is treated like a commodity, shipped as ice like cargo across the solar system. With precious commodities comes piracy, which is in full force in this universe. The main cast and crew find themselves embroiled with space piracy and learn to enjoy this dangerously exciting lifestyle. Mars Daybreak features a group of people called "Mars Aborigines," who are the first settlers on Mars sent before it flooded. Earth forgot about these people and sent a second group 200 years afterwards, who were startled to find humans living under such harsh conditions. [18]
2005, 2007–10, and 2015 Aria Japan Mars, now completely covered in water, has been renamed "Aqua." The story follows a young apprentice gondolier in the 24th century city of Neo-Venezia. [19]
2006 Origin: Spirits of the Past Japan Origin: Spirits of the Past is the story of Agito, a young boy living in a dystopian Japan set 300 years in the future. This apocalypse was brought about by extensive genetic engineering on trees, conducted at a research facility on Earth's moon, in order to produce trees capable of growing in harsh, arid conditions. The trees became conscious and spread to Earth in a fiery holocaust, wiping out most of modern civilization and fragmenting the moon. [20]
2007 Battle for Terra USA The human colonists deploy a massive spider-like terraformer, which converts the existing atmosphere, which is poisonous to humans, into a nitrogen-oxygen mix similar to Earth's. The (apparently) only existing device is capable of converting the entire atmosphere of an Earth-like planet. The gas conversion technology also exists on smaller scales, seen inside the Ark (the colony ship). [21]
2008 Doctor Who: The Doctor's Daughter United Kingdom The TARDIS takes The Doctor, Donna and Martha to the planet Messaline where a generations-old war between humans and Hath rages on. The Hath and humans were initially meant to live in a peaceful colony, but were divided over a dispute about "the Source" (a terraforming device), which both sides believe to be theirs. [22]
2008–2013 Fringe USA Future descendants of modern humans travel back through time to 2015 due to rapidly dwindling natural resources and excessive pollution on Earth in their own time. Being from the distant future, their atmosphere requirements are significantly different from those of modern humans; their goal is to use huge farms of devices that can terraform the Earth's atmosphere into one more suitable for their needs, sacrificing modern humanity in the process. [23]
2013 Defiance USA The entire Earth was subjected to terraforming events, many of which were designed to replicate alien environments. Due to the nature in which these terraforming devices were activated, it created a mostly new world: altering the physical landscape of the world, causing severe and odd weather patterns, and hybridizing plants and animals to create vicious and terrifying replacements. [24]
2013 Man of Steel USA Kal-El, of the planet Krypton (dying due to natural resource exhaustion and harvesting of the planet's core), is sent to Earth by his father, Jor-El, to escape the planet's destruction and rogue military leader General Zod. Kal-El lives his life as an outcast, and forced to use his supernatural abilities (obtained through living under a yellow sun (The Sun)) to stop General Zod in his scheme to terraform Earth to become a new Krypton, killing life on Earth so the people of Krypton can have a second chance. [25]
2014-2016 Terra Formars Japan In an attempt to colonize Mars, 21st century scientists are tasked with terraforming the planet. Their goal is to seed the planet with a modified algae to absorb sunlight and purify the atmosphere, and cockroaches, whose corpses spread the algae across the planet as they feed. [26]
2015-2017 Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Japan Iron-Blooded Orphans follows the exploits of a group of juvenile soldiers who establish their own security company after rebelling against the adults who betrayed them on a futuristic, terraformed Mars. The series deals with several real-life problems such as war, slavery, child soldiers black knight, poverty, politics, and neo-colonialism, and corruption. [27]
2015-2021 The Expanse USA Hundreds of years in the future, the Solar System has been colonized by humanity. The three largest powers are the United Nations of Earth and Luna, the Martian Congressional Republic on Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), a loose confederation of the asteroid belt and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The Mars Terraforming Project is an overarching plot point in the series. [28]
2016 Terra Formars Japan In the 21st century, overpopulation has become such a problem that scientists begin preparing for the colonization of Mars. Their first steps in the terraforming of Mars involve seeding the planet with moss in order to absorb the sunlight and create a hospitable atmosphere as well as increase the surface temperature. They also introduce cockroaches in order to spread the moss. [29]
2019 Carole & Tuesday Japan In a not-too-distant future on a partially terraformed Mars, affluent runaway Tuesday Simmons and the orphaned Earth refugee Carole Stanley aspire to be famous musicians. The underdog duo, who play guitar and piano, take on the Martian music industry, notorious for its formulaic, take-no-chances electronic/pop music. [30]
2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters USA One of the characters briefly compares the alien King Ghidorah's attempts to inflict an extinction event with the other kaiju doing its bidding to this, commenting, "It's almost like he's reshaping the planet to his own liking." Although the official novelization draws attention to the fact it's ultimately unconfirmed, and provides a possible alternative explanation for Ghidorah's actions. [31]

4. Video Games

Deformable terrain, as used in e.g. Perimeter and Red Faction, is occasionally called terraforming but is not a form of planetary engineering.

4.1. As a Game Mechanic

Date Title Genre Notes
1990 SimEarth: The Living Planet Life simulation Management of Earth under a Gaia hypothesis model. In full game mode, no win condition and a time frame from planetary formation to the point where the Sun becomes a red giant; in some versions, beyond that. Several more limited scenarios, such as terraforming Mars or Venus, or Daisyworld.
1990-2003 Spaceward Ho! Spacebound 4X Ultra-streamlined galactic conquest. The profitability of each world is measured in gravity (constant) and temperature (improves with investment, "terraforming.")
1992 SimLife: The Genetic Playground Life simulation Control over genetics and evolution, with the ultimate goal of fashioning a self-sustaining ecosystem.
1992 Dune Strategy/adventure Wide-scale experiments in introducing vegetation to the desert world Arrakis amidst a struggle for it. No game mechanics for ecological change; instead, plant life as area denial by destroying the chemical warred over.
1993 Master of Orion Spacebound 4X Terraforming research enables raising each owned world's population limit, and output, by a fixed number. The increase can far outstrip the original capacity, making all worlds desirable. Planets are represented by a single environment type ("Swamp," "Jungle," "Inferno," "Terran," etc.). Life-bearing planet types can be enhanced with the "fertile" modifier, then "gaia." Lifeless planet types can be converted into the minimally life-bearing type, then enhanced.
1994 Outpost Construction and management simulation Terraforming facilities as an optional late-stage feature in constructing a colony on an alien planet.
1996 Master of Orion II Spacebound 4X Single-environment planets are terraformed by shifting their type in steps toward Earth-like (e.g. Desert becomes Arid). Using late-game technology, beyond Earth-like, to Gaia. Reconstitution of gas giants and asteroid belts into planets, which can also be terraformed. A highly developed empire may become a lush garden as a side effect. Emulating planetary magnetic fields with defensive force fields, allowing terraforming of irradiated planets.
1999 Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 4X Clearing native fungus and building infrastructure as part of colonizing an alien planet. Native life can be treated as allies or as enemies. Regional landscaping: planting forests, constructing canals or isthmuses or adjusting mountains. Changing sea levels. Making the atmosphere breathable was considered,[16] but not implemented.
2000 SimMars Strategy A cancelled game of Mars exploration, colonization and terraforming. A trailer was bundled with SimCity 3000.
2002 Haegemonia Real-time strategy Single-environment planets terraformed by shifting their type in steps toward the owning race's preference, to promote growth and productivity. More advanced research allows more steps per planet. Hostile terraforming: an espionage option moves a planet a step in the wrong direction.
2002 OGame Real-time text-based MMO Terraformer can be built and upgraded to increase usable surface on planets. Requires increasing amounts of resources. Ingame description tells that the terraformation process is done by using nanomachines.
2003 Master of Orion III Spacebound 4X Redesigned terraforming with more details than in the previous installments. Tracking planetary fertility by region rather than identifying each planet by one dominant biome.
2007 UFO Real-time tactics Resource management and squad-level combat on Mars. The construction of terraforming stations makes harsher areas of the planet traversable. En masse they create green plains and oceans in the cheerfully unscientific span of a year.
2008 Spore Multiple Terraforming (or unterraforming) planets[17] in a matter of seconds in the spacebound sandbox phase. A handful of tools to affect heat and humidity, then introduce life. Planetary landscaping.
2012 Endless Space Spacebound 4X Single-environment planets. In the late game any planet can be changed to any other planet, gas giants included. Earth-like worlds as generalists, inhospitable worlds as specialists (e.g. cracking the planetary crust advantageous for minerals, not farming).
2012 Terraform Turn-based puzzle Terraforming planets made of hexagonal tiles by using tools and different weather conditions to reach planet-specific goals.[18]
2016 Stellaris Spacebound 4X After unlocking the relevant technologies, habitable planets, and certain uninhabitable planets can be terraformed into different biome types (i.e. savannah to tropical, barren to arctic, etc.).
2016 TerraGenesis Idle simulation Terraforming the Moon and the inner planets (plus purchased locations). Terraforming modeled by gradually moving sliders (temperature, pressure, atmospheric oxygen, sea level, biomass) into desired positions. Optional extended ruleset replaces the biomass slider with individual species.
2018 Surviving Mars Simulation DLC
2018 Terraforming Mars Simulation The video game adaptation of the Terraforming Mars board game originally released in 2016. Players take on the role of a company racing against others to terraform Mars.[19]

4.2. As a Plot Element

Date Title Genre Notes
1989 Millennium 2.2 Strategy Colonization of the Solar System with the ultimate goal of returning Earth to habitability.
1992 Star Control II Multiple The fungoid Mycon terraform geologically active worlds to their liking, shattering the crust, giving direct access to the mantle.
1995 MechWarrior 2 Vehicle simulation game One of the in-game factions, Clan Jade Falcon, is terraforming a moon in order to harvest its natural resources and support its war effort. The player is charged with destroying the core of the terraforming device, causing it to go critical.
1995 Millennia Simulation? The invention of the terraformer usually kills its species; it must be copied, prevented and reintroduced later to a more mature society. Success marks the end of guarding sentient species against an invader and begins the more tedious task of balancing them against each other.
1995-2008 The Command & Conquer Tiberian series Real-time strategy Earth ravaged by the alien substance Tiberium, a self-replicating mineral extractor crystal that works on a planetary scale.
1997 Outpost 2: Divided Destiny Real-time strategy A failed attempt at terraforming an alien planet precipitates the game's events as inhabitants flee "the Blight" and lava flows.
1999-2008 The X series Space flight simulator game Earth has built a race of terraformer ships which have started to build colonies on uninhabited planets throughout the X Universe. These robotic machines then turn on their owners due to a programming error and wage a war against them, destroying the Terran colonies and attacking Earth itself. They now exist as the Xenon.
2000 Armored Core 2 Third-person shooter Mars is undergoing the last stages terraformation during the events of the game. It has a breathable atmosphere, surface temperatures comparable to Earth's and a sizable ocean.
2001 Hostile Waters Strategy/Third-person shooter The genetically engineered monsters who are the game's final antagonists weaponize terraforming, dropping the ambient temperature, pumping toxins into the air and increasing ground radiation levels mission by mission. In so doing they also bypass their sensitivity to heat, in-built as a safety feature to prevent them from spreading too far.
2002-2008 Escape Velocity Nova Space trading and combat Mars saw the first use of terraforming technology, becoming a ball of toxic algae sludge. Other planets have been terraformed and colonized using the now-corrected processes. An optional sidequest involves hauling terraforming equipment to a barren world that becomes more hospitable.
2004 Half-Life 2 First-person shooter Earth under terraformation by the Combine Empire for new inhabitants. Examples include the draining of the oceans (evidence of a receding shoreline can be seen near the coast) and depletion of natural resources. A "Suppression Field" prevents humans from reproducing.
2006 Resistance First-person shooter The "Chimera" cool the Earth for their purposes, making it snow in London in July.
2007 Crysis First-person shooter An alien ship begins forming an ice sphere around the island it has landed on, affecting weather patterns and ultimately making the Earth more habitable for them.
2008 Fallout 3 RPG/First-person shooter A prototype module capable of terraforming large areas of land and creating life itself from inanimate matter, designed to be used following a nuclear war, is central to the game's storyline. (The G.E.C.K. aka Garden Eden Creation Kit)
2009 Red Faction RPG/FPS Mars is in the process of being terraformed to allow colonists and miners to walk the surface of the planet without any advanced protection. Light vegetation can be seen in certain parts of the game.
2013 Defiance Shooter/MMO The entire Earth was subjected to terraforming events, many of which were designed to replicate alien environments. Due to the nature in which these terraforming devices were activated, it created a mostly new world: altering the physical landscape of the world, causing severe and odd weather patterns, and hybridizing plants and animals to create vicious and terrifying replacements.
2013 Warframe Third-person shooter The Orokin were an advanced race of people capable of terraforming the entirety of the Solar System, most notable Venus, which was transformed into a cold planet through a network of coolant liquid rivers. They also deployed terraforming drones en route to the Tau Ceti system, that finally gained sentience and rebelled against their masters..
2017 Horizon Zero Dawn Action RPG After the end of all life on Earth, an AI is responsible for recreating and restoring all life on Earth, terraforming it from lifelessness.
2019 The Outer Worlds Action RPG After colony ships depart Earth to colonize Halcyon, they terraform planets to better fit human life. It is explained in the setting that terraforming is a relatively new science for humanity and the results are unpredictable, with the hostile moon of Monarch as an in-universe example of terraforming gone wrong with its hostile creatures and a sulfurous atmosphere that causes chronic health problems. Despite this terraforming allowing genetically modified crops to be grown, it is later discovered that food grown on these terraformed worlds is not nutritious enough to sustain all the colonists, leading to a food shortage crisis.



  1. Fogg 1995, p. 16.
  2. Fogg 1995, p. 9.
  3. Bardini, Thierry (2014-01-02). "Decompicultures: decomposition of culture and cultures of decomposition". Green Letters 18 (1): 9–21. doi:10.1080/14688417.2014.890529. ISSN 1468-8417. 
  4. "Themes : Xenoforming : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". 
  5. Béliard 1910
  6. Fogg 1995, p. 13.
  7. Fogg 1995, pp. 13–16.
  8. Fogg 1995, pp. 17–19.
  9. Fogg 1995, p. 19.
  10. Bly 2005, p. 261.
  11. "Chirurgiens d'une planète, Gilles d'ARGYRE". 
  12. Neil Barron, Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction, Bowker, 1981. Pp. 297
  13. Fogg 1995, pp. 19–22.
  14. Goodale 2002.
  15. Muirhead & Reeves-Stevens 2004, p. 228.
  16. "GameSpot's Designer Diary for Alpha Centauri". 
  17. "Terraforming". SporeNormous. 2008. 
  18. "Terraform". HolgEntertain. 2014. 
  19. "Save 50% on Terraforming Mars on Steam". 
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