The fab folks at io9 have put together a great assessment of non-fiction books that theorize the different ways we could actually colonize Mars.
Here’s an excerpt:
Could we be colonizing Mars in your lifetime? Three different non-fiction books offered different scenarios — including bombarding Mars with “greenhouse gases” and using it as a kind of quasi-penal colony. John Hickman, author of Reopening the Space Frontier, explains.
Popular science writers have been colonizing space via descriptions of the near future akin to science fiction at least since the 1920s. Retrospective story telling is attractive not only because of the overlap in the audiences for popular science and hard science fiction but also it lends a measure of pleasing inevitability to the promise of space colonization. For writers intent on sneaking past the messy problems of financing and populating their future space colony, there is nothing quite so effective as the sense of inevitability for giving readers permission to engage in wishful thinking. Crucial to the perpetration of this literary deception is analogy to some incorrectly conceived historical episode of frontier opening on Earth. Consider the following three examples.