pantropy n.

James Blish’s term for: the modification of humans, esp. by genetic engineering, to make them able to survive in an alien environment

Typically viewed in contrast to terraforming, the modification of an alien environment to make it more suitable for human survival.

[< ancient Greek παν-, combining form of πᾶν , neuter of πᾶς ‘all’ + τροπή ‘transformation’ (lit. ‘turning’)]

SF Encyclopedia

  • 1952 J. Blish Surface Tension in Galaxy Magazine Aug. 8/2 page image James Blish bibliography

    There may be just the faintest of residuums—panatropy’s [sic; spelled pantropy in later editions] given us some data to support the old Jungian notion of ancestral memory.

  • 1959 R. Silverberg & B. Silverberg Deadlock in Astounding Science Fiction Jan. 102/1 page image

    ‘We won’t allow [them]…to create hideous travesties on the human form.’…‘Are you more concerned with terraforming the planets or with preventing further research into pantropy?’

  • 1976 B. Ash Who's Who in Science Fiction 15 Brian Ash bibliography

    Pantropy, a form of biological engineering which entails breeding or shaping people to allow them to survive on very alien worlds.

  • 1995 P. Di Filippo On Books in Asimov’s Science Fiction Oct. 168/1 page image Paul Di Filippo

    In focusing on pantropy (a useful term coined by James Blish to designate the retrofitting of humanity to their environment) as opposed to the currently more popular terraforming, Pohl explored an overlooked Mars-colonizing approach that strikes one as still fresh.

  • 2012 N.Y. Review of Books 11 Oct. 6/3

    In Telegraph Avenue, Gwen recalls Julie explaining two science-fiction visions: terraforming and pantropy, two ways to colonize a new planet.

Research requirements

any evidence 1952

Earliest cite

James Blish, 'Seedling Stars'

Research History
The 1952 James Blish cite is almost certainly the first usage. We would like any citations that are not by, or specifically referring to, Blish.

Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from a reprint of Brian Ash's "Who's Who in Science Fiction"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1976 first edition. Irene Grumman submitted a 1987 cite from John J. Pierce's "Great Themes of Science Fiction".

Last modified 2020-12-26 21:41:51
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.