A deep-dive into human behavior in an epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, from one of the greatest American novelists today, T. C. Boyle, the acclaimed, bestselling, author of the PEN/ Faulkner Award–winning World’s End and The Harder They Come.
It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the "Terranauts," have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh—and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them.
Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.—"God the Creator"—for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2’s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere’s seal to be broken—and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: "Nothing in, nothing out," becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.
Told through three distinct narrators—Dawn Chapman, the mission’s pretty, young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2’s sexually irrepressible Wildman—The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T.C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself.
In his 16th novel, Boyle (The Harder They Come) weaves a sprawling tale of achievement, yearning, pride, and human weakness. On March 6, 1994, eight "Terranauts" from different scientific backgrounds enter E2, a sealed three-acre world within a world outside Tillman, Ariz., to embark on the grand hundred-year vision of billionaire futurist Jeremiah Reed (known portentously as "God the Creator"), "one of the first to recognize that our species... was well on its way to destroying or at least depleting the global ecosystem and might just need an escape valve." Narrated by Dawn Chapman, the affable, telegenic darling of the crew; Linda Ryu, the book's id and a spurned Terranaut whose close friendship with Dawn sours as the project wears on; and Ramsay Roothoorp, the sexually adventurous man-child whose incessant rationalizing, political plays, and mercurial personality provide much of the story's humor (and twisted psychological insight), the two-year mission exposes the fragility of interpersonal relationships and tests the limits of the human body. In a multilayered work that recalls the tragicomic realism of Saul Bellow and John Updike, Boyle observes his characters with scientific rigor and a good deal of genuine empathy as they struggle to maintain their identities in the most communal of settings.
So this is not like the book "The Martian" where it's concerned with the science that translates to survival. It is written in a way that you are really getting into the psychology of the crew. What I love is how it really touches on how people REALLY think. They are a crew stuck in a closed building for two years. Food, emotion, sexuality, and just being a person are touched on.
However, don't let that deter you from the science part. You do get a great picture of how things work in the biosphere - but more in a conversational way. You do get an understanding of how things work as a closed system.
Overall, this is a very grounded and interesting book. I would read a sequel to this. Just don't expect some super out there story where you throw your hands up because it drops the ball. If anything, this is a super grounded book, with the accounts of people living and working together non-stop.
Gets my vote for worst book I've read this year
Interesting premise that goes downhill fast. Still not sure why I stuck it out to the interminable end. Very little plot, stilted dialogue and unbelievable characters. Worst ending of a book that I can remember. A waste of time and money. Yes, this book is THAT bad!
I just had real hard time getting into the slow start waiting for something to happen. Buyers remorse.