Summary and book reviews of The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle

The Terranauts

by T.C. Boyle

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle X
The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 528 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

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.

Part I
PRE-CLOSURE

Dawn Chapman

We were discouraged from having pets — or, for that matter, husbands or even boyfriends, and the same went for the men, none of whom were married as far as anybody knew. I think Mission Control would have been happier if we didn't have parents or siblings either, but all of us did, with the exception of Ramsay, an only child whose parents had been killed in a head-on collision when he was in the fourth grade. I often wondered if that had been a factor in the selection process — in his favor, I mean — because it was apparent he was lacking in certain key areas and to my mind, at least on paper, he was the weakest link of the crew. But that wasn't for me to say — Mission Control had their own agenda and for all our second-guessing, we could only put our heads down and hope for the best. As you can imagine, we all sweated out the selection process — during the final months it seemed like we did nothing else — and ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The book flap promises "an epic story of science, society, sex, and survival," and though one expects a bit of hyperbole from a publisher's marketing department, I couldn't help but wonder if the person writing that had read even a little of the novel, as The Terranauts is not in any way "epic." In fact, it's the opposite; it's a book of very small, closely observed moments. Regular readers of Boyle's fiction will recognize a few of his pet themes at work here: the consequences of thoughtless consumerism, the obsession with youth and physical beauty, and the precariousness of mental stability. Among his recurrent obsessions, though, it's his urgent environmentalism that finds the most unalloyed expression in The Terranauts, a passion that sometimes tiptoes to the very brink of stridency..continued

Full Review (899 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by James Broderick).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Amid the changing allegiances and alliances, sex eventually has consequences, though the reader wearied by two years of this might not much care.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A sprawling tale of achievement, yearning, pride, and human weakness...a multilayered work that recalls the tragicomic realism of Saul Bellow and John Updike.

Booklist
Starred Review. A virtuoso storyteller and a connoisseur of hubris, Boyle mesmerizes and provokes...Boyle is a literary star, and an all-points publicity campaign and author tour will launch this shrewd and irresistible novel of ambition and folly.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Beneath the high-tech sheen is a rather old-fashioned theme: how idealistic enterprises can crumble owing to the foibles and fragility of human nature. This is one of Boyle's best - and quite possibly one of the best of the year

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Biosphere 2

In Oracle, Arizona, sits one of the more intriguing experiments in "closed-system" science ever devised: Biosphere 2, which forms the backdrop for the novel, The Terranauts. Originally built to demonstrate that humans could construct and live sustainably for long periods in an artificially created world, the huge glass domes that make up the structure no longer host human inhabitants. However, far from becoming a white elephant, Biosphere 2 remains an active laboratory for scientific research and outreach, hosting visitors ranging from elementary schools to post-graduate scientific researchers.

Biosphere 2Construction of Biosphere 2, which began in 1987, took four years. Shortly after it was completed, a group of eight researchers entered the ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by T.C. Boyle

If you liked The Terranauts, try these:

  • Barkskins jacket

    Barkskins

    by Annie Proulx

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More books by this author

    From Annie Proulx - the Pulitzer Prize-­ and National Book Award - winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world's forests.

  • Forty Days Without Shadow jacket

    Forty Days Without Shadow

    by Olivier Truc

    Published 2014

    About this book

    Tomorrow, the sun will rise for the first time in 40 days. Thirty minutes of daylight will herald the end of the polar night. But in the last hours of darkness, a precious artifact is stolen . . .

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Exiles
    The Exiles
    by Christina Baker Kline
    A young governess finds herself pregnant and in prison for theft and attempted murder. An Irish ...
  • Book Jacket: White Too Long
    White Too Long
    by Robert P. Jones
    Religious scholar Robert P. Jones doesn't pull any punches in his latest book, White Too Long: The ...
  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.