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The Terranauts: A Novel

The Terranauts: A Novel


The Terranauts: A Novel

valutazioni:
3.5/5 (11 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
20 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 25, 2016
ISBN:
9780062571502
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

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.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 25, 2016
ISBN:
9780062571502
Formato:
Audiolibro

Disponibile anche come...

Disponibile anche come libroLibro

Informazioni sull'autore

T.C. Boyle has published fourteen novels and ten collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his novel World’s End, and the Prix Médicis étranger for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, as well as the 2014 Henry David Thoreau award for excellence in nature writing. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and lives in Santa Barbara.


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3.5
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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (3/5)
    While the Terranauts is very readable, Boyle could have done a lot better. The novel is narrated by the heroine, Dawn; the villain, Ramsay; and the bitter, jealous saboteur, Linda. I anticipated some delightful climax: some major, deliciously ironic breakdown in the biodome with lots of the black humor that has been the author's trademark, and that climax never arrived--I was still waiting for it when the words ran out on p. 508. I felt that the novel was full of unexplored and tantalizing possibilities for Boylesque plot development:They could have eaten all the bush babies, so that the only bush babies available were the plush toys in the gift shop.The ants and goats could have consumed every available food source.In addition to scorpions, some virus could have been lurking among the bananas.The stash of peanut M&Ms could have caused inter-tribal war--how big was that stash exactly? Didn't Ramsay drop a hint that he found out about it?The writing is top notch, as always with Boyle's work. However, he has exploited the isolated cult theme better in Drop City, the survival theme better in San Miguel, the best-environmentalist-intentions-gone-bad theme in A Friend of the Earth. Where was the humor? I didn't find the novel funny, and while Boyle has become very talented at voicing the narcissistic villain (see Talk Talk), Ramsay was rather like Satan in Paradise Lost--Dawn was so blah, and her ultimate rebellion so anticlimactic, that Ramsay turned out to be a more absorbing narrator. Linda's sections I could have done without altogether, and found myself skimming through them; Judy could have taken over her entire role and narration easily and been much more entertaining--and if anyone had actually succeeded in sabotaging the mission it would have been a much more interesting book.The Terranaut Paradise is never lost, it simply staggers on into an unknown future, bearing, perhaps the seeds of its own destruction in the form of a germ or an insect or smuggled candy or Dawn's disastrous attempt to mate with Gavin next. There is no indication one way or the other.
  • (2/5)
    I got eight hours into this 20 hour audiobook and gave up. These people were just awful. After training for 2 years, 8 out of 16 people were to be selected to live in an ecosphere to study the ability to colonize another planet. While the original astronauts were selected for having the "right stuff", these terranauts seem to have been selected for having the wrong stuff, unless being shallow, petty and sex-obsessed is deemed to qualify you for a scientific project.The book is told in alternating chapters by two of the selected terranauts, Dawn Chapman and Ramsay Roothoorp and by one of the rejects, the bitter Linda Ryu. They were like the most obnoxious kids in high school, constantly talking about who's prettier and who's sleeping with whom. I understand this book is being turned into a TV series. A combination of Survivor and the Bachelor - how can it fail?The three narrators of the audiobook sounded appropriately petulant and immature.I received a free copy of the e-book from the publisher, however I wound up borrowing and listening to the audiobook.
  • (2/5)
    I like T.C. Boyle. He writes highly readable novels with themes drawn from popular culture, current events, or topical historical figures. In this case, he goes back to 1994 and writes a fictionalized account of life in a biosphere built in the Arizona desert. The three acre biosphere consists of five biomes, an ocean, a rainforest, a savannah, a desert and a marsh. The eight terranauts--four women and four men--are sealed into the dome to live two years in this environment with no outside resources--all food, water, air, and other necessities to be created from within, "Nothing in; nothing out," the group's mantra.Each of the terranauts has a specialized duty. There is a medical doctor and a marine biologist for the ocean. One tends to the domesticated animals (pigs, chickens and goats), and one is a wildlife specialist. Others have various duties, and all must participate in subsistence agricultural duties. The biosphere is named "New Eden," and is to be the prototype for an eventual off-Earth colony. The terranauts are monitored by outside staff, and observed by tourists visiting the site.The novel is narrated in alternating sections by three characters: Dawn, the domesticated animal tender; Linda, who trained with the eight terranauts but was not chosen for the mission and who is therefore highly resentful of those inside; and Ramsay, whose primary duties are PR related, and who is primarily a womanizing, party-man.As in his other novels. Boyle has done his research, and there is a good deal of science relating to the planning and implementing the biosphere, as well the intricacies and hardships of actually living for an extended period in such a closed environment. However, I found much of the novel to be a soap opera, albeit one in an exotic setting. In particular, the female characters came across as bitchy and back-stabbing and the men as sex-starved frat boys. The novel feels like it is more about their messy relationships and jealousies than their scientific endeavors. One Amazon reviewer said this was a novel of "middle-schoolers under glass." I agree.2 stars
  • (4/5)
    This book was just what the doctor ordered -- a nice big book that I could use as an escape from the various insults and injuries of 2016. Boyle's usual characterization is spot-on; the three perspective characters all sound distinct and they all have interesting points of view. There's nothing hugely surprising here, but although I'm not quite ready to disappear into Biodome II for a couple of years, I found Boyle's account of it a high-quality diversion.
  • (3/5)
    While the Terranauts is very readable, Boyle could have done a lot better. The novel is narrated by the heroine, Dawn; the villain, Ramsay; and the bitter, jealous saboteur, Linda. I anticipated some delightful climax: some major, deliciously ironic breakdown in the biodome with lots of the black humor that has been the author's trademark, and that climax never arrived--I was still waiting for it when the words ran out on p. 508. I felt that the novel was full of unexplored and tantalizing possibilities for Boylesque plot development:They could have eaten all the bush babies, so that the only bush babies available were the plush toys in the gift shop.The ants and goats could have consumed every available food source.In addition to scorpions, some virus could have been lurking among the bananas.The stash of peanut M&Ms could have caused inter-tribal war--how big was that stash exactly? Didn't Ramsay drop a hint that he found out about it?The writing is top notch, as always with Boyle's work. However, he has exploited the isolated cult theme better in Drop City, the survival theme better in San Miguel, the best-environmentalist-intentions-gone-bad theme in A Friend of the Earth. Where was the humor? I didn't find the novel funny, and while Boyle has become very talented at voicing the narcissistic villain (see Talk Talk), Ramsay was rather like Satan in Paradise Lost--Dawn was so blah, and her ultimate rebellion so anticlimactic, that Ramsay turned out to be a more absorbing narrator. Linda's sections I could have done without altogether, and found myself skimming through them; Judy could have taken over her entire role and narration easily and been much more entertaining--and if anyone had actually succeeded in sabotaging the mission it would have been a much more interesting book.The Terranaut Paradise is never lost, it simply staggers on into an unknown future, bearing, perhaps the seeds of its own destruction in the form of a germ or an insect or smuggled candy or Dawn's disastrous attempt to mate with Gavin next. There is no indication one way or the other.
  • (4/5)
    Despite that fact that it’s told by three flawed narrators and contains no particularly likeable characters, T.C. Boyle’s The Terranauts is absorbing, compelling, fascinating and totally believable. Drawn from one real (failed) socio-scientific experiment, it imagines a “better” second attempt and vividly portrays the tribulations of a small group of people living in a giant terrarium. The science feels true to life—even the animals’ behavior and headaches from lack of oxygen feel real. The social science of a small group, closely observed and fiercely controlled, feels entirely authentic too (though sad). Relationships form and break under glass. Technological marvels break too. The outside world watches and outside disasters break in. But the true disaster happens entirely inside and carries the potential to change everything.I enjoyed the interplay of different points of view in this novel, and the quietly growing tension between characters. The ending felt predictable, but I liked how larger themes were buried in the details. Like Steven King’s The Dome, the novel invites readers to ponder deeper questions, though in Terranauts the question of how and why they’re trapped is never an issue. I really enjoyed the read.Disclosure: I got it on a whim and I’m glad I did.
  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Being hermetically-sealed within a biodome may sound unbearably confining to some, but the characters in T.C. Boyle’s latest novel The Terranauts scheme and manipulate for the chance to be locked inside. The machinations continue for the lucky eight chosen for a two-year mission in the biodome—a mission that seems to be equal parts scientific inquiry and reality show—as well as for those reluctantly left outside. Inspired by the Biosphere 2 project of the early 1990s, Boyle’s team of Terranauts endure constant hunger, dangerously low oxygen levels, romantic intrigues, and Mission Control’s scolding while tourists and the press watch their every move. Although the Terranauts’ goal is to learn what challenges humanity will face when colonizing other planets, this sardonic novel is primarily a study of human nature and all its foibles. While The Terranauts might not inspire you to volunteer for any of the efforts to colonize Mars, this compelling novel will keep you reading.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Based from a real Arizona biodome experiment from the 1990s, Boyle's account of a fictional Mission Two also takes place in the 90s. I love the premise of the biodome. A group of eight people living in a closed ecological system, like astronauts on another planet or like ants under a microscope (or both). It's an interesting experiment both in reality and fiction. Who would be arrogant enough to undertake such a project like the biodome? Who could possibly know how to choose which species to include within the biomes, as it would require a delicate balance to support the life of all. Which animals stay? Which plants go? How it could even succeed for two years seems impossible. So I was eager to read the genius Mr. Boyle's take on this unique situation.The book focuses on three characters: two within the biosphere and one that really really wanted to be inside that biosphere. The book is written in a very straightforward, 'here are the facts' sort of way. It's a page turner with the pages flipping faster than any other book from Mr. Boyle that I've read. But it's very odd reading a Boyle book that doesn't seem very literary. There are hints that this is almost a record from the Terranauts mouths, after everything has happened, almost as though the Terranauts are sitting next to you, so clearly they wouldn't be writing in a very literary way (except maybe Ramsay, the character who really loves literature and brings up some Thomas Hardy -- I always though Boyle would be a fan of Hardy). Boyle doesn't use the bigger words in this one that are used on almost every page of his other books, but again, would the Terranauts use those words? So reading this is faster for me than the other novels from Boyle I've read, less interesting turns of phrase to linger over. More like spoken word than Literature. Usually I re-read each finely crafted sentence Boyle has written in the past, but this book might be hundreds of pages too long. The book seems very soap-operaish, which I can see is what Mr. Boyle was going for: 500 pages of a sort of biblical soap opera under a microscope. The nicknames might give things away, making things a bit heavy handed. The plot seemed to be so many events, milestones (and parties) under the dome, but as a reader, I was interested in the ecological problems of the biodome: how everything was functioning. This book was not written as that - it's the characters. Even if Mr. Boyle is in charge of a soap-opera on TV, I'm not sure if I'd watch it, even if that would be the soap opera I'd most likely watch. It's tough for any reader to stick with three unlikable perspectives for a 500 page book, even if I fully expect most of Boyle's characters to be unlikable. Linda and Ramsay are wrecks from page one. Without the hook of the biosphere, this is not a book I'd want to read from any writer. This premise could have even worked as one of Boyle's excellent stories: I envision it as short snapshots of biosphere life. But Boyle is a genius and I aim to read all of his books. These Terranauts don't make the future look good in or out of the biosphere, and I suppose that's the point.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (4/5)
    At first I questioned why Boyle went with such unlikable unreliable narrators. At several points in the novel, I wished they would either drown in the fake ocean, or drunkenly crash their car into the outside of the dome. He didn’t, which is why he makes the big bucks. Well done.
  • (2/5)
    T.C. Boyle likes to write about historical events using fictional twists. Specifically he enjoys exploring human nature in closed societies, especially if those societies have charismatic cultish leaders. Certainly, THE TERRANAUTS fits that pattern. In fact one could argue that being too formulaic is one of this novel’s shortcomings. BioSphere 2 was a failed experiment—cum publicity stunt—to see if humans could survive in a closed and self-sustaining environment. This happened in the early 90’s in the Arizona desert and serves as the inspiration for Boyle’s novel.Of necessity, the setting of the novel is claustrophobic. Eight scientists (terranauts) are sealed for two years in an artificial environment located in the desert near Tucson. Following a previous failure where containment had to be breached, these terranauts are determined to succeed. “Nothing in, nothing out.” The three-acre structure contains five environments, animals (both domesticated and wild) and enough vegetation to provide sustenance.The premise is interesting, but the story quickly takes on the nature of bad reality TV because of Boyle’s unfortunate choices of narrators and his failure to give them much backstory. These three individuals are unreliable, vapid and petty. Indeed, they are not the kind of people you’d want to follow for 500 pages. Dawn Chapman is pretty, but vain and self-centered. She is in charge of the farm animals. Linda Ryu is a scheming and untrustworthy faux friend who did not make the team this time, but remains hopeful. She is Asian American and justifies her failure to make the cut as racism. Ramsay Roothorp is a manipulative womanizer and backbiter. All of the other characters in the book are seen through their eyes and thus seem equally flawed. Particularly noteworthy are the leaders of “mission control,” the people on the outside who run the show including the marketing. Jeremiah Reed, who the crew refers to as “God the Creator,” is a billionaire futurist in the Elon Musk mold. Judy Forester, known as Judas, is his conniving lieutenant and lover. These biblical references are just a few of the many that Boyle sprinkles about in the novel. The terranauts face all of the challenges one might expect in this situation: food shortages, oppressive temperatures and dangerously low oxygen levels. However, as one should expect from a Boyle novel, the real drama revolves around the interpersonal relations (including sexual) between the crewmembers as well as the “mission control” folks. Boyle displays considerable empathy for his narrators, often seeing humor in their machinations. Yet uncharacteristically, he is not able to bring them to life as real people who anyone might actually care about. Instead they inhabit the novel as shallow, scheming and self-involved players. Boyle clearly sees these people as flawed, but seems ambivalent, accepting that they may be evincing common human traits. At one point in the novel, the terranauts stage Sartre’s play, “Huis Clos.” This is the story of condemned people who conclude that “hell is other people.” This reference is as close as Boyle comes to condemning their bad behavior.Boyle makes a few half-hearted attempts to write satire or religious allegory but these generally fall short. Likewise, he plays with some larger themes like environmental decay, shallowness of marketing in the media and even racism but these efforts never rise to prominence. Instead the reader is condemned to watch flawed people scheme for advantages that just seem trivial. Of course, the real BioSphere started out with the best of intentions but ended in a fizzle, so why would one expect the fictional one to be any different?
  • (3/5)
    Set in the 1990s just outside of Tucson, Arizona, E2 awaits! It’s a big glass dome that houses a complete ecology and acts as a model for possible future biodomes on other planets. That’s if we can just get it consistently right here first. Linda Ryu and Dawn Chapman are best friends, at least until one of them is picked over the other to actually go live in E2. Ramsay Roothorp has a libido that may be his undoing.I went into this book with pretty high hopes. I read reviews and I also had my own fascination since teen years with biodomes. Unfortunately, this book fell short. It wasn’t bad but it was more about the messed up relationships these folks have than about any science that goes into the biodomes or the survival skills of the terranauts. I really wanted it to be more balanced but instead it was just one character or the other grumbling, scheming, or being bitchy. There was little else going on yet the author had this perfect set up to tell a great story.OK, so while I didn’t love it, I obviously liked it well enough to finish it. The story started off strong with the 16 candidates all training together in the various skills – from swimming to farming to animal slaughter. They not only have to be good at any job that needs to be done inside a biodome, they have to be able to get along with their team mates in the most difficult of circumstances. Think of all those team building work retreats times 10. While everyone know this is a competition to be one of the history making 8 that actually gets to go into the biodome, they still have to act like they get along with everyone and really want all their team mates to be successful.Great set up. But once we get the 8 packing up to go into E2, nearly all the science goes out the door and enter the bitchy, scheming side to all the characters. At first, I was OK with this because I thought it was going to be a phase for some of the characters and that things would come back around to more interesting stuff. Alas, no. The story just stays in that phase for the rest of the book. Because of that, I felt that most of the characters were pretty superficial. We saw how their characters could develop but then the author didn’t get them past this jealousy phase.Anyway, there is one big twist towards the end of the book and that gives us a few little twists off of it. Plus I like all the references to tacos. Food was often on the main characters’s minds since those in E2 had a limited menu and limited calorie intake. Definitely makes me think I can do a better job of creatively cooking up the contents of my kitchen cupboards.The Narration: The narration was really good. Each of the ladies, Joy Osmanski and Lynde Houck, did a great job. I don’t which lady took which main character (Dawn Chapman and Linda Ryu) but they were each distinct and each did a great job getting the catty behavior across. Charlie Thurston was a really good sex-obsessed Ramsay Roothorp. I could clearly feel the character’s frustrations with how things turned out for him.
  • (4/5)
    If you’re a fan of what Boyle does, you’ll like this book. Yes, it’s a bit soap-opera-ish, but that’s what humans get up to when you put them into a small sphere. And Boyle does the small sphere so well that I can forgive even the louts for their behavior. Like he does in many of his books, the foundation is an actual event, which I remember vaguely. A bunch of people go into a biodome which is supposed to be a self-sustaining environment and live there for a specific period of time. In Boyle’s dome there is a nothing in nothing out policy, which of course gets fouled up on the first mission. Therefore the pressure on the second mission is greater; they can’t break the seal, not for anything. There’s tension between the folks in the dome and the ones outside, too, the ladies in waiting for mission 3. As things unfold, there’s some writing on the wall there, but it served the story as a whole so I didn’t mind.For the most part it goes the way you think it might go if you’re a student of humanity. Petty squabbles turn into big divides and people separate into factions. There are alliances and enmity and hidden agendas. Not much in the way of major drama or action, but I found it plenty interesting. You know that each narrator is fallible, as are we all, and when things don’t quite check up from one story to another, it pulls you along and makes you wonder what the real story is. Oh and as I’ve said before, Boyle can write the walls down.
  • (4/5)
    Being hermetically-sealed within a biodome may sound unbearably confining to some, but the characters in T.C. Boyle’s latest novel The Terranauts scheme and manipulate for the chance to be locked inside. The machinations continue for the lucky eight chosen for a two-year mission in the biodome—a mission that seems to be equal parts scientific inquiry and reality show—as well as for those reluctantly left outside. Inspired by the Biosphere 2 project of the early 1990s, Boyle’s team of Terranauts endure constant hunger, dangerously low oxygen levels, romantic intrigues, and Mission Control’s scolding while tourists and the press watch their every move. Although the Terranauts’ goal is to learn what challenges humanity will face when colonizing other planets, this sardonic novel is primarily a study of human nature and all its foibles. While The Terranauts might not inspire you to volunteer for any of the efforts to colonize Mars, this compelling novel will keep you reading.