Saturday, February 4, 2017

drama in the desert

Four men and four women spend two years in an enclosed environment. They're isolated from the earth, but they can have visitors at a visitor window.  And since it's all a bit of a media spectacle as well as a science experiment, tourists can come gawk at the inhabitants at all hours.

The crew has to grow all their own food, take care of all medical needs, process their waste - if y'know what I'm sayin' - survive, not go crazy, and not kill each other.  Among other things.

I recently read T. C. Boyle's "The Terranauts".  It's a novel based on the real-life Biosphere 2 experiment from back in the early 90's.  Remember?

The book is described as "an intimate and epic story of science, society, sex, and survival..."  and I think that about sums it up.

It's rare for me to like a novel of which I don't particularly like any of the characters.  This one turned out to be one of those.  The chapters bounce around from the point of views of three of the main characters:  a female crew member, a male crew member, and a female on the outside who was passed over for this mission, but is destined to be part of the next crew.

As expected, it does get a bit soap opera-y.  In such a situation, there's gonna be drama.  But I didn't think it got too overly dramatic, although maybe it didn't need to be quite so long.  It seemed like some of the drama dragged on, but maybe that was to make us appreciate that they were stuck in there for a whole two years.

So you get

  • one guy who has a tough time keeping it in his pants and
  • the woman who clings then hates him for it
  • another woman who thinks her boyfriend on the outside will wait for her
  • a guy who's probably autistic and misreads a woman's intentions
  • a medical doctor who must track everyone's vitals
  • starvation
  • oxygen depletion
  • cooling system malfunction
  • faction forming
  • the rich people on the outside funding the whole thing and not wanting to look bad

Oh and I might mention

  • four crew members who become two exclusive couples
  • one female crew member who decides against the mandated birth control because it isn't "natural"

...  and so on.

So, yeah, I liked it well enough.  If nothing else, I found the science of the Biosphere 2 quite interesting, even though the real-life experiment exposed its shortcomings.  The facility still stands just outside of Tucson, AZ and is owned by the University of Arizona, which uses it for ongoing research.

Maybe I'll go check it out.  I've got these airline miles...


Linking up again with Mama Kat for the prompt:
3. Book review!


ShadowRun300 said...

I think you found the perfect spot! I've always wanted to go to Arizona, yet I always find myself heading East. I sure hope you can make it work. :)

Riot Kitty said...

Omg, I seriously am laughing out loud at your summary and reading it to present company!

LL Cool Joe said...

It sounds like my idea of torture being stuck with people, any people, for 2 years. But I bet the book was interesting.

Anita said...

I think there's a job out there in book reviewing for you! So get back to cramming in those books. How does 3 books per week sound? My goal is one per week, if it's less than 300 pages. Don't know if that will ever happen.
I'm going through a non-fiction phase. Your review is pulling me back to fiction. This sounds like a good one... I remember the biosphere.

Abby said...

It's definitely on my list!

Abby said...

It's all in there! Think about it, two looooooong years...

Abby said...

I picked it up because I figured the social dynamics would be "tricky". Wouldn't be something I'd want to do either!

Abby said...

Heck, I'm happy if I can finish a book within the 3-week library window!
It's good to have goals, though. Or maybe I'll just read your summaries :)

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a pretty interesting book. I would go crazy being closed in like that.

Abby said...

It was interesting. I'm perfectly happy to let others be social experiment guinea pigs!

Marcy said...

I toured that place a long time ago--really interesting to visit. I think I'd like the book.

Abby said...

What cool place have you NOT been to?!

Morgan Cartwright said...

I'm going to check out this book. I've been looking for a good read. :)

Abby said...

It's over 500 pages, which is typically tough for me to finish. But if I did it, so can you!