Linda is desperate to be one of the lucky eight chosen to take part in the world's most ambitious ecological experiment. Gazing longingly at Ecosphere II, which rises like a spaceship from the Arizona desert, Linda knows she can survive under its glass dome. Competition is fierce between the hopefuls, among them smooth-talking PR man Ramsay, and Dawn, a naïve beauty. All are certain that they would never, ever, break closure before two years are up – unlike their discredited predecessors.
Inside this humid microcosm, the terranauts' labours over crops and livestock, their battles with creepy crawlies, their hostilities and sexual dalliances are all observed by the tourists who come to gawp, Mission Control's cameras and the watchful eye of the media. As the crew struggles to control nature, and hunger sets in, the snake in this Eden starts to look unmistakably human.
Inspired by real-life events, The Terranauts is a darkly comic, acutely insightful story of human behaviour, animal instincts, idealism and ambition. Placing utopian visions and individual motives under the microscope, this is T. C. Boyle at his acerbic, pitch-perfect best.