Given the present situation on our planet, more and more eyes are turning to space as a possible escape from Earth’s rising temperatures. In Terra 12: Paradise Found, author Ryan Baxter paints a remarkably clear picture of one possible future, as well as the dire situation Earth finds itself 300 years from now.
Near the turn of the 24th century, humans send a dozen ships, named Terra 1-12, into the vastness of space to find a new home world for the human race. Terra 12 is where most of the action focuses in this book, along with the fascinating members of this crew, including Zach Travis. As the main character of this book, Zach has more of a mind for robots and metal that other people, but on long space journeys, everyone needs a bit of human contact. As an Engineer First Class on board Terra 12, he has a vital job, but once his ship discovers the long-awaited Earth-like planet, Terra, everything begins to change.
What they discover is not some barely developed planet that may be able to support life, but rather a thriving civilization that is shockingly similar to the world they left behind. Like a strange episode of The Twilight Zone, Zach ends up spending nearly a month with these oddly human residents of Terra. Down to their West Coast accents and favorite foods, this civilization seems to directly model humans, from only a few hundred years in the past – when life was arguably simpler and more peaceful.
Knowing that Earth is embroiled in chaos and potential collapse, the brave crewmen of Terra 12 must navigate this strange new world and decide whether it can offer hope to their families back home. However, in the depths of space, nothing is what it seems, even a potential paradise. Between rivalries in the crew, philosophical battles waging on Earth, or freshly roaring hormones in the blood of the main character, Terra 12: Paradise Found does an excellent job of keeping readers on their toes.
For a highly technical novel that requires quite a bit of exposition, the author is careful not to bore readers with excessive detail, and yet a complete picture of this tech-driven future is provided. There isn’t a constant need to suspend disbelief as a reader either, although there are a few scenes that seem unnecessarily “magical,” making this novel a strange bridge between sci-fi and fantasy at times.
The storytelling is the highlight here, and Baxter clearly took the time to flesh out this future in his mind before ever putting pen to page. Terra 12 and its crew, along with the inhabitants of this new world, make for an engaging read by a truly gifted draughtsman and author. More importantly, writing like this forces readers to consider the present day, and the health of the planet in reality.
If this book does anything, it reminds readers that there is no ideal paradise waiting for us out in space; if we wish to live in peace, we need to resolve ourselves and make Earth a better place. Although at first glance the writing may seem simple, Baxter delivers powerful messages in this memorable and surprisingly profound novel.
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