Awards
Philip K Dick Award Best Book (nominee)
This novel tells a love story, wrapped inside the tale of a high-tech conspiracy, wrapped inside a vision of earth's future. During the 21st century, humans withdraw from the poisoned biosphere into a global network of domed cities known as the Enclosure. Connected by a web of travel tubes, some of those cities rest on land, others float on the oceans, and all are technological marvels, offering virtual weather, providing round-the-clock pleasure through drugs and eros parlors and games, housing and feeding the citizens with ideal efficiency. The only thing missing is nature. All wildness has been shut outside except for the wildness of the body. To hide that reminder of the beast world, people wear masks and wigs and gowns. Sex has been channeled into an elaborate mating ritual, reminiscent of the medieval tradition of courtly love. Health Patrollers guard the Enclosure, with terror if need be, against infection from the planet and against the renegades who have refused to move inside.The only citizens permitted to go outside are the scientists and technicians who monitor the condition of earth and who maintain the fabric of the Enclosure. The story opens in Oregon City, afloat on the Pacific. One day Phoenix Marshall Nan inhibited man who decodes satellite videos for a living and who in all his 30 years has never left the Enclosure opens his apartment door to find Teeg Passio, a woman his own age, but wild and uninhibited. She violates all the sexual codes. Teeg spent her childhood outside, in the company of her mother who oversaw the recycling of the old cities on the mainland. Meanwhile Teeg's father, whom she despised, helped design the Enclosure along with Teeg's mentor, Zuni Franklin, whom she adored.Teeg seduces Phoenix out of his orderly, artificial life. She persuades him to join a conspiracy, along with the nine members of her repair crew, to escape from the Enclosure and set up a colony on the Oregon coast. Like the Pilgrims, they seek freedom and renewal in the wilderness. The conspirators have been meeting in secret for years, communing through a group mysticism. In even deeper secret, the elderly Zuni Franklin has been nudging these rebellious souls together, in hopes that they would one day break out of the system. Taking precautions to avoid surveillance from the Health Patrollers, and under cover of a typhoon, the conspirators make their escape during a repair mission.Their disappearance is noted by Zuni, who winds up her affairs and erases all record of herself from the human system, and steals outside in hopes of finding them. With materials smuggled from the Enclosure, the conspirators build their colony in a cove on the Oregon shore. They worship wildness. But they are also wizards of technology, and they use their knowledge to create an organic, environmentally benign way of life. Despite threats from pollution and mutants and Health Patrollers, from breakdowns and deaths, the colony survives. Moving into the wilds is exhilarating for Teeg but traumatic for Phoenix. She coaxes him through, and gradually he falls in love with the earth. While many species are gone forever, and vast areas are desolate, the earth has proven to be resilient. Forests have reclaimed much of the land; some birds still sing, and there are even signs of bears and solves and deer.When Zuni reaches the colony after an arduous trek, the colonists discover that this architect of the Enclosure had worked to move humankind indoors as a way of protecting the earth. Teeg also learns that her mother, Judith Passio, may still be alive in the ruins of Portland. Teeg and Phoenix travel to the old city, where they find Judith dwelling with cloaked disciples in a pastoral settlement from which all modern technology has been excluded. Judith believes that salvation lies in a return to the past, before science corrupted the world; she commands Teeg to abandon Phoenix, abandon the colony, and join her. Teeg refuses, choosing instead the marriage of wildness and science.Returning to the colony, Teeg and Phoenix learn that the Health patrollers are monitoring their movements. It turns out that theirs is one of a scattering of renegade settlements, all of them tolerated so long as they do not threaten the Enclosure. Those who live outside serve as indicator species, like canaries in coal mines, to reveal the condition of the wilds. In the closing scene, the reunited conspirators watch from a headland as whales, nearly mythic animals, spout and breach offshore.


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Praise for this book

"A keen eye, a sensuous and exact imagination, and a bouyant spirit." - Ursula K Le Guin


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Used availability for Scott Russell Sanders's Terrarium

Hardback Editions

January 1996 : USA Hardback
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Title: Terrarium
Author(s): Scott Russell Sanders
ISBN: 0-253-32956-6 / 978-0-253-32956-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

July 1995 : USA Paperback
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Title: Terrarium
Author(s): Scott Russell Sanders
ISBN: 0-253-21021-6 / 978-0-253-21021-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


September 1985 : USA Paperback
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Title: Terrarium
Author(s): Scott R Sanders
ISBN: 0-8125-5380-2 / 978-0-8125-5380-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Tor Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

January 1996 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Terrarium
Author(s): Scott Russell Sanders
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA