Do You Dream of Terra-Two? Temi Oh review by Tom Land
Written by Tom Land
Looking Backwards, Forwards and Upwards!
Of all the events I knew were happening during Off The Shelf 2019, a talk on Temi Oh’s
science fiction debut, Do You Dream of Terra Two? was the one that interested me the
most. For lack of a more exciting reason, let me just say that science fiction has long been a
favourite genre of mine. Something about the ambitious, questioning nature of a lot of
these works, perhaps, draws me to them.
And through this talk, Temi enthused energetically about the inspirations and ideas
surrounding her novel. The process of asking big questions, of dreaming up scenarios to
countless what ifs was an idea that drove her as she wrote.
What if a new, habitable world had been discovered?
What if you had the chance as a young adult to join the crew on their voyage to this
fantastical planet? It is this question particularly that underpins Oh’s work.
This is a novel about a group of teenagers offered the tantalising prospect of journeying to a
new world, in which they eventually do, only to find the journey monotonous and rife with
interpersonal tensions. They are a group of characters with their owns beliefs and their own
goals and dreams. But they are tied together by a destination.
I learnt during the talk that much of what sets this novel apart from quite a lot of other
science fiction, is that Terra Two is a deeply human affair. Apart from space, and its
emptiness, the story focuses carefully on character, particularly on the influence of
adolescence. Temi put it rather clearly when she said that ‘growing up means losing things.’
It’s an experience we all go through, but magnified here, as a small group of people
completely leave behind their home and their planet, for an entirely new world and life.
Certainly, such a prospect would invoke great awe in a reader.
And producing this awe is important and exciting to her, Temi told us as she spoke of her
inspirations, such as Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars Trilogy, and Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris.
Using climate change as ‘a constant background note’ and outer space as a backdrop for
character drama, thoughts, and musings, Oh masterfully utilises her setting to prompt deep
thought in her audience. The setting is not some harsh dystopian future, but rather the UK
in 2012, the year Temi Oh began work on her novel. A year of optimism for Britain. Of the
Olympics, when we were proud to be Brits.
Unique and thought-provoking, the ideas and questions that surround Do You Dream of
Terra Two? prove that adventure and hope can propel science fiction plots just as far as
dystopia and complicated machines.
Yet as much as one might love to look upward to the stars and beyond, Temi assured us that
astronauts still love looking back. After all-
‘The most beautiful thing is home’