The Terra Debacle by Marcha Fox
It’s May 1978 and a normal night at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah–until a bogey shows up in their air space. It gets even stranger when the UFO requests permission to land. It changes its mind, but by then F-16s escort it to the ground. A human girl in her early teens and a robot exit the craft, a strange botanical lifeform found onboard later that night by a USAF landing party. The vehicle, robot, and the strange plant are impounded and subsequently sent to Area 51.
NASA astrobiologist, Gabriel Greenley, is called in to study this new lifeform that at first appears similar to a botanical species known as oxalis. As a psi-sensitive, Greenley quickly learns the specimen is highly intelligent and potentially dangerous when he attempts to take a leaf sample. He backs off, frustrated, desperate to investigate the scientific details of this new botanical species that combines intelligence with a metabolism based on photosynthesis. Meanwhile, the specimen, a flora peda telepathis named Thyron from the planet Sapphira, is investigating his new environment through all frequencies of the electro-magnetic spectrum as well as his suite of psychic abilities that includes remote viewing.
Greenley eventually gets his leaf sample and makes a ground-breaking discovery that he can never share, due to his security oaths and research agreement at this Top Secret facility. Eventually, however, he’s confronted by an ethical dilemma that forces him to make a treasonous and potentially deadly decision.
A unique combination of hard science fiction, suspense, intrigue, and a touch of humor, this story has been described as a “dark version of ET: The Extraterrestrial.” Strong characterizations, a mysterious setting loaded with intrigue, and unexpected plot twists make this an unforgettable tale whether you’re a science fiction fan, botanist, UFO aficionado, or simply enjoy a good story.
Top customer reviews
The story takes place in the ‘70s when I was a very young girl but I remember enough to suffer several fits of laughter while reading the story with the references to Mork, Star Trek and MASH. Amongst the laughter was plenty of suspense that built throughout. I was sweating bullets the last few chapters as the story climaxed. What an ending! What a story!
Marcha’s books always contain sound, plausible science. As a biology teacher I was in my element with the science presented in this book and the tests run. It’s very clever and I’m sure I will always think differently about plant chloroplasts and bulbs in the future.
A fantastic story that doesn’t miss a beat!
As with all her books, Ms. Fox’s science is sound (she is retired from NASA), but her degree in Physics didn’t teach her how to include humor, for instance Thyron’s horror over human use of paper OR his belief that the expression, ‘holy guacamole’ is a god vs. expression of surprise.
Get ready for Thyron. He is a peda flora telepathis; in other words a sentient, bipedal, telepathic plant. He not only communicates telepathically, he acquires knowledge remotely. While imprisoned at the infamous Area 51, he stumbled onto a treasure trove of information and overdosed himself by assimilating it, which caused him to lapse into a dormant state. This triggered a panic in Gabe Greenly, astrobotanist for NASA. Greenly nursed Thyron back to a healthy state and was rewarded with a handful of seedpods.
Thyron’s vegetable chauvinism makes him highly opinionated. He bristles at the nature of paper, he thinks lumber is a crime against botany, vegetarians are serial murderers, and a harvester is a weapon of mass destruction. He cuts Gabe some slack since he is a fruitarian and can gain sustenance without killing the fruiting plant. This makes for a strange relationship, because Gabe is bound by his security agreement, which forbids abetting an escape, and Thyron’s goal is to get off the earth at all costs, along with an artificially intelligent robot—since disassembled—and a humanoid girl.
Marcha Fox has not only created a phyla, she has invented multiple vocabularies. The psychic terminology is plain enough to understand, but you might want to read The Terra Debacle on an ereader with a built-in dictionary to help decipher the botanical terms. This is a brilliant story, extremely well written and with great character development. It is off-the-wall in a way that is similar to how Tom Robbins grabs the reader and shakes him. The research is profound and convincing. It is loosely aimed at the young adult audience, of which I am not a member; however, I recommend it for anyone who wants to venture into a leafy new world.
The first time I got the point of science fiction was when I went to see the film The Quatermass Experiment about ten years ago. Ignorance of both science and science fiction was forgotten. I was hooked. And the best thing I’ve experienced since then is The Terra Debacle (a book I received as a gift), a brilliantly conceived and finely crafted creation by Marcha Fox. In this tour de force she continually stunned my senses with her combination of scintillating science, communication skills, sheer virtuosity of style and side-splitting humor. The star turn is Thyron. He is a peda flora telepathis: that is, a bipedal telepathic who picks up information remotely (reminds me of my late Aunt Stella, except that Stella, to the best of my knowledge, was not a plant, which Thyron is).
The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51 is a joy, a must-read.
About the Author: Marcha Fox
Marcha Fox is a prolific writer who has addressed a wide variety of subjects, but her favorite is science fiction. It began as a love of astronomy, which eventually led to a bachelor of science degree in physics from Utah State University. This was followed by a 21 year career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where she held a variety of positions including technical writer, engineer, and eventually manager. Her NASA experiences included trips to Cape Canaveral in Florida, visiting other NASA centers in Mississippi, Alabama and Maryland, as well as trips to the European Space Agency in The Netherlands, but the most memorable was the sad task of helping to recover space shuttle debris in East Texas following the tragic Columbia accident in 2003.
Her Star Trails Tetralogy Series incorporates her knowledge of physics and space travel within a family saga set on a primitive planet where survival is an ongoing struggle, which is further complicated by political intrigue. While some of the science is speculative, her goal is to represent it as accurately as possible, allowing her readers to learn accurate principles in a painless, entertaining manner within the context of the story. More information on the individual novels in this series, the science behind them, as well as the status of future stories can be found on the series website at http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.
Never at a loss for something to do, she enjoys gardening, her two Bengal cats, family history, and pursuing her study of the heavens in yet another realm, that of astrology. Her astrology clients span the globe, accessing her through her expansive and informative website at http://www.valkyrieastrology.com. She has authored a variety of books on the subject, taught online for the International Academy of Astrology (IAA), spoken at conferences and individual groups, and published articles in the journal of the International Society of Astrological Research (ISAR).
“At one time, science, religion and astrology were an integrated whole, which has obviously disintegrated over the years,” she explains. “Science and religion have been at odds with one another for centuries, and astrology gradually had a falling out with both. What they fail to tell you in astronomy class is that Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton were all astrologers on a quest to obtain more accurate data for their astrological readings and predictions. The objections of the Christian church are more complicated, but it remains a mystery to me how they can believe that God created the planets, yet not recognize how He uses them to communicate with His children. I started out as a skeptic, but nothing religious leaders or scientists say can ever change the fact that it works.”
She is currently researching material related to how modern physics theories could explain astrology as well as how Christianity gradually evolved to oppose it, in spite of the fact that the Old Testament prophet, Abraham, is considered by Jewish mystics to be the greatest astrologer of all time.
“Nothing would please me more,” she states, “than to make some small contribution toward bringing science, religion, and astrology back together, where they belong.”
She is the mother of six grown children, 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She has lived in New York, California, and Utah before making her home in Texas.