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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora (edition 2016)

by Kim Stanley Robinson (Author)

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8345015,831 (3.77)39
Authors:Kim Stanley Robinson (Author)
Info:Orbit (2016), Edition: 1, 528 pages
Collections:Your library

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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Based on the limited information I had from the book blurb, I had high expectations for this work, especially as I liked Robinson's Mars trilogy. An adventure showing the struggles of humans first attempt to colonize a world beyond our solar system sounded intriguing. What I got was a depressing and rambling story that basically said that humanity will never get beyond our own solar system, and if we try the people we send will all die because the challenge is too hard and the universe is out to kill us.

As we follow the latest generation on The Ship (an ark) sent to Tau Ceti we get to learn about zoodevolution and island biogeography and how the people who sent the ship were idiots for even trying to conquer space. "What were they thinking?" is a refrain uttered by two of the characters many, many times. I enjoy a good yarn spun on hard science facts, but I also like to have optimism and hope as well. Part of the reason I liked the Mars trilogy was that it was a story about a hopeful future - even if there were struggles and bumps along the way. Aurora basically tosses hope aside, and trods over any optimism that the reader may have about human colonization of space. It's hopeless, and any world we try to inhabit will kill us (if it's "suitable" for life) or we'll die trying to terraform any planet that is not suitable for life. When the colonists finally reached Tau Ceti and realize the planet they wanted to colonize would kill them because of a pseudo-prion like "creature", the remaining colonists then devolve into anarchy and civil war (killing more people in the process). After a sort of cold war descends on the ship, and people arguing to return to earth get their chance, the story goes on a rambling narrative from the ships computer that might have worked and had purpose. But since the ship - after taking 12 years to slow down once it returns to our solar system, and spitting out its human crew like a seed pod - is then destroyed as it attempts one last move around the sun to slow down, I wonder why we even bothered to listen. I just spent two (long) chapters listening to this pseudo-AI ramble about everything, and then it's destroyed. No closure - everything we humans do or make is doomed to failure.

Yes, a lot of the science in Aurora is good, and the concept and idea of the generation colony ship is well executed by Robinson. The detailed discussion of orbital mechanics and the speeds involved to reach Tau Ceti, and then attempt to return when nobody knows you are coming back, was well done. And to an extent I liked the characters - even the ramblings of The Ship. But the overly depressing and hopeless tone of the narrative just killed any enjoyment I had for the story. Even if the reality is that humans may not ever truly colonize another world for the very reasons that Robinson cites, I read FICTION to be entertained and provide a hopeful look at the future, not to be depressed by possible (and still hypothetical) realities.

If you want to read a story about the attempted colonization of space, and don't mind a depressing conclusion to the outcome, then pick up Aurora. If you want to read about "real science" fiction, with hope and optimism, go pick up The Martian instead. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Jun 12, 2018 |
Better than the last few Kim Stanley Robinsons I waded through, the best of his since the Mars trilogy. Interestingly, in this book, during a flyby of Mars, we find out about all the environmental constraints that would have made the Mars trilogy impossible. Robinson's epic description of a generation starship basically puts the boot into the hubris behind colonising space, and ends with an ode to the beauty of Earth. A shame there's a 75-page section which is literally about the physics of deceleration using solar orbital dynamics. ( )
  adzebill | Mar 29, 2018 |
“Human beings live in ideas. That they were condemning their descendants to death and extinction did not occur to them, or if it did they repressed the thought, ignored it, and forged on anyway. They did not care as much about their descendants as they did about their ideas, their enthusiasms.”

This paragraph came late into Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel, Aurora, but summarize for me as a reader what theme he was trying to bring forth in the book.

The idea of leaving Earth going into space to find a new home has been a well-worn and traveled trope for many science fiction authors. However, this trope in a skilled hand like Robinson gives it a fresh new coat of paint and a upholstery job as well.

Aurora tells the story a first voyage beyond our galaxy to find a new home. Robinson presents the narrative from a couple of perspectives: Freya, a passionate, fiery alpha female that grows from a teenager to middle age and the artificial intelligence of the ship itself that becomes more human-like during the voyage.

Robinson adds political intrigue and scientific realism to this seemingly quixotic voyage. Also, a major decision has to be made that tests everyone’s beliefs onboard the generation starship. It seems that Robinson wanted to take the fantasy aspects out of the space opera trope to reveal how unlikely such a voyage could be.

Also, the main criticism of a Kim Stanley Robinson novel is the reliance of the “info-dump'” into his narrative. Robinson defends himself here about that criticism. Actually, I found his ‘info-dumps” interesting and profound, while bringing the story’s pace to a crawl. Moreover, like he did in the excellent and groundbreaking Mars Trilogy, Robinson gives a highly detailed and believable scenario of how a voyage could actually happen. My main issue with the novel is the political slant it presented more than anything else.

In closing, I’m glad I read Aurora and would recommend it for serious science fiction readers and hardcore Robinson fans. Also, I believe Aurora will be nominated for all the major science fiction awards this year. 3.75 stars. ( )
  kammbiamh | Mar 25, 2018 |
Reminded me a lot of SevenEves. Such a good book . I loved the AI character development. Ingenious and a little funny at the same time... ( )
  josh513 | Feb 3, 2018 |
This novel was not what I expected, in both good and not so good ways.

I loved the overall premise of the story and way it looks at interstellar space travel in a less romantic way than many other science fiction novels tackling a similar subject. The plot twist halfway through the book turned it into something I really wasn't expecting, but captured my interest even more. The narration device was really intriguing, and I loved seeing the narrator's voice develop through the novel.

However, there were some long passages dense with science that I struggled with. I found the biological issues more interesting than anything else, but even then I found my attention wandering sometimes. I also felt that it would've been more compelling to focus on the humans' experiences of living on the ship more.

Overall, though, I was hooked on Aurora from the start, and appreciated seeing space exploration from a different perspective that I'd never considered before. ( )
  mooingzelda | Nov 12, 2017 |
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Freya and her father go sailing.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316098108, Hardcover)

A major new novel from one of science fiction's most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system.

Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers.

Our voyage from Earth began generations ago.

Now, we approach our destination.

A new home.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:33 -0400)

"Generations after leaving earth, a starship draws near to the planet that may serve as a new home world for those on board. But the journey has brought unexpected changes and their best laid plans may not be enough to survive"--

(summary from another edition)

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