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by Kim Stanley Robinson

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1,71810610,080 (3.74)54
"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. "--
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» See also 54 mentions

English (102)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
I read Aurora because it was mentioned by Cory Doctorow on one of his blog posts, and why not? I haven't read sci-fi in a long time (or even fiction for that matter), but decided to give this a go. I've previously enjoyed the Mars Trilogy so I was in for the ride.

Aurora is a novel with a fascinating premise. What happens to the descendants of interstellar voyagers who decide to leave Earth and travel to an extra-solar Earth-like planet? Living on a generational space ship that was stocked over 100 years ago for a voyage that was more hopeful than certain, what happens when things go wrong? What happens when parts of the ship shut down? What happens if the planet your ancestors and their ancestors spent their literal lives traveling to turns out to be uninhabitable?

I think it's an interesting corollary with all of the TechBro CEOs these days just assuming that we can just say to heck with global warming and go live on Mars (absconding them of any accountability with respect to global climate change), when actually, Earth is our home. Earth is the only place we can live. Even though we can travel to Mars or the moon, those are not places where civilization can take root and expand. We literally need our planet to exist. I think a few of the characters in this book make that point, that humanity and Earth are interrelated. You can't really have one without the other. (There are some metaphors that make this point too, like how people in the novel who live on other planets in the solar system live longer if they take regular sabbaticals back to Earth.)

So the premise was fascinating, the world building was interesting, and the main character (Freya)'s mom, Devi, was a really cool engineer/polymath. What I liked about her was how much she didn't know, but how much of a problem solver she still was.

However. Where I stopped really enjoying the book was once we got about halfway through the novel, just after they discover the deadly pathogen on Aurora that started killing the first folks who ferried down and started setting up camp. The plot at this point relies on deus ex machina and extremely serendipitous communications from Earth. While the author does build up some tension by bringing in some interpersonal conflict, and eventually making a major event (the slow down to get back to Earth orbit) difficult, it doesn't build any suspense. I didn't feel like I was dying to turn the page and see what would happen next. I just kind of sighed, thought to myself "okay, how many pages do I have to read of the ship's AI rambling before they finally resolve this conflict," and got through it.

The end of the novel is satisfying in that it doesn't bring too much resolution, but unsatisfying in that it relies on the main character Freya acting like an impulsive child (and also asking to have sex with a 19-year-old kid, Freya is in her 50s!) and while I had gotten to enjoy her character throughout the novel, I didn't care for the seemingly sudden change in demeanor. (OK, I get that she has some serious trauma from having been stuck on a ship for her entire life without having meaningfully consented to being there, and while that conflict was explored in the book, it didn't really come out in childish antics until the end of the book, which made it feel out of place.)

My time reading this book was not wasted, and it will give me something to think about. I still appreciate the overall theme and message. But it'll probably be a while before I dip my toes into reading sci-fi again. ( )
  lemontwist | Feb 24, 2024 |
This was a really interesting experience. As I'm realizing is Kim Stanley Robinson's style, Aurora has two main thrusts: the imagining of what it would physically look like to put a settler colony on a starship and the inevitable politics and fracturing that the group goes through. I get a certain amount of joy just from reading about how the biomes work, the problem of deceleration, the challenges faced on reaching a new planet. True, at points it gets a little over the top with the vocab, and you're reminded that you're reading fiction and not a paper written by scientists who know what they're talking about. But it's still amazing to think about the balances needed to arrive on a new world.

The interpersonal conflicts here feel a little more forced than in the Mars Trilogy, where the motivations and reasoning for different factions had more time to develop. Here, it kinda just happens, and we don't actually have the ability to really get to know any of the people. Partly, this is because so much of the novel is dedicated to the narration by the ship's computer, which has it's own mental development and associated doses of feels. As an idea, I'm glad to see it explored, even if we lose some of the actual human character development.

The last thought the book leaves you with is the analogy between the starship and Earth. After all, our planet is really the same, just bigger; hurtling through space with finite resources and a crew that can't agree on how best to proceed. It's an interesting filter to look at Earth through; I realised I had a tendency to yell at the starcrew to just get along, when I don't think anything is remotely that easy on Earth. Ultimately, this was a mishmash of fun ideas and a good read, if not as coherent as the Mars Trilogy or 2312. ( )
  Zedseayou | Jan 30, 2024 |
An interesting story but dull writing. The author spends far too long on repetitive and slightly patronising explanations of detail and fails to bring many characters to life. The ending is an anti-climax. There are some dramatic segments but generally Aurora is turgid, plodding and pompous. ( )
1 vote breathslow | Jan 27, 2024 |
Interesting read. There were a lot of unresolved threads and mysteries, which made the book feel more true to life in some ways, but fairly unsatisfying in others. ( )
1 vote stardustwisdom | Dec 31, 2023 |
This is the first deep science fiction book I've read since The Martian. There was a fantastic Boing Boing article by Robinson about generation ships and that make me run to the library and pick up a copy.

And wow. It was fantastic.

The subtle shifts in narration throughout the story made my jaw drop at a couple different points. It isn't often I'm blindsided by plot twists, but Robinson pulled it off more than once in this story.

The scope of the story is gigantic and it took a lot of attention to stay with the narrative. But, it's well done. You could argue that this drifts into science fantasy with a couple plot devices, but they don't rise above the human element being played out on the journey.

Definitely pick it up and read it. ( )
  ohheybrian | Dec 29, 2023 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Stanley Robinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ahn, AliNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Aurora es una obra magnífica. Sin duda la mejor novela de Robinson desde su impresionante Trilogía de Marte y quizá la mejor de su carrera.
Adam Roberts, The Guardian
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Freya and her father go sailing.
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"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. "--

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