Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora by Kim Stanley RobinsonSummary: A multi-generational starship is attempting to build a human colony on another world.

One of the reasons that science fiction has been historically popular is that it in general a hopeful genre. Science fiction dreams of new worlds being discovered, the expansion of humanity across the galaxy, technological progress. Or at least that has been a strong part of the world of science fiction.

More recently science fiction has been more concerned with dystopian worlds. There is often still a thread of hopefulness, at least some people will survive the destruction of most of humanity. Space exploration is no longer a significant theme of science fiction. There are occasional books about exploring or creating world. But even the few that are out there are likely to be like John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series that views humanity as a bit players in galactic politics.

Aurora is the story of an enormous starship. It can travel 10% of light speed, but that means it will take approximately 150 years to reach the planet Aurora (around Tau Ceti). The ship is an ark. It contains about 2000 people and as many different climate sections and animals and plants as can be squeezed onto the ship.

The books opens as they are in the last generation before the come into their new home. The ship is continually in need of maintenance and interventions. The interventions almost always have unintended consequence. But they are making it.

And that is about as happy as the book gets. The writing is well done, but this is ‘anti-science fiction’ (as one very spoiler filled review on Amazon put it.) The main theme of the book is why space colonies will never work. And tragedy and bad luck are continually present.

It is really impossible to discuss the book much more than that without significant spoilers. Another review on Amazon (also filled with spoilers) said, “Beautifully written and characterized. The sci-fi ideas are fascinating. The evolving language of the AI is very well done. But I was disappointed by three things that in the end overwhelmed the positive. I am glad I read it though.” (And I agree with all three points that the other reviewer makes.

In the end I agree. I am glad I read it. The central idea is interesting, but depressing. And there are some problems with some of the plotting, especially at the end. I am glad I read it. And if you are willing to read a long book that is ultimately about futility of space exploration, you might be glad to read it as well.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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