Title: Aurora | Author: Kim Stanley Robinson | Publisher: Orbit | Publication Date: 2016-7-7 | Pages: 466 | ISBN13: 9780316098106 | Genre: Science Fiction (hard) | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Date Read: 2015-12 -14 | Source: Library
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 new home.
This was an intense read. Not in terms of feelings, but it needed intense concentration to read it. You were either completely immersed, or you were skimming because the technical terms short-circuited your brain. For the most part, I was completely immersed, but I’ll confess, there were a few pages that got skimmed simply because I got lost trying to keep track of all the information that was being dumped on me.
There was a ton of stuff that happened, but given the narrator, it actually felt like it moved slowly. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you looked at it. You really have to adjust your timescale for Aurora. Things don’t happen in minutes. They happen in years, decades, generations, et cetera.
I’ve read reviews that stated that the narrator (and I’m trying my best to not give away the narrator) made the story be less story-like, and more hard-science info dumping. Yes/No. I’ve already admitted there were massive info-dumps, but the thing is.. the story was still fascinating. Its true that there wasn’t a huge emphasis on direct personal relationships. You couldn’t really connect with any of the characters in general, and while that would normally be a problem for me when reading… it was not a problem with this book. Because you aren’t meant to connect to any specific character, but to humanity as a whole.
Pretty much the only things I was dissatisfied with were: the info-dumps were sometimes a little too long, the middle bogged down a bit, and …of course… the ending. I was only mildly drawn in by the last section.
Be careful picking up this book. Its immensely satisfying, but… if you thought The Martian had too much science, you will hate Aurora.
Overall, I can’t rave excitedly about this book, or even say I’d recommend it to anyone who is not a huge fan of hard science fiction, but … it is a great read. A solid, satisfying one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, even as I couldn’t wait to actually be finished with it. I guess Aurora definitely left me with some mixed feelings, but I know at a minimum that I liked it, and that I’m going to try out some more works of Kim Stanley Robinson in the future.
Don’t mind spoilers? You’ll find another portion of the review AFTER the Coolthulhu rating and Technical Details portion. By the way, Aurora made #5 on my Top Ten “Sci-Fi and Scary Reads” of 2015.
I loved watching Ship’s evolution. I would often pause in the middle of something just to read a particularly observant passage from Ship to my partner. He doesn’t quite have the appreciation for science fiction that I do, but some of the passages were too hard to pass up.
There was one bit right after Ship lost Devi that made me laugh because of it’s remark about human literature, and another quote later on that really illustrated how far Ship had come.
“We knew and enjoyed those people. Had to hope they were not engaged in a dream at the time, a dream suddenly turned black: sledgehammer from the sky, an immense roaring headache, the black noise of the end come too soon. So sorry; so sorry.” – Kim Stanley Robinson, Aurora
Ship was definitely a unique character, and one of my favorites in science fiction.
This line below had me cracking up, because it was succinctly put.
Say what you will about the doomed little settlement on Iris, no one there was going to be so short of things to do that they would be spending time complaining to the world about this or that.”
Ship’s demise was written in a way that was pretty anti-climatic. He avoids a cliche there, but at the same time, its one of those cases where… I dunno. I wanted to see a huge deal made out of it? I was definitely more interested in Ship than I was the humans on board.
Have you read Aurora? What did you think of it?