Our voyage from Earth began generations ago. Now we approach our destination. A new home. Aurora.
Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, Aurora is the work of a writer at the height of his powers.
©2015 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2015 Hachette Audio
The story here is set a few hundred years into the future, as mankind has begun an expedition to colonise distant worlds. Technology is still limited and therefore generation ships consisting of a few thousand people are dispatched, their journeys expected to take upwards of a hundred years.
I struggled with the story, not that it is difficult to follow and indeed it was well written and well narrated, however I just could not establish what point it was really trying to make. This book falls into the category of the sort of space exploration science fiction that sends the message that Earth is the best we'll find and we shouldn't waste time looking elsewhere.
A lot of the science and ideas involved are very interesting, though in the end I found the story to be quite dull and ultimately a message that we should be glad of what we have got and to take care of the Earth. Not quite what one expects from space exploration sci-fi.
An interesting take on space exploration. The narrative style in the later parts is slightly reminiscent of Stapledon's "First and Last Men" - though far more conventional. Well worth listening to.
A reader of science fiction and other speculative musings for more than 40 years, I'm most fond of the grand themes found in space opera.
I was quite disappointed by this. Aurora came with a huge rep, but completely failed to live up to it. The annoying thing for me is the writing is beautiful, with well-crafted characters, and brilliant narrative... But the story is awful: ship leaves Earth, goes to Tau Ceti, some people get killed, some go back to Earth, some stay, more people get killed, the ship AI develops a personality, stopping the ship is a problem, which is resolved and the remaining 600 get back, they have psychological problems when they get back and the lead character goes swimming in the ocean. End.
The author dwells on and delights in the science of the journey, which is great, but doesn't make a story.
The Guardian called this the "best generation starship novel I have ever read." That doesn't speak well of the genre.
This is not an engaging or compelling book. Despite a richness of ideas and observations, the writing style is genuinely dull and boring and the very simple plot is sounds on and on and on, with little or nothing actually happening. I doubt I'd have finished this if it hadn't been an audio book.
It's not necessarily the sort of thing you listen to more than once but I still enjoyed it.
Wasn't the best narrator but could have been worse.
It's quite a slow one but it gets quite dramatic in the middle so I suppose that bit? And I guess the question of 'where is home?' is generally an emotive one.
It's quite slow-moving and I wasn't necessarily convinced by the speeches the ship makes about narratives etc. - felt a bit like the author was trying to force the work to be more meta/more 'literary' than it needed to be. I appreciated the attempts to create a coherent universe and to describe all the systems in it. I didn't totally love any of the characters, but there was a loving attention to detail in the descriptions of the many problems faced in settling a new planet that made me feel like I was experiencing the journey along with them. Wouldn't place amongst one of my favourite books but it's definitely worth a read if you're interested in the more mundane aspects of long-distance space travel.
A thought provoking story that suggests that perhaps the allure of interstellar colonisation may be doomed to fail.
A Hundred Thousand years of Homo Sapien evolution bind humanity to the solar system and earth.
Lifeless worlds with hostile atmospheres that will take thousands of years to terraform- longer than a container based society can survive.
Or hostile worlds with microscopic proto viruses, extreme climates and shot blasted landscapes.
The inevitable decline in the colonists own artificial environment spells doom .
Radiation, lack of biodiversity and a rapidly evolving bacterial onslaught.
The real message (and there is a clear one by the end of the book) is that humanity needs to look after its own homeworld first and foremost. It also suggests that a radical shift in our lifestyle and cultures is required to accomplish this balance.
I love this author. Normally really though provoking - it felt as if the book had been overdue and the ending was rushed and a significant character just disappears towards the end.
Still worth listening to but overall not half as strong as other works.
This book thoroughly explores the ethical and practical problems associated with intergenerational space travel. Packed with accurate science and a very human storyline, I felt as though I was part of the story and experiencing the adventure. For me, this would never be possible in a ludicrously unrealistic universe of so many other sci fi stories. This is one of the very few to hit the nail on the head. In this respect it holds its own against Carl Sagan's Contact and 2001 a Space Odyssey.
"Best story and narration, I've heard in long while"
I really loved this story about humans, our ambitions and frailties. Excellent and thought-provoking stuff :-)
"NO STARSHIP, NO CRY"
This is a very involving story, and very intelligent writing. The narrator is excellent, and makes the book even more enjoyable.
Supposedly “hard-science” sf: hard for the accurate description of the constraints of space travel, but it also contains "soft-science" elements that add a lot of interest to the story. Perhaps it should be called “speculative fiction” in the sense of half science fiction and half philo-fiction. I had never read any of Kim Stanley Robinson’s books before AURORA, and I think that it a good introduction to his work. I have now begun reading RED MARS and I am already coming across many of the same concepts that AURORA develops in more concentrated form. The range of knowledge mobilised in this novel is encyclopaedic, but I never found the story dull. I would distinguish the pace of the action, which was sometimes slow, from the pace of the invention (action, ideas, and style) which is always engrossing. So I found the novel enjoyable and thought-provoking, and never slow-moving.
The text is multi-layered: a hard science attempt to spell out concretely what voyage to a “nearby” solar system in a generational ship would be like; a more philosophical reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the self, and free will; an exploration of the human propensity for “living in ideas” and making bad choices based on fantasy or ideology, a deployment of biological and ecological science beyond the mere fascination with technological prowess; a vision of human thinking and behavior as determined by errors and biases that cognitive science is only now beginning to understand.
The whole story is a science-inspired deconstruction of the fantasy of traveling to the stars, by taking that fantasy literally. Yet the story is metaphorical too: the starship is a prison, and our own ideas are a prison. The novel seeks to establish that what Robinson calls the “technological sublime” does not take us outside of our (mental and physical) prison, but just transports it elsewhere. The whole book is a plea for the use of science as enrichment of our present life rather than as escapism, into some beyond.
Robinson wants to enlarge our scientific vision: he tries to be encyclopedic, and to break with the hegemony of physics and technology in our thinking and imagination. So he includes not just hard physics, but also biology, sociology, systems thinking, philosophy of mind and of language, and cognitive science. Factoring in these considerations gives a very different approach to the generational starship than was customary in classical, physics-obsessed science fiction. This makes the book a stimulating and powerful read.
However, in AURORA politics suffers, as it is subordinated to Robinson’s reflections on biology and cognitive science. This scientistic explanation of human behaviour generates what some people decry as the “pessimism” or the "conservatism" of the vision embodied in the book. I do not think that this vision is pessimistic or conservative. Technological realism is not pessimism, even if it obliges us to relinquish a fantasy we cherish. Ecological responsibility is not conservatism, even if it obliges us to evaluate actions in terms of sustainability. Ultimately the book does not reduce, but enlarges and enriches.
"Hard Science Fiction"
The performance became very very monotonous. Trying to create the sound of a quantum computer the sound engineer has decided to add some kind of chorus effect to the voice of the narrator and this coupled with her slow monotonous tone became massively distracting and annoying as time went by.
If you like science fiction where the emphasis is on the 'science' Kim Stanley Robinson is the man for you. Every idea he comes up with has a clear scientific justification and plausibility. He must have undertaken huge amounts of research from the gravitational effects of living on a moon orbiting a large planet to the ecological effects of being ecologically isolated on a long space voyage. Science is never used to mystify or bamboozle. However all this scientific rigour comes at a price, his pacing and story telling is glacially slow and sometimes painful.
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