Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Filed under:Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on April 15, 2019 @ 2:09 pm

Aurora is the story of the first interstellar colony ship from Earth. The story is in several parts describing latter parts of the trip, arrival, initial landings, and others that would give away too much.

The story is both good and weak. The general plots are excellent and told well, but the story breaks down for me at several points.

The first part of the story involves a lot of AI and training it. Then this is abandoned is parts of the story where it seems it would be relied on. It is ignored when problems and conflicts arise, then appears again acting on its reasoning that should have happened earlier in the conflicts.

The author has a good story and tells it well when characters are interacting. Then he has a very different style when trying to convey actions of large groups of people, resorting to telling the reader about events rather than showing him or having characters reacting to the events. At these times, I found the writing much weaker and felt much less involved in the story.

At one point in the story, people 3-D print guns which explode when they need them. I couldn’t imagine someone not trying them out before hand and just learning to shoot, learning how the weapons will work. After the guns failure, they resort to using available tools as clubs rather than printing better weapons or armor when a bow or a sword would be very useful.

During these crises, it becomes apparent that the ship has no police forces. On a ship of around 2000 people over several generations, I find it hard to imagine one not being needed. Yet they do have a court system.

The science was inconsistent. I can accept new science for the sake of fiction and suspend disbelief, but when it isn’t consistent, that bothers me. The big case in point is that the starship had magnetic fields to deflect small particles in space to avoid damage. Yet when flying through a planetary atmosphere to decelerate, they aren’t there long enough to generate heat. Clearly he doesn’t understand thermodynamics, great amounts of heat should be generated due to the high speeds.

I was also disappointed in the ending. I know he was trying for symbolism with Freya adapting to open spaces, but it didn’t work for me.

Overall, it started off well. I found the middle of the book interested and enjoyable, but it went downhill from there.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace