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Aurora Hardcover – July 7, 2015

3.5 out of 5 stars 482 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A rousing tribute to the human spirit."―San Francisco Chronicle on Aurora


"The thrilling creation of plausible future technology and the grandness of imagination...magnificent."―Sunday Times on Aurora

"[Robinson is] a rare contemporary writer to earn a reputation on par with earlier masters such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke."―Chicago Tribune on Aurora

"If Interstellar left you wanting more, then this novel might just fill that longing."―io9 on Aurora

"Aurora may well be Robinson's best novel...breaks us out of our well-ingrained, supremely well-rehearsed habits of apocalypse - and lets us see the option of a different future than permanent, hopeless standoff." Los Angeles Review of Books on Aurora

"Humanity's first trip to another star is incredibly ambitious, impeccably planned and executed on a grand scale in Aurora."―SPACE.com on Aurora

"The Apollo 13 of interstellar travel."―SciFi

"[A] near-perfect marriage of the technical and the psychological."―NPR Books on Aurora

"[A] heart-warming, provocative tale."―Scientific American on Aurora

"This ambitious hard SF epic shows Robinson at the top of his game... [A] poignant story, which admirably stretches the limits of human imagination."―Publishers Weekly on Aurora

"This is hard SF the way it's mean to be written: technical, scientific, with big ideas and a fully realized society. Robinson is an acknowledged sf master-his Mars trilogy and his stand-alone novel 2312 (2012) were multiple award winners and nominees-and this latest novel is sure to be a big hit with devoted fans of old-school science fiction."―Booklist on Aurora

"Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game."―Iain M. Banks on 2312

About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. In 2008, he was named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. He lives in Davis, California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1St Edition edition (July 7, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316098108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098106
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (482 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, has major issues with pacing, characterization, and to some extent, plotting. Which would seem to make this review a no-brainer “not recommended.” But if one can overlook issues of plot, character, and pace (and granted, that’s a Grand Canyon-level overlook), there’s a lot here to often admire and sometimes enjoy, and a reader who perseveres will I think not only be happy they did so, but will also find Aurora lingering in their mind for some time. (Note: While I don’t think anything revealed ahead will mar the reading experience, it’s pretty nigh impossible to discuss this book substantively without some plot spoilers. So fair warning.)

Generations ago, a starship left Earth with plans to set up a colony in the Tau Ceti system. Aurora begins in the final stage of the journey, with the ship only a few years out. Early on we’re introduced to a young teen, Freya, daughter of the ship’s chief engineer, Devi. The novel moves quickly through the years as Freya grows older, documenting the problems the ship faces as landfall nears: a host of mechanical/environmental issues (power plant problems, crop failures, etc.), biological obstacles (especially island devolution), and social problems. With landfall, new issues arise as the ship’s population lands a small number of early settlers who begin building the colony and preparing it to receive the rest of the ship. Eventually, the colonists come face to face with the basic question of viability—is this mission even possible? This problem — the social division it causes and its eventual compromise solution — drive the second half of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
“Aurora” is probably the closest Kim Stanley Robinson has come to the feel of his Mars trilogy. As in “Red Mars”, KSR takes his own approach to a classic SF theme, in this case, the colonization of a planet outside our solar system using a multi-generational starship. In many ways, there is no writer on Robinson’s level for such a story – at least, I have never experienced anyone else who has examined both the scientific and social challenges in such a thorough and logical manner. This is as “hard” as hard science fiction can be, and loaded with fascinating explorations of topics ranging from the Fermi Paradox to the nature of prions. There are no “deus ex machina” surprises in the form of warp drives or alien civilizations – everything is believable and logical – coldly logical, in fact.

I enjoyed “Aurora” more than any other book Robinson has written since the Mars series. The style and pacing has been criticized by some, but I found the framing (the story is narrated by the starship’s computer) valid and certainly much more readable than a lot of recent experimental styles.

(Spoilers Below)
In truth, I enjoyed the first half, maybe two-thirds, of “Aurora”, but the last third was so depressing that I believe it actually made me feel moody throughout the days I finished the book. I don’t usually like to spoil in a review, but this book takes such a turn that I feel disclosure of its nature is necessary. First, the book is mistitled, as “Aurora” is the name of the planetary body the colonists attempt to settle. That implies the story focuses on that place, but in fact, less than 10% of the book involves it. A more apt title for this book would be, “The Failed Mission to, and Attempted Return from, Aurora”.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
***SPOILERS*****I read a lot of SF. This book started out great, got better, and then TANKED!!!! From the landing in the planet on out it turned into over described tale of ...nothing!! The peeps that stay on the planet - they just disappear from the narrative. The rest of it is so dense and over written that I skimmed the last 10 percent of the book just to get done with it. Could have been so much better. Seeing this kind of thing a lot now with Sci FI - same issue with Seveneves - the Neil Stephenson book - started great and then just went so sideways....
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Oh, I've told you before. It's always the same. Everything in here has to cycle in a balance. It's like the teeter-totters at the playground. There has to be an equilibrium in the back-and-forth between the plants and the carbon dioxide in the air. You don't have to keep it perfectly level, but when one side hits the ground you have to have some legs to push it back up again."
- from Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora"

At it's core, Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel is a story of microevolution and survival of a relatively small ecosystem over long periods of time. "Aurora" is a creative peek at what civilization-transfer would be on a barren new world several hundred light years away from Earth.

"Two thousand, one hundred twenty-two people are living in a multigenerational starship, headed for Tau Ceti, 11.9 light-years from Earth. The ship is made of two rings...attached by spokes to a central spine. Each cylinder...contains within it a particular specific Terran ecosystem." The journey will last over 160 years. "One could say it is like Noah's Ark. In a manner of speaking."

The novel is not unlike a fable. It's told in broad strokes; lightweight in characterization, middling on plot, heavy on science and the ethical dissertation of a machine intelligence, philosophy of consciousness, closed societies and ecosystem. I didn't love the characters - they're the center point of the story but not actually the focus. Robinson shades the characters in opaque blemishes building very little emotional pull or attachment to the characters themselves.

Robinson hammers home his central theme of balance: ecological, social, emotional. Unfortunately, his balance of plot, characterizations, and narrative does not hold up.
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