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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    24
  • 4 Stars
    23
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    13
  • 2 Stars
    1
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    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    30
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    19
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    5
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    1
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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    23
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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 :-)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Hard Science Fiction

Would you try another book from Kim Stanley Robinson and/or Ali Ahn?

no

Would you recommend Aurora to your friends? Why or why not?

yes

How could the performance have been better?

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.

Do you think Aurora needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No

Any additional comments?

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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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • ikd
  • 08-28-16

Despite great ideas, terribly, terribly boring

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rhiannon
  • 08-04-16

A very long journey

Would you listen to Aurora again? Why?

It's not necessarily the sort of thing you listen to more than once but I still enjoyed it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Aurora?

No spoilers!

Would you listen to another book narrated by Ali Ahn?

Wasn't the best narrator but could have been worse.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • D. M. York
  • 09-02-15

Troubled science fiction

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Antonio Konitsiotis
  • 04-30-18

Great science, so so novel

A thoroughly thought out and scientifically advanced SciFi novel, I found myself intrigued by the ideas and concepts the author tried to convey in the book, many of which even learned scientists would probably have dismissed/neglected. However, as a novel and a story I found this simply not engaging, with only a couple of characters I found myself caring for.
Still an ambitious tale and very well narrated/produced I think this is worth a look at for the scientific and philosophical discussions.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • matthew
  • 10-11-17

It's a masterpiece....

....In my opinion. A great book including science, sociology and philosophy. Mostly spoken from the ships computer commanded to create a Narrative of the voyage. Brilliantly Narrated by Ali Ahn. Would have liked to have herd a little more from other characters roles.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Colin Dente
  • 04-17-17

An alternative view on colonisation

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Martyn. R. Winters
  • 10-20-16

Well written, but linear and predictable

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-11-16

not as good as his other books.

I've read Mars triology and 2312 and this is my least favourite of them all

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-10-16

Excellent hard science fiction book.

Brilliant look at what an arc ship might be like. Lots of science, well written and thought out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 02-27-16

Icarus Falls, but survives...death of a dream.

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.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Billy T
  • 08-20-16

Genius

Another pen stroke of genius by Kim Stanley Robinson. Evocative imagery, intricate science and beautiful composition.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ms Sharon Cosgrove
  • 08-03-16

Overly indulgent

I enjoy a detailed story but a lot of this felt like I was listening to a text book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ronald McCoy
  • 06-06-16

Visionary epic tale

Combines realistic science with perceptive societal observation embedded in breathtaking innovative narrative. Wow! Read it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dr Richard C Hall
  • 10-13-15

Good

A cool story, entertainingly read. Definitely drags at times, seeming a bit repetitive, but keeps moving along. KSR certainly knows his way around Sci Fi. The message is a bit bleaker than I had hoped for, but an interesting take on the space exploration/colonisation genre.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Eric D. Fehr
  • 06-13-18

Hmmm

Decent voice acting but hindered by a story that loses its way and bad audio post processing that makes it sound over compressed for most of the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • aidan
  • 11-18-15

a good read/listen

A little repetitive in places but a masterpiece none the less.
Would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Sci fi.