This ambitious hard SF epic shows Robinson (Shaman) at the top of his game. Freya and her parents live aboard a starship that has traveled for generations and will soon reach Tau Ceti, a star about 12 light years from Earth’s solar system. Freya’s mother, Devi, is the de facto chief engineer, struggling to keep the ship’s environment balanced until they reach a new world and, they hope, survive on it. But ecologies are delicate, resources are limited, and the laws of physics are immutable. Over the course of Freya’s life, her community faces genuinely surprising struggles for survival, leading Freya to wonder whether it is too late to reconsider a question initially decided millions of miles away and centuries ago: should this ship have been launched in the first place? As always, Robinson is at his best when dealing with large populations, scientific questions, and logistics, and the very human characters are more than afterthoughts. Even an occasional lapse into preaching about the philosophical problems with space exploration can’t mar this poignant story, which admirably stretches the limits of human imagination. (July)
"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
Robinson's latest tome opens as a generation colony ship approaches its destination and the end of its projected lifespan. Regression to the mean has taken its toll on the mechanical and human elements of the massive ship, and engineer Devi holds it together only with the help of the ship's ever evolving artificial intelligence. Her daughter, Freya, may lack her mother's intelligence, but none of her love for the ship and their mission. VERDICT At times ponderous but never dull, this novel offers a lengthy exploration of humanity's reach beyond the solar system in a search for a new home. Robinson fans will recognize many of the technical elements of the ship as it is a product of the solar system that is home to many of the author's previous books, including the award-winning 2312. [See Prepub Alert, 2/2/15.]—Jessica Moyer, Sch. of Information Studies, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Freya knows nothing except life on the ship. She and her family have been traveling through space for generations, heading to Aurora, a new sun, and a new life. They are close to arrival, which is fortunate because supplies are running out. But Aurora isn't the saving grace it was hoped to be—the landing crews have to deal with strong winds and worse. The ship community must decide what to do—attempt life on Aurora? Head to another inhabitable planet or see if the struggling ship can make it back to Earth? Freya may not be a chief engineer like her mother, but she has the ability to unite her people, and the ship itself believes in her. With the recent success of Andy Weir's The Martian (Crown, 2014), space fiction is in the limelight, and this epic by a well-respected author won't disappoint fans seeking an apocalyptic adventure. The idea that a dying Earth will send ships to space to save humanity isn't a new plotline, but Robinson develops an artificially intelligent spaceship that becomes an important parental figure to Freya. Her world might end soon, and readers will root for a lifesaving miracle. VERDICT A natural introduction to adult science fiction for teens.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
Robinson's latest well-researched novel exposes the fundamental flaws in one of science fiction's most beloved tropes: the multigenerational space ark traveling at sub-light speed to colonize a planet around a distant star. In the 26th century, a ship departs our solar system, bound for the Tau Ceti system and carrying 2,000 humans who live within a series of miniecosystems. Nearly 200 years later, the descendants of the original crew are preparing to reach their destination—and it's none too soon, because the detrimental aspects of living in a closed (but leaking) system without recourse to fresh chemical, biological, and material supplies have begun to multiply. The ship and the biomes within it (including the people living there) are breaking down. Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that the planets and satellites of Tau Ceti may not be suitable for colonization. Science fiction from previous decades has nearly always assumed that humanity's spreading out among the stars was not only possible, it was probable or maybe even inevitable. Current scientific research, as well as prevailing social, political, and economic conditions, makes that seem less sure. Again, most SF imagines we'll be able to overcome those challenges over the centuries; Robinson (Shaman, 2013, etc.) builds a fairly convincing case that we might not and vividly describes the biological and psychological damage that long-term space travel might cause. Allowing the ship's artificial intelligence to serve as the novel's primary omniscient narrator gives Robinson the excuse to deliver a multitude of mini science lectures (which do border on the pedantic at times, a frequent hazard of hard SF). It would have been nice if, among all the detailed explanation, the author had explained why the starship has no formal command structure (no captain, no navigator, no formally titled chief engineer). A compelling (if depressing) argument against those who still dream of an interstellar manifest destiny.