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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2015 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (3/5)

I first read this on the 31st August 2016.

A starship makes its slow progress to the planet Aurora in Tau Ceti. On board the generations struggle to survive and to make sense of their lives. But colonizing Aurora is more of a struggle and even more grim. Perhaps people were just meant to explore new worlds, regardless of how hard that may be.

And perhaps not. What a depressing book. Everything devolving it would appear except for the Starship AI and what becomes of that? People dying one by one, by the dozen, by the hundreds. And it's all thrown away, half the colonists abandoned to a likely short and dismal death on Aurora. The remainder in hibernation dying off little by little All seems hopeless really. Should have stayed at home. Look at Freya when she finally gets to gambol in the surf. She'd have been better off staying on Earth and just spending her days at the beach.

Rubbish! Well, it's an interesting premise that we can only live on the planet Earth, because that's where we evolved, but the arguments are the same made throughout history by the the nervous and over-cautious majority who oppose exploration. Don't go looking to live in other countries. You won't like the food. The air is different. You're better off at home. And elaborating on that, you won't get the right nutrients, there won't be enough of you to maintain the gene pool and you'll die younger. Life will be nasty, British* and short. Better not to go at all. I'm sure the Europeans who colonized America thought the same thing at the beginning, but it's fair to say they did fairly well in the end. Even I, when I first moved to Japan, found the food a little surprising, but hold on, now I think of it, isn't the Japanese diet meant to be healthier than the Western? It certainly felt like that to me. And there was certainly more sunshine. Even more sunshine now I've moved to Singapore. I imagine, though, that Singapore was a little tough for Stamford Raffles when he first arrived here.

So although the book was very well written, and occasionally a delight to read, I disagreed so strongly with the basic premise that I have to say, I rather dislike the book.

What's it got? A brilliant generation ship (sadly cut in half). A great AI (but thrown away and forgotten in the panicked flight home). A inspired engineer (Devi, who dies all too soon).

* OK, brutish. But with Brexit almost inevitable I fear the words will eventually achieve a certain synonymy.

Loaded on the 16th February 2018.
Cover of Aurora
Cover by Kirk Benshoff

Reviews of other work by Kim Stanley Robinson
Fifty Degrees Below