Aurora is the title of a Kim Stanley Robinson novel published in July 2015. It deals with the journey of an intergenerational interstellar spaceship with the mission to colonize Aurora, the moon of a planet in a star twelve light-years away from the solar system. As the novel begins, the ship has started decelerating to its destination, still eleven years away.
/!\ Beware of spoilers! Moreso than your typical KSR novel, Aurora is more plot-driven and contains several plot twists.
1. Starship Girl
2. Land Ho
Freya's wanderjahr around the ship's biomes, befriends Euan. Devi dies. Arrival at Aurora.
3. In the Wind
Exploration. Contamination. Euan dies. Ship inhabitants protect themselves from the Aurora settlers.
4. Reversion to the Mean
Confusion. Vote on what to do next. Violence. Ship intervenes. Reveal of the fate of the twin ship. Town meetings. Settling of Iris. Half the ship departs for Earth.
Trip back. Failing ecosystems, starvation. Adapting hibernation technology.
6. The Hard Problem
Ship musings as it approaches Sol. Gravity-assisted deceleration. Separation of pods, last attempt at deceleration.
7. What Is This
Survivors on Earth, shown around, confused. Landscape restoration on a beach.
Freya: a young girl at the start of the novel
Badim: Freya's father
Devi: Freya's mother, the ship's chief engineer and highly regarded problem-solver
Euan: an adventurous friend of Freya's
Jochi: a friend of Freya's strong in mathematics
Aram: a friend of Badim's, leader of the math group
Ship: the ship's artificial intelligence
Population at start of narrative: 2122.
Destination: Tau Ceti star, planet E (with a moon, Aurora), planet F (with a moon, Iris). Distance from Earth: 11.9 light-years.
Voyage began in 2545 CE; narrative begins year 159 (2604 CE); journey ends year 363 (2908 CE).
24 cylinders in two rings with twelve major Terran ecological zones (permafrost glacier, taiga, rangeland, steppes, chaparral, savannah, tropical seasonal forest, tropical rain forest, temperate rain forest, temperate deciduous forest, alpine mountains, temperate farmland). Each cylinder 1 km in diameter, 4 km long. Cylinders connected with each other by tunners, and to the inner ring via spokes, which is close to the central spinal axis. Rotation creates .83 g centrifugal force.
- Ring A (Old World ecosystems): Tasmania; Himalayas; Yangtze; Siberia; Iran; Mongolia; the Steppes; the Balkans; Kenya; Bengal; Indonesia; Hokkaido
- Ring B (New World ecosystems): Nova Scotia; Sierra; Prairie; Labrador; Pampas; Sonora; Piedmont (?); Costa Rica; Amazonia; Olympia; Patagonia
In an interview with Romanian website SFMag in March 2014, Stan says:
"I just finished a starship novel in which people in a multi-generational starship try to get to Tau Ceti and occupy one of the planets around that star (actually a big moon of one of the planets). Problems follow..."
In September 2013, in an interview at FDL Book Salon, Stan mentioned:
"My next novel is going to be about a multi-generational starship, actually.
But I don’t think they are going to work. I’m still working on that idea.
It’s part of the thinking going on in 2312 and Shaman, and so I think the three books will make a kind of argument for what we are and what we can or should try to become in the future.
This is something my editor, Tim Holman, has been pointing out to me; that these three books will make a kind of extended argument or case."
Also in September 2013, in an interview with Amazing Stories:
ASM: What projects are you working on now that we can look forward to?
KSR: Another science fiction novel, of course; this time, about a multi-generational starship to a nearby star.
- Gerry Canavan for The Los Angeles Review of Books: The Warm Equations
- Gary K Wolfe for Locus: "Robinson is among the premier literary figures in modern SF"
- Alan Cheuse for NPR: "near-perfect marriage of the technical and the psychological"
- Book of the Month at Space.com
- Adam Roberts for The Guardian: "Aurora is a magnificent piece of writing, certainly Robinson’s best novel since his mighty Mars trilogy, perhaps his best ever."
- Niall Alexander for Tor.com: "its depiction of the ascent of artificial intelligence must be among the most momentous takes on the topic science fiction has ever seen"
- Annalee Newitz for Gizmodo + io9 Book Club
- The Daily Democrat, also includes reporting on a reading and Q&A event at the Avid Reader bookstore in Davis
- News outlets: Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Star, Financial Times (gets a medal for spoiling the end with the first sentence), Otago Daily Times, The Age
- Kirkus Reviews
- Blogs: Val's Random Comments ("without a doubt one of the notable releases in science fiction of 2015")
- SF&F Reviews
- Xeno Swarm
- Examined Worlds
- Hacked ("Yes, Mr. Robinson, we can go to the stars": a cyberpunk post-humanist critique)
- Sunshine Coast Daily: Science is sexy again, by John Grey
- IEET: Nitpicking, by David Brin
- Public Books: Searching for Purpose, by N. Katherine Hayles
- Ancient Logic, by Morgan Crooks
- Boing Boing: Space is bigger than you think, by Cory Doctorow
- James Nicoll reviews
- Tech Insider: The best sci-fi novel of 2015 completely changed the way I think about humanity's future, by Rafi Letzter
- The Westmorland Gazette, by Andrew Thomas
- Science Fiction Book Review Podcast (audio), by Luke Burrage
- The Coode Street Podcast (audio), by Jonathan Strahan
- Comic Crits (comic)