Review: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at

robinson_auroraFar beyond the glow of mighty Sol it soars; patient, purposeful, determined. The Ship swims across the galactic emptiness with a single objective; a new home.

Aurora is true space opera told in one of the most classic themes, that of voyage and return. A tale oft told but rarely with such attention to the minutiae of life.

Slowly decelerating from a fraction of the speed of light the Ship settles towards its end goal, a new solar system. In this system are new worlds that can sustain the delicate balances of life, the possibility of starting afresh on a planet light-years from earth the sole purpose of the Ship and its two thousand strong crew. But where life has a chance to bloom, it’s possible that something might already be there, dormant.

Aurora is not a typical tale of bold colonization. This is not a story from the golden age of Science Fiction where every other-world presents no less than dramatic encounters with strange life and inevitable romantic endeavors. This is a story about survival.

Narrative for this novel is written in two parts; that of the perspective of the Ship, already nearing two-hundred years since creation and launch from the solar system that birthed it, already starting to fall apart. And Freya, descendant of the original starfarers who volunteered to travel the interstellar void in a metal ark. Elements told by Freya are emotional and erratic; her perceived inadequacies against the exploits of her engineer mother made up for a deep need for social connection. Those told by the ship are analytical, yet adaptive: an intelligence born of quantum computing and behavioral conditioning by Freya’s mother. Together, the chapters are filled with cause and effect, possible against impossible, hope against fear.

Summing up one of Robinson’s novels is always a difficult challenge; while only one destination is clear, the journey itself is never a direct one. Disaster and desperation are most readily defeated with hope and ingenuity. But when the crops are failing, and disease runs rampant, where is a civilization that’s alone in space to find salvation?

A awe-inspiring read that is often both depressing and uplifting, Aurora is a novel both of and beyond its time. While many of us are wonder if we can make it out among the stars, what would we do to come home again?

A question unasked, until now.



davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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