Every now and then I enjoy reading a good science fiction book. This time I picked up ‘Aurora’ by Kim Stanley Robinson as it got raving reviews. Unfortunately I came out with quite the opposite opinion and I couldn’t even get myself to read the final 30 or 40 pages as the book is massively dystopian. Some people might like such books but I wouldn’t have bothered if I had known.
Read on for more details but beware of spoilers!
I can’t imagine I ever stopped reading a book so close to the end. But here I just gave up it was just too painful emotionally. The story starts interesting enough about a 160 year trip of a generational space ship humans have sent to a planet in the Tau Ceti system. 2000 people are living on board and as the trip takes so long, generations live, die and are born on the ship. The description of the spaceship’s technology is superb and I liked the first half of the book in which problems that come up are tackled and fixed. People are afraid they won’t make it to Tau Ceti but in the end they do. So far, so good.
Unfortunately problems only really start after their arrival and at some point open violent conflict breaks out between the people on board. And from there it’s pretty much downhill, society breaking down, technology breaking down, a massive dystopia for the remainder of the book. Why has no review I came across pointed out that this book is not mainly about science fiction but group dynamics that go south and a view of the future that is less than rosy?
As I said in the beginning I couldn’t bear reading the final pages as it became clear that no matter what happened it would not get to an ending I would enjoy and would personally wish as a future for mankind. Call me a simpleton but I still believe we can evolve.
I was seriously considering to press the “return and get your money back” button which would probably have been possible as I think Amazon’s return policy for ebooks is that you can get your money back within 7 days. But I wouldn’t have brought back a physical book to the bookstore just because I didn’t like the story. After all it comes with no guarantees. So in the end I didn’t, fair is fair.
But to at least end this blog entry with a positive note I can fully recommend Galileo’s dream by the same author. I read that book a few years ago and massively enjoyed the science fiction and history in that book.