I’ve never been the biggest fan of hard science fiction, mainly because I like fiction that’s heavily character-driven, and a lot of hard SF seems to sacrifice character for science. I had that problem withÂ Aurora to a point, though I did think some of the characters were far more well developed than in other hard SF I’ve read. And it’s an interesting book, no doubt. It’s very well written, and it’s obvious that Robinson researched the hell out of it. But I just didn’t connect with the point of view character, Freya, as much as I’d have liked.
Giving a plot summary would pretty much tell you everything that happens in this book, so I’m going to stick to the very basics. At the beginning of the story, Freya is a 14 year old girl, the daughter of the chief engineer of a generation ship that’s been on its way from Earth to Tau Ceti, a star 14 light years away, for more than 150 years. The story, told as the ship’s AI attempts to learn how to write a narrative, follows Freya as the ship gets closer to its destination, a moon that they hope will support a human colony.
Having the ship tell the story was a really interesting choice, since it leads to a very different sort of story than you’d normally read. The ship often digresses into descriptions of the physics and biology involved in keeping itself a viable habitat for the humans and animals on board, and interestingly, also into internal discussions of human language and the strangeness of the narrative form. It was a very metatexual sort of read, and I did find it fascinating.
I just wish I could’ve connected more with Freya. I actually found her parents, Devi and Badim, to be more compelling characters. Freya felt more like a blank slate than a fully developed character.
Overall,Â Aurora is a very well-written and interesting piece of science fiction. I just wish I would have felt a stronger emotional bond with its protagonist.