dissabte, 27 de juny de 2015

Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson (english review)

Disclaimer: English is my third language,  so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. You can read this review also in Spanish here.

Aurora is the latest novel by american author Kim Stanley Robinson, known, among other important books, for his trilogy on colonization and terraformation of Mars.

This excellent and ambitious trilogy is a clear example of his literary style, as it is Aurora:  great ideas and dramatic situations on which the author passes superficially, mixed with an excessive development of secondary aspects of the story that sometimes produce loss of interest on his novels, as if the author disengages the general thread of the plot at times and decides to expand on aspects that he is very interested on, but are not important for the main story. It's a style you like or do not like. My balance leans more on the positive than the negative side, and so I am always expecting the new novels the author writes.

After some time thinking about the novel after I finished reading it, I finally  decided that I liked it. Still, I do not think it's a perfect novel that will like to everybody, too many details are detrimental to the final result of the product, and in some parts of the story the rhythm is very slow.

A brief synopsis: In the XXIII century, a generation ship is sent to the star Tau Ceti, in order to colonize one of the planets in the habitable zone of the star. The action begins when, after hundreds of years of traveling, the planet is near. We will know the story of the ship and his people following the life of a couple and their daughter, as well as from the point of view of the ship's artificial intelligence.

I was interested a lot in the technical and scientific part of the novel: the structure in biomes of the ship, its population distribution and the explanation of the problems that involve closing the different cycles of matter in order to recycle all chemical elements. There are also very interesting moments  dealing with population dynamics, sociology, evolution, microbiology, artificial intelligence, ....even linguistics.

If the novel touches brilliantly all these aspects, because I doubt if it will end up liking? Basically by two points. On the one hand the development of the characters, which costs a lot to empathize with, little charismatic, cold. I always had the feeling of living the story from a third view, further away, not from the perspective of the characters. I suspect that this effect may be deliberate, but it didn't convince me.
Furthermore the rythm is too slow and irregular. I did not expect nor seek a novel plenty of action, and as I mentioned, I've loved many of the speculations and scientific and technical descriptions, but I think they are not well distributed within the plot. The author doesn't benefit the great ideas that are present in the story.

In short: a novel full of bright ideas, with a fantastic scenario, I would rate it as science fiction in capital letters, but the narrative rhythm and the characterization of the characters fail to considerate it an excellent novel. It's a typical example of the style of this great writer.

In November he will publish a new novel, Green Earth, that is a combination of other works previously published related to global climate change. I will be very aware of it.

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