Book review: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

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amazon.com

This is a fascinating speculation into the future of human space travel to the Stars. What would happen if you were born, the sixth generation to live on a starship? What if your planet destination was questionably habitable? What if your cohort decided to return to star travel? What if things progressively went wrong? What would star traveling humans had never seen planet-side sunrise?

Robinson does a nice job setting up the scientific premise of a multi-generation ship heading out to the stars. Ho would the 6th generation feel about being brought into a world not of their choosing?

How would the travelers deal with the inevitable technology and mechanical breakdowns over hundreds of years? How can any small society have the resilience to self-repair long enough to reach their goal?

And what if there were major decisions to be made upon arrival? What is the leadership and cultural environment of a ship of 2000, and could it withstand a life or death decision without degenerating into anarchy?

Sure, the storytelling at the individual level is perhaps less compelling, but the grand scale of Robinson’s vision, sweeping across centuries and across vast reaches of interstellar space, is a great journey.

CMIO’s take? The human psyche is fascinating, at the levels of society, community, organization, family, and ultimately individual. Stepping outside our own familiar environs lets us see ourselves more clearly. Sci fi helps me do that. How do you do it?

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, University of Colorado Health; Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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