I thought this book was short and my idea was to start by saying that it is fantastic how much Robinson has fitted on so few pages. When I checked the number of pages (480) I first thought I looked at the wrong book as i thought it was under 200. It is still impressive to create the kind of epos that Auroa is in 480 pages (it is the kind of story that tend to be a trilogy), but with 480 pages I'm impressed that I never lost interest.
I don’t know why I liked this book so much, it just felt as if it was written with passion and an curiosity to explore new areas in new ways. I will try to not provide any spoilers, but there is a theme that should feel very depressing and limiting, still I felt it was presented in such a beautiful way that I felt very inspired when the book was over.
I would not go as far as saying that it opened up a new category for me, but usually I look for one of four things in a science fiction.
1. Extrapolation: A world where new technology/trend is extrapolated in a way that is interesting, especially the social/psychological implications (e.g. if we are where to upload our minds into computers how could such a society look and what are the new challenges/opportunities, or what will happen if the geopolitical situation changes dramatically)
2. Creative solutions: A mystery solved in a fascinating way or a new twist on a well known phenomena (a creative solution to the Fermi paradox is a good, and common, example)
3. Utopias/dystopias: Where a whole new world is created that is portrayed as something positive (more interesting but not very common) or negative)
4. Transitions: What happens over time, not just one transition - multiple transitions.
I would argue that this book covers all four areas and one more, it creates a set of characters that you get to know as they pursue a journey that in many ways is a modern Aniara. As I wrote above I still do not know why I like the book so much, but in some ways it feels like a friend that you do not want to analyze just for the sake of finding flaws.
For me it was also surprising that I liked the book the way I did as I think the way the narrative was created was simple and used no fancy tricks to capture the imagination. As I tend to like smart tricks in science fiction this book almost felt like a good book, that just happened a science fiction setting.
Compared with many other science fiction authors Robinson focus on the human element, and does so with empathy. So many science fiction writers only have people in the stories to explain the technologies and/or cool ideas. It is as if Robinson really want humanity to find a way forward.
Not sure if any of what I write about this book make sense, regardless I would recommend giving this book a chance. I feel lucky that I came across Robinson and will look for more books to read.
[Ps. As I was looking for another book by Robinson I came across this article… that I recommend as it provides an interesting perspective on Robinson. The article was written before Aurora, and it looks like Robinson might have a few books that I look forward to read.]