October 19, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

New Novel covid-19: day 212 | US: GA | info

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Today, I started Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, a sf novel set about 500 years from now about a generation ship traveling to Tau Ceti. It’s a hard-sf narrative told by the ship’s AI who, after an order from the chief engineer to write the colonists’ story, comments on the idiosyncratic nature of language, the difficulty of metaphor, and general impossibility of narrative to encompass an objective reality. Interestingly, the whole first chapter seems to be told from a third-person, limited-omniscient narrator who’s style seems a reflection of the a young girl’s perspective. Only later do we see that it’s the nascent voice of the ship’s AI.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a story from an AI’s perspective before. Bits of the humans’ lives, still centered on the maturing Freya, are interspersed with the AI’s struggles with human language.

I’ve tried to read KSR before, and gave up—it was 2312. The ideas were cool, but the protagonist was a turd. Because of this, I was apprehensive to begin Aurora, but so far it’s pretty engaging. Adam Roberts of The Guardian calls it “the best generation starship novel I have ever read.” That sounds like a good endorsement. Most the reviews on GoodReads are pretty encouraging, too, though I’m trying not to read too many because spoilers. (Speaking of GoodReads, I found a list about the best sf of the 21st century. I guess it’s based on reviews, because no one person has read this much, surely. A list like this is pretty invaluable.)

I really need to begin on my novel for the spring, but I figured I would knock out a quick sf novel.

(With this post, I’m creating another category about what I’m reading that will be a subcategory of Literary and Daily, and a parent category of Books. I figure that this journal should, if anything, emphasize my literary life.)