Aurora

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Robinson, Kim Stanley. Aurora. New York: Orbit (an imprint of the Hachette Book Group), 2015. Also available as an unabridged audiobook, which is what Erlich listened to.

Correctly described in Wikipedia entry as of 3 November 2016 as featuring "a generation ship traveling to Tau Ceti in order to begin a human colony. The narrating voice is the starship computer's artificial intelligence," at least for much of the novel; but we note that when the AI speaks explicitly in her/its own voice, the pronoun used is we, denying the idea of unified consciousness.[1] From the points of view of various humans onboard, Ship is home, but also an enclosing, protecting, imprisoning and restricting cybernetic, electronic, mechanical environment, strikingly so when human passengers are cocooned in deep-sleep containers for hibernation, wearing wired "skull caps." Ship sees themselves as a literal cyborg, a cybernetic organism, or mostly machine (by weights) enclosing a large number of living things: from prions, viruses, Archaea, bacteria and other small organisms — the vast majority of living things on Ship — to humans and other mammals. As the story progresses, Ship develops a sense of "subject position" and a bit of a sense of humor. If the central myth of 20th-century SF was expansion into the galaxy, Aurora is contrarian in featuring the portion of the Tau Ceti expedition that chose to return to Earth — and to have near its center development of consciousness and self-awareness by the AI running the starship: concentrating less on outer space than inner.


RDE 03&12/XI/16