So, as readers of this blog will know, I didn't discover literary fiction and the classics until quite late. But when I did, at 19, I read a lot. One of the things I did was go to a Reading Group. My memories are a little hazy but I'm sure it was held at my old secondary school. There were maybe five or six women there, all well over 50. They were open and friendly and the book under discussion was The Return of the Native: my first Hardy and I suspect my first classic after Austen and the Brontes. Despite my nerves I was effusive in my delight - I had loved it.
All good then? Well yes, but what I remember most is the response I got. Those women were happy for me but seemed to think I was SO impressed because I was so new to it all. I wish I could remember phrases or words they used. Did they really call me callow? I doubt it. Proud thing that I was (am!?) I felt a little patronised. I didn't go again. Silly fool.
I remember all this now because Aurora is my first Kim Stanley Robinson novel. (And to be fair I don't read that much 'core' science-fiction either)
Fuck me, it's SO good. Are they ALL this good?
It's clever in ALL kinds of admirable, amazing ways. And FULL of wonder and ideas. And it's political and incredibly and ridiculously relevant to everything that's going on in our fucked up, crazy world. And the science is BRILLIANT, never in the least bit boring, at all: it just made me think and ponder and gasp with understanding and more questions. And though there's lots of information and a limited amount of story I didn't care because it was FASCINATING!
Is it a little didactic? Maybe, but it's discursive too and it OPENED up the world to me in all kinds of ways so I don't mind at all.
AND please do not compare it with The Martian. Don't go there. Ever. (Though I know people have) I managed 50 pages of that and just wanted him to die. No not Andy Weir! The Watney fella.
So anyway. Go ahead, patronise me. I don't care. But read the book. I loved it.
And Clark judges, if this isn't on the shortlist you are WRONG. Just sayin.
For a thorough review of Aurora - rather than the excessive amount of CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks on show here - check out Adam Roberts in the Guardian.
Also, what is essential Robinson - I'm assuming the Mars trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt.
Anything else that I HAVE to read?