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Aurora - a critique by Stephen Baxter and others
Reading through the critique, several other issues and thoughts come to mind. In no particular order:

a) Why assume that planets are necessary for colonization? The very existence of the ship indicates that large, rotating, space colonies are another option. With access to local resources, such as asteroids and moons, and the right equipment, the ship and its population could sustain and expand/replicate itself without bothering with a planet at all.

b) The issue of maintaining a closed ecosystem is brought up. I suppose this might also impact the issue of building space colonies, but:

i) In 500yrs of working on the problem, it seems likely that the state-of-the-art in this area would have improved considerably.

ii) A space colony could be even larger than the ship and so presumably could be more robust in this department.

iii) A space colony needn't be as perfectly closed since it can extract materials, energy, and such from local space to sustain itself.

c) It's mentioned that for the ship to be built in the first place a pretty well developed and wealthy solar civilization would need to already be in existence. This raises several questions/issues:

i) Shouldn't there already be fairly extensive experience with closed ecosystem management already in place? Ok, the ship is as closed as you can get and maybe running longer than has ever been attempted. There should still be some pretty extensive know-how on these things.

ii) The resource base is large enough to send a full colony mission, but not sufficient to send a probe first to check out the planet/system beforehand and report back? Admittedly, if that had been done the story kind of goes away, but much like the whole issue of the 'prion-like' life-form, this comes across as rather contrived in the service of the book being an author-tract.

iii) Why bother with interstellar colonization in the first place at this point? Assuming the book doesn't describe some factor(s) or event(s) forcing the issue, why are these people going to another star instead of just across the solar system to somewhere they can develop while actually having help fairly close to hand? For the ship to exist in the first place, there needs to be a pretty massive amount of solar system development - but it's doubtful that all the good spots have already been taken (or if they have, that's a factor that would be forcing things).

Overall, it sounds like the book somewhat loses something in the way of logic and contrived circumstances in its quest to make a point or argument vs just telling a good story.

On a somewhat related note - a magbrake would work at the speeds described but would be much less capable (they get better the faster you're going and taper off as you slow down). So it might or might not have taken too long to slow down for the ship to survive. Although, since such isn't apparently mentioned in the story, we can't assume that it even plays a role.

Similarly, if the solar civ in the book can field 100,000TW (which is really about standard for starships - maybe a little high), then it could use beamrider tech to send a whole fleet of vessels, probably at a higher speed (and using mag-brakes to slow down) and saved themselves a lot of headaches.



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RE: Aurora - a critique by Stephen Baxter and others - by Drashner1 - 08-16-2015, 11:31 PM

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