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Literature / Aurora Cycle

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The Aurora Cycle is a series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, authors of The Illuminae Files. The first book, Aurora Rising, was published in 2019. Less than two months after the first book's release, it was announced that MGM Television had optioned the series for a TV adaptation.

The year is 2380. Tyler Jones, the star Alpha cadet of Aurora Academy, misses his graduation and the Draft that would have allowed him to pick out the best squadmembers because, unable to sleep the night before, he goes on a flight into the Fold and discovers the hulk of the legendary lost colony ship Hadfield, with one survivor among the cryo-frozen colonists aboard. As a result of his heroic rescue. Ty is stuck with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits for his squad, including his twin sister Scarlett and their childhood friend Cat Brannock, who turn down other offers to be on his team. They're joined by detached scientist Zila Madran, tech specialist with a chip on his shoulder Finian de Karran de Seel, and hot-headed warrior Kaliis Idraban Gilwraeth.

And that's not the newly-formed Aurora Legion Squad 312's biggest problem: When they're sent out on their first mission, an apparently mundane supply run, they quickly find that the girl out of time that Ty rescued, Aurora Jie-Lin "Auri" O'Malley, has stowed away on their ship. Because their real mission is protecting Auri from the sinister human military forces who are after her to silence her at all costs. Auri, you see, is not the same person she was when she went into stasis 220 years before, and has become the key to a war one million years in the making...


Tropes present in this series:

  • Ace Pilot: The role of the Aces in Aurora Legion squads. Cat's nickname is "Zero" for the number of targets she missed in training.
  • Alien Blood: Syldrathi bleed purple, and Betraskans bleed pink. Members of the Ra'haam gestalt bleed blue.
  • Alien Kudzu: The Ra'haam has supplanted all plant life on Octavia III's surface, and wishes to spread itself to all worlds.
  • Alliterative Name: Jericho Jones, Scarlett and Tyler's late father.
  • Anything That Moves: Fin expresses attraction to individuals of multiple genders and species.
  • The Assimilator: The Ra'haam is capable of infecting members of sapient species to become agents of itself, but only if those individuals stray onto one of the 22 planets it's incubating on. It wants to absorb everything else into its gestalt.
  • Bar Brawl: Ty, Auri, Kal, Scarlett and Zila get caught up in one on Sempiternity after a run-in with a group of Unbroken Syldrathi, made worse when an alert that Auri is now a wanted fugitive with a reward pops up.
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  • The Big Guy: Tanks serve this role in Aurora Legion squads. Kal is Squad 312's, and as a member of the Syldrathi Warbreed Cabal, he's good at what he does.
  • Botanical Abomination: The Ra'haam, a thing that controls people by implanting plant-like growths in them, and wants to devour all life in the galaxy. And it's waking up from its million-year dormancy...
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's mentioned early on that part of the Octavia mission included sending chimps over as part of the biological research going on. The squad gets attacked by the Ra'haam-infested animals when they go to Octavia.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Tyler Jones sees himself as having this, as his rescue of Auri led to him missing the Draft and getting stuck with a squad composed mostly of the rejects no other Alphas wanted.
  • Civil War: The Syldrathi are undergoing one between the faction who chose to make peace and the faction who didn't.
  • The Clan: Betraskan society is divided into these. They tend to be very large.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The six streams of cadets and legionnaires of the Aurora Legion are denoted by different-coloured stripes on their blue-grey uniforms: blue for Alphas, yellow for Faces, white for Aces, purple for Gearheads, red for Tanks and green for Brains.
  • Command Roster: The initial team is a perfect fit.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • The Betraskans' colouration is completely greyscale.
    • In the Fold, everything is black-and-white.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Part of the Sempiternity heist involves Kal and Zila disguising themselves as a couple of fast-food delivery guys.
  • Demonic Possession: The Ra'haam infects people who encounter it on its incubation planets and takes them over. This happened to many of the Octavia colonists, including Auri's father and his co-worker Patrice, and it happens to Cat near the end of the first book. She makes them leave, knowing she's beyond help.
  • Doomed Hometown: Syldra, the homeworld of the Syldrathi, was destroyed a year before the series begins.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Part of the squad's plan to steal the Eshvaren statue involves acquiring GIA uniforms, with their face-concealing helmets, for several members of the squad to wear.
  • Dug Too Deep: The Octavia colonists encountered the hibernating Ra'haam during their geological excavations into the planet's mantle.
  • Enemy Within: Kal has something inside him that he calls this, and he struggles to hold back its bloodlust.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: The Fold, known as the Void to the Syldrathi. Its human name comes from the fact that it "folds" space to make distances much shorter.
  • Extra Eyes: Chellerians have four eyes.
  • Eye Colour Change:
    • Auri's right iris turns white when she first uses the telekinesis that comes with her Trigger powers.
    • Cat's eyes turning from brown to blue are the first visible sign that she's been infected by the Ra'haam pollen.
  • The Face: "Face" is the actual title of the diplomats who are members of the Aurora Legion. Scarlett is Squad 312's Face, and she's very good at reading and interacting with people.
  • Faceless Goons: The soldiers of the Global Intelligence Agency wear armour and helmets that completely cover their bodies, which makes them intimidating and inhuman, especially as they're chasing our heroes. This also hides the physical signs of their possession by the Ra'haam.
  • Facial Markings: All Syldrathi have a tattoo on their forehead denoting which Cabal they're part of. The Warbreed Cabal's symbol is three crossed blades, while the Waywalker Cabal's symbol is a crying eye.
  • Fake Defector: During the heist on the World Ship, Cat plays this role as part of the plan, pretending to take up the offer from a squad of GIA agents who try to turn her.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Tyler does this with Kal when they sneak into Sempiternity's computer hub so Finian can install a leech when the two are nearly discovered by a computer tech.
  • Family Honour: Important to Betraskans as part of their clan system. Finian gets his cousin on Sempternity to help by offering to owe favours.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Ty studied famous generals like Sun Tzu, Hannibal, Napoleon, Eisenhower, Tankian, Giáp and Osweyo.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Betraskan names are comprised of a given name, then two last names, the first denoting their immediate family and the second their clan, e.g. Finian de Karran de Seel and Danil de Verra de Stoy.
  • Fictional United Nations: The Aurora Legion is a joint venture between the humans, Betraskans and most recently Free Syldrathi that serves as a neutral mediating force.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the time they escape the World Ship, the members of Squad 312 have come to trust each other after the dangers they've gone through.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley spent 220 years in suspended animation aboard the Hadfield when it was lost in the Fold before Tyler rescues her.
  • Five-Man Band: Aurora Legion squads have six members, each with an official role:
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The Eshvaren have been gone for a million years, but they left behind whatever turned Auri into the Trigger, as well as artifacts like the statue containing the map of the Ra'haam's presence.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • First Auri, and then the other members of Squad 312, have dreams of blue snow falling on their homeworlds. The "snow" is actually Ra'haam pollen.
    • During the heist on the World Ship, Cat plays the role of Fake Defector by pretending to accept an offer to betray her teammates from some GIA agents. The agents are members of the Ra'haam gestalt. Guess what fate befalls Cat by the end of the first book?
  • For Science!: Zila got reprimands for things like locking two classmates in a lab to test a serum she developed for a virus, and shooting another classmate repeatedly with a stun-gun. This seems to be her primary motive for a lot of things.
  • Fugitive Arc: Starting with their escape from the Bellerophon, Squad 312 is being chased by the human government, and possibly other governments, for their alleged crimes, while having to somehow save the Milky Way in the process.
  • Ghost Planet: Octavia III is covered in the unnatural flora of the Ra'haam, with every living thing on the planet now part of its gestalt, and the planet's one settlement now overgrown ruins.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Or, rather, eye. Auri's white eye glows whenever her Eshvaren powers are active.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Auri says things like "biscuits" and "mothercustard" instead of real swearwords, to the puzzlement of others.
  • Government Conspiracy: It becomes clear by the end that the human military, and likely the government, is under the control of people infested with Ra'haam, who are carrying out its bidding.
  • Hazmat Suit: The squad dons these when exploring Octavia III. Cat is infected by the Ra'haam when her suit is torn open during a fight with a monster chimp.
  • Heroic Willpower: Cat manages to hold the Ra'haam back for long enough to let the others escape Octavia.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: By the end, Squad 312 are fugitives from the human government, and likely have a bad rep with many other governments, but are the only ones who know of the threat of the Ra'haam.
  • Hive Mind: The Ra'haam, as it is indicated that all 22 planets where it's incubating are effectively the same entity, as are the people it controls. The Eshvaren intelligence in Auri outright calls it a gestalt.
  • Honey Trap: Scarlett sets up a double date with herself, Cat and two human security guards at the Bianchi Museum to knock them out and steal their uniforms for Ty and Kal to infiltrate the World Ship's computer hub.
  • Humanoid Aliens: All sentient species in the galaxy are bipedal, carbon-based oxygen-breathers. This has affected religious beliefs in-universe, including the development of a religion called the Universal Faith.
  • Human Popsicle: People above the age of 25 travel the Fold in suspended animation because traversing it conscious has deleterious effects on their brains. In fact, spending too much time in the Fold while conscious can negatively affect anyone.
  • Human Weapon: Auri has been transformed into the Trigger for a weapon the Eshvaren created to be used against the Ra'haam.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Tyler turned down Cat this way, and it's been something of a strain between them ever since.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: One of Tyler's reasons for turning Cat down was because that, as a future Squad Leader, if they're in the same squad he would be her superior officer.
  • Interspecies Romance: One seems to be developing between Auri (human) and Kal (Syldrathi).
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Human ships are described as being of boxy designs that Kal finds rather ugly, preferring his own species' Shiny-Looking Spaceships.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The GIA personnel are referred to as "it" to emphasize how inhuman their full-body armour makes them. And thanks to the Ra'haam, they're not human anymore anyways.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Finian snarks at everyone and everything, but deep down he just wants to belong to a group, and he eventually finds it in Squad 312.
  • Last of His Kind: The Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV is the last member of its species, having eaten all the others, and the pride of Casseldon Bianchi's menagerie. Until Auri destroys it.
  • The Leader: The members of the Aurora Academy's Alpha stream are trained to be this. Tyler was the top-scoring graduate in his year.
  • Light Is Not Good: Princeps, the leader of the GIA agents chasing Auri and Squad 312, wears all white with a silver helmet.
  • Living MacGuffin: Auri is being hunted ruthlessly by the GIA and TDF, and Squad 312's real mission is to protect her from them.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Auri's white streak in her hair, and her right eye after it turns white, mark her as the Eshvaren's weapon.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Scarlett Jones has around 50 or so ex-boyfriends. Every one of them mentioned includes a pro and con, with the con indicated to be the reason she dumped the boy in question.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Auri's Trigger takes over and pops the Great Ultrasaur like a balloon.
  • MacGuffin: The Eshvaren statue that Auri brings them to Sempiternity to steal. The diamond embedded inside it contains a map of the Ra'haam's spread and current incubation planets.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Auri's Skunk Stripe and white eye mark her as being the Eshvaren's Trigger.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Betraskan families are extremely large. It's normal for people to have over one hundred siblings.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Auri, after her right eye turns white. The Eshvaren statue also has a white right eye, indicating the connection between them.
  • Mr. Exposition: Magellan, Auri's second-hand uniglass that Ty gave her with a quirky personality, pipes up with information on almost anything mentioned, often at inopportune times. The page-long interludes between chapters that describe the world are Magellan's "search results" for information about the world Auri is trying to learn... summarized by Magellan.
  • Mugged for Disguise: During the Sempiternity heist, two fast-food delivery boys are subjected to this by Kal and Zila.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Chellerians, Casseldon Bianchi's species, have four arms.
  • Mystical White Hair: Syldrathi all have silver hair.
  • Named After Their Planet: Syldrathi hail from Syldra, and Betraskans from Trask. To fit the scheme, humans are frequently referred to as "Terrans", and Earth as "Terra".
  • Negative Space Wedgie:
    • FoldStorms are one hazard of travelling in the Fold, and one such destroys the Hadfield as Tyler is rescuing Auri.
    • "Temporal storms" are mentioned as one reason to place a sector under Galactic Interdiction.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Auri regrets the fact that her last conversation with her father was her telling him how upset she was with him.
  • No Gravity for You: Part of the Sempiternity heist involves deactivating the station's gravity.
  • Non-Action Guy: Fin has very fragile bones and has to wear a suit that helps him handle regular gravity due to an illness as a child, so he usually stays out of the front-line fighting. He does, however, happen to be a pretty good shot regardless.
  • Noodle Incident: Vague allusions are made to some traumatic incident when Zila was a child that had a major influence on why she is the way she is in the present.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Aurora Legion protocol. Tyler insists on this when Cat is infected by the Ra'haam, but she forces them to go without her because she knows she's a goner.
  • Not Good with People: Finian would rather interact with technology than people.
  • Oh My Gods!: In the future, people invoke the "Maker".
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: All but one of the chapters from Zila's POV. The sole exception is still only two pages.
  • One Steve Limit: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley is rather bemused when she finds out that she's at the headquarters of the Aurora Legion, housing the Aurora Academy, named after the Aurora star system.
  • Only Known By Her Nickname: Cat Brannock isn't called "Catherine" very often, if at all.
  • Orwellian Retcon: The Octavia III colony was wiped from history, with the planet being listed as dangerous and off-limits, and historical records claiming the Hadfield was always headed to Lei Gong III, a completely different planet.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Octavia colonists controlled by the Ra'haam have been dead for two hundred years, controlled by the unnatural plant growths on and in their bodies. The same applies for animals like the chimps.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Auri was upset with her father the last time they spoke because, after having headed off to Octavia by herself since her mother was bumped from the flight, he revealed he was now in a relationship with the woman who would have been her boss on Octavia.
  • Planet Terra: Earth is indeed called this, and humans are also frequently referred to as Terrans.
  • Portal Network: The Jump Gates are the only way in or out of the Fold. There are also the naturally-occurring FoldGates, which were the only way humans could access the Fold when they first discovered it. Human-built Jump Gates are titanium hexagons, while Syldrathi are teardrop-shaped and made of crystal.
  • Precursors: The Eshvaren. Most species in the Milky Way don't believe they ever existed, except for the Syldrathi.
  • Preemptive Apology: Tyler does this to Kal before their Fake-Out Make-Out because Syldrathi view physical contact as being highly intimate.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: The Eshvaren remnant in Auri gives everyone in the squad dreams about the threat of the Ra'haam, most notably dreams of Ra'haam pollen falling on their homeworlds.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Auri gets them when she uses her abilities as the Eshvaren's Trigger, especially when they take her over.
  • Psychic Powers: Species including the Syldrathi, the Ilesars and the Kelinrori have been recorded as possessing mental powers like telepathy, empathy and mild precognition. Auri, as the Eshvaren's Trigger, gains some precognition and powerful telekinesis.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: The Ra'haam.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Locations under Galactic Interdiction are deemed to be so dangerous that galactic law dictates any ship trespassing in an interdicted area be vapourized on sight.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Squad 312 is composed of a top-scoring Alpha whose missing of the Draft left him with the reject Legionnaires no other Alpha wanted; his twin sister, a cocky and sarcastic Face; Zila, a detached scientist described as a potential sociopath with excessive For Science! behaviour; Finian, a tech genius who has a chip on his shoulder and difficulties with teamwork; Kal, a warrior with anger management issues; and Cat, an Ace Pilot who has an unrequited crush on Tyler. And, of course, Auri, the Fish out of Temporal Water with strange abilities. All the Legionnaires are actually highly skilled in their fields, but their personalities don't mesh so well.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Adams and Battle Leader de Stoy, two high-ranking officers in the Aurora Legion. They sent Auri with Squad 312, whose real mission turns out to be to protect her from the Earth authorities.
  • The Reveal:
    • The Trigger that Auri's alien side talks about isn't the statue, it's her.
    • Princeps, the leader of the GIA agents and components of the Ra'haam gestalt chasing Auri, is what's left of her father.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
    • Betraskans look like humans with completely white skin and hair and oversized eyes.
    • Syldrathi have pointy ears, silver hair and purple eyes, resulting in a rather elven appearance.
  • Running Gag: The various members of the squad yelling for Magellan, Auri's second-hand uniglass with an AI personality, to go on silent mode.
  • Send in the Search Team: After finding that Octavia III is one of the planets marked in red on the Eshvaren map, Squad 312 decides to go there, despite it being under interdiction, to investigate why the colony Auri knows was there has since been erased from historical record.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Auri thinks that Syldrathi look like the elves from The Lord of the Rings, and therefore chooses to call Kal "Elrond" and "Legolas".
    • Princeps threatens to have Tyler sent to the Lunar Penal Colony.
    • Fin's dialogue stating that he doesn't believe that chimps exist right before being attacked by one is reminiscent of Westley regarding the Rodents of Unusual Size in The Princess Bride.
    • The Sagan station was once used by now defunct Jupiter Mining Corporation.
  • Skunk Stripe: Aurora has one after her time in the Fold.
  • The Smart Guy: Aurora Legion squads have two: Gearheads focus on technology, while Brains focus on science and medical duties. Finian and Zila respectively serve these roles in Squad 312, and despite their personality flaws, are highly skilled in their respective fields.
  • Space Elves: The Syldrathi have pointy ears and silver hair, leading to Auri constantly calling Kal by the names of various elves from The Lord of the Rings. They also have a lifespan of several centuries.
  • Space Station:
    • The Aurora Legion's headquarters is located on one.
    • Finian was raised on a space station, due to its low gravity being beneficial to his medical condition.
    • Sempiternity, the World Ship, is made up of hundreds of ships connected together.
  • Splash of Color: The Eshvaren starmap is able to display the colour red despite the fact that it was in the Fold at the time.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: It doesn´t take long to realise it.
  • Star Killing: The leader of the Unbroken Syldrathi is known as the "Starslayer" because he possesses a weapon used to turn the star Syldra orbited into a black hole, killing billions.
  • State Sec: Earth's Global Intelligence Agency, comprised of scary Faceless Goons hunting Auri. They are also part of the Ra'haam.
  • Stern Chase: For most of the book, our heroes are pursued by the GIA and the TDF, under the aegis of agents of the Ra'haam, who want to capture Auri.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Every chapter is narrated by one of the 7 main characters, with their name at the beginning.
  • Telekinesis: Generally considered to be fictional in-universe. However, Auri possesses it as part of her Trigger powers.
  • Tempting Fate: After discussing the chimpanzees sent to Octavia, Fin ultimately comes to the conclusion they don't exist... right before getting attacked by one.
  • They Know Too Much: The refugees at Sagan Station and the personnel of the Unbroken warship are killed because the Terran Defence Forces don't want anyone to know about Aurora O'Malley being in their custody. This nearly happens to Squad 312, but Zila points out that she's deduced this is likely to occur and persuades Tyler to lead an escape.
  • Time Abyss: The Ra'haam is over a million years old at least. When Cat is infected by it, she feels its immense age.
  • Touched by Vorlons: During her time in the Fold, Auri was modified by things left behind by the Eshvaren to become the Trigger for a Weapon they created to use against the Ra'haam.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When Squad 312 needs to steal an Eshvaren statue from crime lord Casseldon Bianchi on Sempiternity, the plan, which involves using the GIA agents who tried to turn Cat against the rest of the group and relies on them deliberately getting caught, is not explained until after it's been carried out, albeit with a few hiccups.
  • Unperson: The first sign that something is wrong comes when Auri finds that the Octavia colony and the Butler settlement have been wiped from the historical record, as were its residents, including her father.
  • Villainous Rescue: Squad 312 manages to evade the Bellerophon and land on Octavia III when Bianchi arrives in pursuit of them, wanting to retrieve his stolen property, resulting in a fight between the two forces that ends in the destruction of both, save for a shuttle from the Bellerophon carrying Princeps.
  • Viral Transformation: Beings infected with Ra'haam pollen gain flowers and plant life growing out of them.
  • The Virus: The Ra'haam propagates itself through its blue pollen, turning more beings into itself.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: The Terran government sends out alerts claiming that Auri is a dangerous fugitive and promising a reward.
  • Wretched Hive: Sempiternity, the World Ship, is a massive space station frequented by pirates and run by a crime lord.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: One of Scarlett's many ex-boyfriends apparently called her by his mother's name once.


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