Five words from … Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Welcome to the second installment of “Five words from …” our new feature highlighting interesting words from interesting books! Up next is Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

It was an interrelated process of disaggregation, which one night Aram named codevolution.

In Aurora, codevolution is used to describe a process where the evolution of lifeforms begins to diverge, rather than co-evolving as an ecosystem.

Even naming it was a problem, as some called it the cryptoendolith, others the fast prion, others the pathogen, and others simply the bug, or the thing, or the stuff, or the alien, or the whatever.

The word cryptoendolith is formed from roots meaning ‘hidden’, ‘inside’, and ‘stone’.

In the course of this study we found analyses suggesting that the bad feelings engendered in a subaltern population by imperial colonialism and subjugation typically lasted for a thousand years after the actual crimes ceased.

The word ‘subaltern‘ in this context means “marginalized and oppressed by the dominant culture, especially in a colonial context”.

Apparently dreams are very often surreal; oneiric, meaning “dreamlike,” has connotations of strangeness often startling to the dreamer.

The word ‘oneiric‘ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘dream’.

Criminally negligent narcissists, child endangerers, child abusers, religious maniacs, and kleptoparasites, meaning they stole from their own descendants.

Kleptoparasitism is “the parasitic theft of captured prey, nest material, etc. from animals of the same or another species.”

The people from the stations out around Jupiter and Saturn have made up that name for it: they come back from space to Earth to get a dose of bacteria or whatnot, their sabbatical they call it, come back to get sick in order to stay well, but it’s a tough thing for them, and they often come down with what they call earthshock, and sometimes die of it.

Earthshock is a blend of earth and shock, and isn’t actually a thing yet, although space travel itself has a number of serious physical effects.

Did we miss any other great words in Aurora? Feel free to point them out in the comments!

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