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Contact by Carl Sagan
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Contact (original 1985; edition 1997)

by Carl Sagan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,54873779 (3.98)140
Member:jagmuse
Title:Contact
Authors:Carl Sagan
Info:Pocket (1997), Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:fiction, own, tbr, science fiction, made into movie, american, 20th century, 1001

Work details

Contact by Carl Sagan (1985)

  1. 20
    Chindi by Jack McDevitt (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Strange messages from beyond our world lure humans to explore space in the hope of meeting other intelligent life forms.
  2. 12
    Blindsight by Peter Watts (Konran)
    Konran: A first contact tale on the pessimistic end of the spectrum. Also, space vampires. Done well. And they're not the aliens.
  3. 01
    The Big Eye by Max Ehrlich (infiniteletters)
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» See also 140 mentions

English (69)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Loved this book... except for the last 30 or so pages. I'm sorry, Carl, but you lost me there. ( )
  ladypembroke | Nov 22, 2014 |
The story asks the question what would happen if we were ever contacted by radio by an alien civilization. Sagan was assumed to be atheist/ agnositic. Yet the book treats religion in a fair manner. The story asks the compelling questions that folks outside of Christianity that think feel are fair. It looks at the question is personal experience without supporting real world evidence enough to cause someone to believe in something?

So what would a scientist say to astronaut who came back from a journey into space claiming he met aliens yet had no artifacts to support his claim? I think the same things that they say to Christians who claim God became a man and died for peoples wrong doings. These are the main questions that Sagan explores in this story,

I would recommend to this story to everyone who wants to explore the questions of faith and belief while reading a good science fiction novel. ( )
  Cataloger623 | Nov 8, 2014 |
"In the scant few decades in which humans have pursued radio astronomy, there has never been a real signal from the depths of space, something manufactured, something artificial, something contrived by an alien mind.
...
And yet the origin of life now seemed to be so easy — and there were so many billions of years available for biological evolution — that it was hard to believe the Galaxy was not teeming with life and intelligence."

– from Contact by Carl Sagan

So many alien contact stories, especially those presented in movies, show a hostile force invading the Earth, forcing the human race to rally together in order to fight back. This is perspective is often driven by humanity's history of violence and colonization, as well as human paranoia, such as with 1950s alien invasion movies as a metaphor for Cold War fears.

While I've enjoyed many an alien invasion stories (most recently, Falling Skies), I find myself drawn to and prefer first contact stories that are more positive or, at least, more ambiguous.

I think that is part of what made me love the movie Contact so much, when it was released in 1997, that story of ambiguous first contact with alien life based in scientific plausibility. It was a story not wholly built on paranoia and allowed for interesting perspectives to come through — How would people and government and religious groups react if an alien signal arrived from space? Plus it featured a complicated woman, heading the scientific investigation, played by the amazing Jodie Foster. I still get chills just rewatching the movie trailer.
"I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space."
— from Contact (movie version)
It's taken me a long time to get around to reading the novel, but it's been on my to-read list ever since I've seen the movie. I'm so glad I did.

Both the novel and the movie generally follow the same storyline: a team of scientists, lead by Ellie Arroway, discovers a radio signal in space, from the star Vega, and begin to decode a message that ultimately leads to an astounding adventure. But whereas the movie, due to it's limited time frame to unfold the story, is extremely American-centric, the book allows for space and scope to expand into a look at how other nations handle the situation, as well as presenting a more thorough understanding the science. It's the science and the knowledge that the Earth rotates that makes the international scope necessary — a single array of telescopes can only capture the signal from Vega for a short part of the day or night before the Earth rotates away and looses contact with the signal, requiring a global network of radio telescopes along every longitude.

Another thing the book expands upon wonderfully is the character of Ellie, who we see from her birth up through her team's first discovery of the signal and onward. It shows a determined and intelligent woman, who find through science and discovery a sense of wonder in the world and how it works. And, since the story is primarily told from Ellie's point of view, that sense of wonder is settled into the necessary scientific explanations throughout the book, making me want to look at the world with new eyes.

In the face of proof of intelligent extraterrestrial life, the book posits, the world began to grasp a feeling of greater perspective and unified perspective that we are all human. As a result, the Earth's most powerful nations, the U.S., Russia, and China, began to dismantle their nuclear stockpiles as a part of renewed negations. Reading this, I couldn't help but cry and long for some signal to reach us. Our world, in which the world news seems to present announcements of new, bloody conflict everyday, could use a shift in its universal perspective.

"My fondest hope for this book is that it will be made obsolete by the pace of real scientific discovery," writes Sagan in his Author's Note. We're not quite there yet, I don't think, but I hope we will get there. ( )
1 vote andreablythe | Oct 22, 2014 |
Contact is less a science-fiction novel then a discourse on controversial science topics in popular culture. Science and young people, science and women, science and religion, science and skepticism, science and politics, science and funding grants. Replace the aliens with .. global warming .. and it's the same story. In that sense it's a good novel for looking at these topics as reoccurring themes. The story itself ends in a way that isn't too corny leaving open the mystery and endless nature of space. Curiously in the 1970s and early 80s, when the book was being written, SETI was a new thing but now that 35 years have passed, with no signal, it seems increasingly remote, maybe, and the book has lost some its exciting potential, an artifact of another age. ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 15, 2014 |
When I saw the film I felt there was a lot left out. The film's narrative seemed disjointed and rushed. The book while it does fill in some of those glossed in details has its own pacing problems. After spending pages and pages explaining why something can't be done, this road block is suddenly gone. Then there's the ultimate "trip" to Vega is just as disappointing in the book (though certainly more coherent than the cinematic version). ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 20, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carl Saganprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lomberg, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perkins, IrvingDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
For Alexandra,
who comes of age
with the Millennium.
May we leave your generation a world
better than the one we were given.
First words
By human standards it could not possibly have been artificial: It was the size of a world.
Quotations
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.
You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.
She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
Your religion assumes that people are children and need a boogeyman so they'll behave. You want people to believe in God so they'll obey the law. That's the only means that occurs to you: a strict secular police force, and the threat of punishment by an all-seeing God for whatever the police overlook. You sell human beings short.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671004107, Mass Market Paperback)

It is December 1999, the dawn of the millennium, and a team of international scientists is poised for the most fantastic adventure in human history. After years of scanning the galaxy for signs of somebody or something else, this team believes they've found a message from an intelligent source--and they travel deep into space to meet it. Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sagan injects Contact, his prophetic adventure story, with scientific details that make it utterly believable. It is a Cold War era novel that parlays the nuclear paranoia of the time into exquisitely wrought tension among the various countries involved. Sagan meditates on science, religion, and government--the elements that define society--and looks to their impact on and role in the future. His ability to pack an exciting read with such rich content is an unusual talent that makes Contact a modern sci-fi classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:33 -0400)

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In the year 1999 a multinational team of astronauts sets out to discover the secrets of the universe.

(summary from another edition)

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