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The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle

The Black Cloud (1957)

by Fred Hoyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9091616,044 (3.66)46
A 1959 classic 'hard' science-fiction novel by renowned Cambridge astronomer and cosmologist Fred Hoyle. Tracks the progress of a giant black cloud that comes towards Earth and sits in front of the sun, causing widespread panic and death. A select group of scientists and astronomers - including the dignified Astronomer Royal, the pipe smoking Dr Marlowe and the maverick, eccentric Professor Kingsly - engage in a mad race to understand and communicate with the cloud, battling against trigger happy politicians. In the pacy, engaging style of John Wyndham and John Christopher, with plenty of hard science thrown in to add to the chillingly credible premise (he manages to foretell Artificial Intelligence, Optical Character Recognition and Text-to-Speech converters), Hoyle carries you breathlessly through to its thrilling end.… (more)
Recently added bysallypursell, MartinBuckley, ljus, private library, Javi_er, Serrana, Conor.Murphy, ArchStanton
Legacy LibrariesGeorge C. Marshall, Tim Spalding
  1. 21
    The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel (bertilak)
  2. 00
    The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: There are similarities in style and content between Hoyle and Wyndham. Two classics of British Sci-Fi.
  3. 00
    The Explorer by James Smythe (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: British Sci-fi dealing with a space anomaly

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» See also 46 mentions

English (13)  Danish (3)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Vintage and eschatological SF: "The Black Cloud" by Fred Hoyle

Published 1957

I read this book in my teens. Since then I hadn’t read it. The only things I remembered was that there was a Cloud hurtling toward the Sun, there were Americans and British involved, and that there was a lot of formulas, diagrams, and lengthy expository footnotes on several pages…

After re-reading it, the book’s central question is still the best of it:
“What is the nature of human intelligence?”

The Cloud answers by saying that one should attach labels to one’s neurological states, be it anger, headache, embarrassment, happiness, or melancholy. These states could then be interpreted as being just labels. If someone wished to tell someone else that he was suffering from any kid of ailment, he should make no attempt to describe that particular neurological state. What he should do was to display the label in question. Communication would be just label swapping between two entities.

You can find the rest of this review on my blog. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle is everything you'd want British 1950s SF to be. It's quick. It's clever. It's got tweed-clad, pipe-puffing boffins. It's also got a wicked eye for the self-serving idiocy of politicians.
A gigantic disk of darkness is approaching the Earth: as its first observers are quick to realise, it's going to block out the sun - dooming all life on our planet. Hoyle takes you through the implications and consequences with eerie feasibility and remorseless relish. ( )
  othersam | Nov 21, 2014 |
On the plus side, a fairly interesting premise, and probably the science is solid. On the downside, atrociously unbalanced storytelling (pages devoted to boring minutiae of radio wavelengths, while millions of deaths barely rate a mention), ridiculous speculative leaps by scientists that happen to be right, and the political stuff is really weak. Bleh.

Also, just me, or is there an unstated assumption by all the scientists that the cloud is spherical and not changing in shape? ( )
  stevage | Jul 7, 2014 |
The Black Cloud is a science fiction novel written by astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle. Published in 1957, the book details the arrival of an enormous cloud of gas that enters the solar system and appears about to destroy most of the life on Earth by blocking the Sun's radiation. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The Black Cloud begins when a young Norwegian astronomer photographs a section of sky containing a large, circular dark patch which wasn't there before. From this point on, I found it very difficult to drag myself away from the book. As Richard Dawkins says in his perceptive afterword, it is "one of those stories that grabs you on page one and doesn't let you go until the wee small hours".

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fred Hoyleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skirrow, DesmondCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I hope that my scientific colleagues will enjoy this frolic.

Preface, by Fred Hoyle.
The episode of the Black Cloud has always had a great fascination for me.

It was eight o'clock along the Greenwich meridian.

Chapter one : Opening scenes.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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