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The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
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The Black Cloud (original 1957; edition 1992)

by Fred Hoyle (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9972215,554 (3.68)47
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)
Member:Sutekh_USyd
Title:The Black Cloud
Authors:Fred Hoyle (Author)
Info:Lightyear Pr (1992)
Collections:Your library
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Work details

The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle (1957)

  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 47 mentions

English (19)  Danish (3)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Very glad I picked this up on a whim as it ended up being one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve read to-date. The forward to the book, by the author’s son, makes for a great opening and gives you an immediate sense of Hoyle’s narrative style.

Hoyle manages to write a captivating story with effortless flourishes of philosophical insight, investigational inquiry, and the kind of social dynamics that enable an organic and personal development of each character. Getting to know each one so intimately enables a kind of intuitive understanding of personality that Hoyle manages to maintain through every page.

The tempo of the novel was as good as it gets; very much in line with that of an early Crichton novel. The scientific exhibitions were top-notch in that Hoyle illustrates just how ambiguous terms such as “science”, “fact” and “understanding” really are and, perhaps more importantly, how people who often attribute these labels to themselves often take them for granted.

The number of narrative elements that Hoyle incorporates are manifold and manage to contain an extremely coherent story full of speculative and entertaining conversation, scientific triage, insightful thinking and, ultimately, a very believable reality within unbelievable circumstances. ( )
  mitchanderson | Jan 17, 2021 |
Quite dated in a few ways, but a rigorous example of the "competent scientist". ( )
  jakecasella | Sep 21, 2020 |
I've read hard science fiction before (in the genre sense, not like [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330616468s/338798.jpg|2368224] is hard), but this is the first book I've read where the clichéd "Oh noes, according to our calculation we only have a year till disaster strikes!" is accompanied by a footnote explaining the derivation and solution of the differential equation that makes up the aforementioned calculation. Brilliant!

This is indeed science fiction written by a scientist, and the only real problems with the writing are when a less clinical touch is called for. The deaths of hundreds of millions of people when the eponymous cloud arrives are reported as cold statistics, with a vague stiff-upper-lip feeling of "this is a tad unpleasant." That being said, the story is wonderful and the ending intriguing. Anyone into astronomy should definitely give the book a chance. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
I've read hard science fiction before (in the genre sense, not like [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330616468s/338798.jpg|2368224] is hard), but this is the first book I've read where the clichéd "Oh noes, according to our calculation we only have a year till disaster strikes!" is accompanied by a footnote explaining the derivation and solution of the differential equation that makes up the aforementioned calculation. Brilliant!

This is indeed science fiction written by a scientist, and the only real problems with the writing are when a less clinical touch is called for. The deaths of hundreds of millions of people when the eponymous cloud arrives are reported as cold statistics, with a vague stiff-upper-lip feeling of "this is a tad unpleasant." That being said, the story is wonderful and the ending intriguing. Anyone into astronomy should definitely give the book a chance. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
Honestly, just skip the maths, forget it's got too much science and not enough sex. It's brilliant. It might be a boy's book, I know a couple now who keep it by their bed, but I found it unputdownable.

The interaction with other intelligent life is very moving. The politics felt real.

I wonder what would happen if everybody in the world had to read this, just to get a glimpse of what catastrophic climate change would be like. Maybe it would make us even more complacent, since in the the story itself everything sorts itself out relatively quickly. I don't know...
( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (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.

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It was eight o'clock along the Greenwich meridian.

Chapter one : Opening scenes.
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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.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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