Contact Mass Market Paperback – Jul 1 1997
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Who could be better qualified than the author of the highly successful Cosmos to turn the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, and humankind's first contact with it, into imaginative reality? This is precisely what Sagan does in this eagerly awaited and, as it turns out, engrossing first novel. The basic plot is very simple. A worldwide system of radio telescopes, in the charge of brilliant astrophysicist Ellie Arroway, picks up a "Message" from outer space. Ellie is instrumental in decoding the message and building the "Machine" for which it gives instructions (despite stiff opposition from religious fundamentalists and those scientists and politicians who fear it may be a Trojan Horse). Then she and fellow members of a small multinational team board the machine, take a startling trip into outer spaceand on their return must convince the scientific community that they are not the perpetrators of a hoax. Sagan's characters, mostly scientists, are credible without being memorable, and he supplies a love interest that is less than compelling. However, his informed and dramatically enacted speculations into the mysteries of the universe, taken to the point where science and religion touch, make his story an exciting intellectual adventure and science fiction of a high order. First serial to Discover Magazine; BOMC selection. Foreign rights: S & S. October 1
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Wow. I literally didn't want to get out of my car. As good as Jodie Foster was in the film, her audio read was remarkable. She really is as good as they get on screen and in my car stereo. Her talent was to convey the wonder of the book and make me care about the issues and she really delivers.
If you are thinking about buying this, you won't regret it. The only regret you may feel is that Carl is now gone and there won't be any more of his wonderfully educating stories.
"Contact" (the film) is NOT an adaptation. Carl Sagan died in the midst of production, but up until that point, he was on the set working with actors, directors, and prior to that with writer James V. Hart every single day. Sagan and Druyan initially planned Contact as a film, but the idea was EXPANDED in the book. The book spans many, many years and has multiple perspectives. Although it would be possible to do the same with the medium of film (and in a select few instances, Zemeckis chooses this approach), it's a much riskier approach and, if you know your Contact history, not what Sagan and Druyan originally intended.
The main theme (as evidenced by its placement in the book's resolution) in the book is Ellie's isolation. As for science and religion, it's less about conflict and more about faith: Sagan notes (as others have, though less eloquently) that faith is no less necessary for science than for religion.
As for Ellie...brilliant! What's unique about Sagan's characterization of a woman in science is the exploration of her faults: her stubbornness, her self-absorption, her inability to truly connect, her own xenophobia...the list goes on. So few authors can present a character in a balanced manner without suggesting that she will somehow be punished for her humanity. In the end, the only judgment that comes to Ellie is her own--despite her self-absorption, Ellie has little sense of her SELF. All her confidence--all her strength--has roots that Ellie herself has been unwilling to recognize.Read more ›
Underneath the picture data is more hidden data. This is eventually deciphered to be the blueprints of a device. As the world reacts to almost indisputable proof that we are not alone the device is built and a team is assembled to test it.
Upon activation the scientists find themselves traveling at unimaginable speeds to a distant location. Each traveler is individually greeted in a form to make them comfortable. One is greeted by a deceased father. After glimpsing the almost miraculous peace of this civilization, the travelers return at the exact moment they departed and all of the records of the trip are blank. Everyone refuses to believe that there actually was a trip except the travelers themselves.
While CONTACT starts out on a firm scientific basis that is gripping and well written, I found the novel as a whole to be disappointing. What starts as good hard-core science fiction quickly transforms into the account of what can only be called a religious experience. At least one bookstore actually shelved the book in the religion section. While I personally have no problem accepting both science and religion I felt that this book did a poor job of joining or reconciling the two. Despite my objections to the plotting I will recommend the book as it is quite well written.
After deciphering many layers (good old mathematical precision), the message is clear; it is an instruction manual for building a device. Theories abound„oDoomsday Machine, Trojan Horse, Space Ship. Despite the outcry of the pessimists, two projects are funded and the unit is built in both the Americas and Asia. Both of them get destroyed.
In the end, a Japanese parts supplier has been secretly building a third device on Hokkaido. Ellie is chosen for the crew.
The international project to build the device becomes known as the >Machindo Project< and Machindo comes to be a byword for international cooperation. Besides various bureaucratic wheelings and dealings, religious zealots also take aim at the Machindo Project: They say "If it is a message from the heavens then it's a message from God?" This being so, many zealots reason, and many different responses arise.
How Ellie rails against the imprecision of religion! For instance she determines there can be no God because so many people see God differently (Note-does that mean there is no George W Bush because many people see him differently?). She also considers that if there were a God, then man would know ALL even in the dawn-times of humanity.
For those who've only seen the movie, the journey to meet the senders of the message is a bonus.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Was totally disappointed with the book. Carl Sagan spends too much time on unimportant details (probably using it as filler)and very little on the main story. Read morePublished on May 13 2011 by peppe51
"Contact" is the story of one Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a radio astronomer whose work is responsible for Earth's first contact with an extraterrestrial species. From the start, Dr. Read morePublished on July 8 2004 by Kurt M. Weber
While taking care to keep the fantastical adventure scientifically sound, Sagan seems to have given into his didactic nature. Read morePublished on June 14 2004 by Veloci86
Sagan had the knack of getting his humanistic point of view out without being offensive to the general populace. Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by J. McAndrew
I would never have guessed that Sagan, a hardheaded, agnostic, scientific type would have in him a book with such a fine sense of character development and emotional pitch. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Mark H. Drought
The classic science fiction theme of humanities' first brush with alien intelligence occupies center stage in Sagan's adequate, but not artful, novel. Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2004 by Joshua Lindsey