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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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 ›
I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie. I think it is a quite provactive work, from anything more than a simplistic analysis anyway. That probably explains why it didn't make billions of dollars: it wasn't obvious enough nor had enough kill-em-all action.
Anyway, the book. The main character Arroway is the same. However she is compelled by far different motivations in the book. She is also not hounded by Drumlin for pursuing a percieved marginal science such as SETI (reflects the time in which the book was written: 1985, when science, especially astronomy was still blessed with the charm to do pure research on the taxpayer dollar and follow such things as SETI- challenger hadn't crashed yet!). The movie obvious takes a different tack, reflecting the harsher realities of now: justifiable science, where dollars must produce results (whether this is right or wrong is never explored in the book, because it isn't an issue). This has skewed the movie in different direction, along with greater knowledge of physics.
The book does develop the apprent conflict of science and religion as managified by the message (yes the psychology, philopsophy and the symbolism is reasonably obvious -> more so in the book than movie). In fact this is something the book does delve deeply into. Possibly a little too deeply because it becomes a little preachy in an issue that all of us must decide for ourselves. I can respect however the need to develop this aspect of the story because christianity and science basically underpin (to an ever diminishing extent) western civilization. And provides fertile soil for the battle between them. Yet tangible and active zealotry on both sides is not explored to any great extent, particularly from the religious camp (unlike the movie).Read more ›
First, any book worth reading should be both entertaining and thought provoking, and hopefully at the end it will have changed or added to how you think about the universe and your life. Well, this book is undoubtably entertaining and is hard to put down, but more importantly there is much to learn and ruminate over within. Whether there is intelligent life out there in the universe is one of the most important unanswered questions left for humanity. Here Sagan explores the implications of finding an intelligent message: how it unites humanity for a common cause and how it changes our view of our place in the universe. On another level, Sagan's book is about one person's quest for meaning. Ellie Arroway travels across the galaxy to find answers, but in the end she finds even more surprising revelations from her step-father back on earth. On yet another level, there is the issue of religion in our society. The characters are very rich in Contact, and each voices their unique opinion on these issues. Here is a book that can be read many times over with new insights each time.
Some highlights of this book are the great writing and dialogue as well as the depth of the characters - a rarity in a SF novel. Also, the science is very well presented. In particular, the chapter on Hadden's final departure is near perfect. Sagan also included many future predictions for 1999 and many of them hit quite close to home.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