by Carl Sagan

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cosmos and renowned astronomer Carl Sagan’s international bestseller about the discovery of an advanced civilization in the depths of space remains the “greatest adventure of all time” (Associated Press).

The future is here…in an adventure of cosmic dimension. When a signal is discovered that seems to come from far beyond our solar system, a multinational team of scientists decides to find the source. What follows is an eye-opening journey out to the stars to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who—or what—is out there? Why are they watching us? And what do they want with us?

One of the best science fiction novels about communication with extraterrestrial intelligent beings, Contact is a “stunning and satisfying” (Los Angeles Times) classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785787822
Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date: 07/28/1997
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 4.48(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.42(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, and Voyager spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize and the highest awards of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. His book Cosmos was the bestselling science book ever published in the English language, and his bestselling novel, Contact, was turned into a major motion picture.

Read an Excerpt



Transcendental Numbers

Little fly,

Thy summer’s play

My thoughtless hand

Has brushed away.

Am not I

A fly like thee?

Or art not thou

A man like me?

For I dance

And drink and sing,

Till some blind hand

Shall brush my wing.

—WILLIAM BLAKE Songs of Experience “The Fly,” Stanzas 1-3 (1795)

By human standards it could not possibly have been artificial: It was the size of a world. But it was so oddly and intricately shaped, so clearly intended for some complex purpose that it could only have been the expression of an idea. Gliding in polar orbit about the great blue-white star, it resembled some immense, imperfect polyhedron, encrusted with millions of bowl-shaped barnacles. Every bowl was aimed at a particular part of the sky. Every constellation was being attended to. The polyhedral world had been performing its enigmatic function for eons. It was very patient. It could afford to wait forever.

WHEN THEY pulled her out, she was not crying at all. Her tiny brow was wrinkled, and then her eyes grew wide. She looked at the bright lights, the white- and green-clad figures, the woman lying on the table below her. Somehow familiar sounds washed over her. On her face was an odd expression for a newborn—puzzlement perhaps.

•  •  •

When she was two years old, she would lift her hands over her head and say very sweetly, “Dada, up.” His friends expressed surprise. The baby was polite. “It’s not politeness,” her father told them. “She used to scream when she wanted to be picked up. So once I said to her, ‘Ellie, you don’t have to scream. Just say, “Daddy, up.” ’ Kids are smart. Right, Presh?”

So now she was up all right, at a giddy altitude, perched on her father’s shoulders and clutching his thinning hair. Life was better up here, far safer than crawling through a forest of legs. Somebody could step on you down there. You could get lost. She tightened her grip.

Leaving the monkeys, they turned a corner and came upon a great spindly-legged, long-necked dappled beast with tiny horns on its head. It towered over them. “Their necks are so long, the talk can’t get out,” her father said. She felt sorry for the poor creature, condemned to silence. But she also felt a joy in its existence, a delight that such wonders might be.

•  •  •

“Go ahead, Ellie,” her mother gently urged her. There was a lilt in the familiar voice. “Read it.” Her mother’s sister had not believed that Ellie, age three, could read. The nursery stories, the aunt was convinced, had been memorized. Now they were strolling down State Street on a brisk March day and had stopped before a store window. Inside, a burgundy-red stone was glistening in the sunlight. “Jeweler,” Ellie read slowly, pronouncing three syllables.

•  •  •

Guiltily, she let herself into the spare room. The old Motorola radio was on the shelf where she remembered it. It was very big and heavy and, hugging it to her chest, she almost dropped it. On the back were the words “Danger. Do Not Remove.” But she knew that if it wasn’t plugged in, there was no danger in it. With her tongue between her lips, she removed the screws and exposed the innards. As she had suspected, there were no tiny orchestras and miniature announcers quietly living out their small lives in anticipation of the moment when the toggle switch would be clicked to “on.” Instead there were beautiful glass tubes, a little like light bulbs. Some resembled the churches of Moscow she had seen pictured in a book. The prongs at their bases were perfectly designed for the receptacles they were fitted into. With the back off and the switch “on,” she plugged the set into a nearby wall socket. If she didn’t touch it, if she went nowhere near it, how could it hurt her?

After a few moments, tubes began to glow warmly, but no sound came. The radio was “broken,” and had been retired some years before in favor of a more modern variety. One tube was not glowing. She unplugged the set and pried the uncooperative tube out of its receptacle. There was a metallic square inside, attached to tiny wires. The electricity runs along the wires, she thought vaguely. But first it has to get into the tube. One of the prongs seemed bent, and she was able after a little work to straighten it. Reinserting the tube and plugging the set in again, she was delighted to see it begin to glow, and an ocean of static arose around her. Glancing toward the closed door with a start, she lowered the volume. She turned the dial marked “frequency,” and came upon a voice talking excitedly—as far as she could understand, about a Russian machine that was in the sky, endlessly circling the Earth. Endlessly, she thought. She turned the dial again, seeking other stations. After a while, fearful of being discovered, she unplugged the set, screwed the back on loosely, and with still more difficulty lifted the radio and placed it back on the shelf.

As she left the spare room, a little out of breath, her mother came upon her and she started once more.

“Is everything all right, Ellie?”

“Yes, Mom.”

She affected a casual air, but her heart was beating, her palms were sweating. She settled down in a favorite spot in the small backyard and, her knees drawn up to her chin, thought about the inside of the radio. Are all those tubes really necessary? What would happen if you removed them one at a time? Her father had once called them vacuum tubes. What was happening inside a vacuum tube? Was there really no air in there? How did the music of the orchestras and the voices of the announcers get in the radio? They liked to say, “On the air.” Was radio carried by the air? What happens inside the radio set when you change stations? What was “frequency”? Why do you have to plug it in for it to work? Could you make a kind of map showing how the electricity runs through the radio? Could you take it apart without hurting yourself? Could you put it back together again?

“Ellie, what have you been up to?” asked her mother, walking by with laundry for the clothesline.

“Nothing, Mom. Just thinking.”

•  •  •

In her tenth summer, she was taken on vacation to visit two cousins she detested at a cluster of cabins along a lake in the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. Why people who lived on a lake in Wisconsin would spend five hours driving all the way to a lake in Michigan was beyond her. Especially to see two mean and babyish boys. Only ten and eleven. Real jerks. How could her father, so sensitive to her in other respects, want her to play day in and day out with twerps? She spent the summer avoiding them.

One sultry moonless night after dinner she walked down alone to the wooden pier. A motorboat had just gone by, and her uncle’s rowboat tethered to the dock was softly bobbing in the starlit water. Apart from distant cicadas and an almost subliminal shout echoing across the lake, it was perfectly still. She looked up at the brilliant spangled sky and found her heart racing.

Without looking down, with only her outstretched hand to guide her, she found a soft patch of grass and laid herself down. The sky was blazing with stars. There were thousands of them, most twinkling, a few bright and steady. If you looked carefully you could see faint differences in color. That bright one there, wasn’t it bluish?

She felt again for the ground beneath her; it was solid, steady . . . reassuring. Cautiously she sat up and looked left and right, up and down the long reach of lakefront. She could see both sides of the water. The world only looks flat, she thought to herself. Really it’s round. This is all a big ball . . . turning in the middle of the sky . . . once a day. She tried to imagine it spinning, with millions of people glued to it, talking different languages, wearing funny clothes, all stuck to the same ball.

She stretched out again and tried to sense the spin. Maybe she could feel it just a little. Across the lake, a bright star was twinkling between the topmost branches. If you squinted your eyes you could make rays of light dance out of it. Squint a little more, and the rays would obediently change their length and shape. Was she just imagining it, or . . . the star was now definitely above the trees. Just a few minutes ago it had been poking in and out of the branches. Now it was higher, no doubt about it. That’s what they meant when they said a star was rising, she told herself. The Earth was turning in the other direction. At one end of the sky the stars were rising. That way was called East. At the other end of the sky, behind her, beyond the cabins, the stars were setting. That way was called West. Once every day the Earth would spin completely around, and the same stars would rise again in the same place.

But if something as big as the Earth turned once a day, it had to be moving ridiculously fast. Everyone she knew must be whirling at an unbelievable speed. She thought she could now actually feel the Earth turn—not just imagine it in her head, but really feel it in the pit of her stomach. It was like descending in a fast elevator. She craned her neck back further, so her field of view was uncontaminated by anything on Earth, until she could see nothing but black sky and bright stars. Gratifyingly, she was overtaken by the giddy sense that she had better clutch the clumps of grass on either side of her and hold on for dear life, or else fall up into the sky, her tiny tumbling body dwarfed by the huge darkened sphere below.

She actually cried out before she managed to stifle the scream with her wrist. That was how her cousins were able to find her. Scrambling down the slope, they discovered on her face an uncommon mix of embarrassment and surprise, which they readily assimilated, eager to find some small indiscretion to carry back and offer to her parents.

•  •  •

The book was better than the movie. For one thing, there was a lot more in it. And some of the pictures were awfully different from the movie. But in both, Pinocchio—a life-sized wooden boy who magically is roused to life—wore a kind of halter, and there seemed to be dowels in his joints. When Geppetto is just finishing the construction of Pinocchio, he turns his back on the puppet and is promptly sent flying by a well-placed kick. At that instant the carpenter’s friend arrives and asks him what he is doing sprawled on the floor. “I am teaching,” Geppetto replies with dignity, “the alphabet to the ants.”

This seemed to Ellie extremely witty, and she delighted in recounting it to her friends. But each time she quoted it there was an unspoken question lingering at the edge of her consciousness: Could you teach the alphabet to the ants? And would you want to? Down there with hundreds of scurrying insects who might crawl all over your skin, or even sting you? What could ants know, anyway?

•  •  •

Sometimes she would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and find her father there in his pajama bottoms, his neck craned up, a kind of patrician disdain accompanying the shaving cream on his upper lip. “Hi, Presh,” he would say. It was short for “precious,” and she loved him to call her that. Why was he shaving at night, when no one would know if he had a beard? “Because”—he smiled—“your mother will know.” Years later, she discovered that she had understood this cheerful remark only incompletely. Her parents had been in love.

•  •  •

After school, she had ridden her bicycle to a little park on the lake. From a saddlebag she produced The Radio Amateur’s Handbook and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. After a moment’s consideration, she decided on the latter. Twain’s hero had been conked on the head and awakened in Arthurian England. Maybe it was all a dream or a delusion. But maybe it was real. Was it possible to travel backwards in time? Her chin on her knees, she scouted for a favorite passage. It was when Twain’s hero is first collected by a man dressed in armor who he takes to be an escapee from a local booby hatch. As they reach the crest of the hill they see a city laid out before them:

“ ‘Bridgeport?’ said I . . .

“ ‘Camelot,’ said he.”

She stared out into the blue lake, trying to imagine a city which could pass as both nineteenth-century Bridgeport and sixth-century Camelot, when her mother rushed up to her.

“I’ve looked for you everywhere. Why aren’t you where I can find you? Oh, Ellie,” she whispered, “something awful’s happened.”

•  •  •

In the seventh grade they were studying “pi.” It was a Greek letter that looked like the architecture at Stonehenge, in England: two vertical pillars with a crossbar at top—π. If you measured the circumference of a circle and then divided it by the diameter of the circle, that was pi. At home, Ellie took the top of a mayonnaise jar, wrapped a string around it, straightened the string out, and with a ruler measured the circle’s circumference. She did the same with the diameter, and by long division divided the one number by the other. She got 3.21. That seemed simple enough.

The next day the teacher, Mr. Weisbrod, said that π was about 22/7, about 3.1416. But actually, if you wanted to be exact, it was a decimal that went on and on forever without repeating the pattern of numbers. Forever, Ellie thought. She raised her hand. It was the beginning of the school year and she had not asked any questions in this class.

“How could anybody know that the decimals go on and on forever?”

“That’s just the way it is,” said the teacher with some asperity.

“But why? How do you know? How can you count decimals forever?”

“Miss Arroway”—he was consulting his class list—“this is a stupid question. You’re wasting the class’s time.”

No one had ever called Ellie stupid before, and she found herself bursting into tears. Billy Horstman, who sat next to her, gently reached out and placed his hand over hers. His father had recently been indicted for tampering with the odometers on the used cars he sold, so Billy was sensitive to public humiliation. Ellie ran out of the class sobbing.

After school she bicycled to the library at the nearby college to look through books on mathematics. As nearly as she could figure out from what she read, her question wasn’t all that stupid. According to the Bible, the ancient Hebrews had apparently thought that π was exactly equal to three. The Greeks and Romans, who knew lots of things about mathematics, had no idea that the digits in π went on forever without repeating. It was a fact that had been discovered only about 250 years ago. How was she expected to know if she couldn’t ask questions? But Mr. Weisbrod had been right about the first few digits. Pi wasn’t 3.21. Maybe the mayonnaise lid had been a little squashed, not a perfect circle. Or maybe she’d been sloppy in measuring the string. Even if she’d been much more careful, though, they couldn’t expect her to measure an infinite number of decimals.

There was another possibility, though. You could calculate pi as accurately as you wanted. If you knew something called calculus, you could prove formulas for π that would let you calculate it to as many decimals as you had time for. The book listed formulas for pi divided by four. Some of them she couldn’t understand at all. But there were some that dazzled her: π/4, the book said, was the same as 1 – 1/3 + 1/5 – 1/7 + . . ., with the fractions continuing on forever. Quickly she tried to work it out, adding and subtracting the fractions alternately. The sum would bounce from being bigger than π/4 to being smaller than π/4, but after a while you could see that this series of numbers was on a beeline for the right answer. You could never get there exactly, but you could get as close as you wanted if you were very patient. It seemed to her a miracle that the shape of every circle in the world was connected with this series of fractions. How could circles know about fractions? She was determined to learn calculus.

The book said something else: π was called a “transcendental” number. There was no equation with ordinary numbers in it that could give you π unless it was infinitely long. She had already taught herself a little algebra and understood what this meant. And π wasn’t the only transcendental number. In fact there was an infinity of transcendental numbers. More than that, there were infinitely more transcendental numbers than ordinary numbers, even though π was the only one of them she had ever heard of. In more ways than one, π was tied to infinity.

She had caught a glimpse of something majestic. Hiding between all the ordinary numbers was an infinity of transcendental numbers whose presence you would never have guessed unless you looked deeply into mathematics. Every now and then one of them, like π, would pop up unexpectedly in everyday life. But most of them—an infinite number of them, she reminded herself—were hiding, minding their own business, almost certainly unglimpsed by the irritable Mr. Weisbrod.

•  •  •

She saw through John Staughton from the first. How her mother could even contemplate marrying him—never mind that it was only two years after her father’s death—was an impenetrable mystery. He was nice enough looking, and he could pretend, when he put his mind to it, that he really cared about you. But he was a martinet. He made his students come over weekends to weed and garden at the new house they had moved into, and then made fun of them after they left. He told Ellie that she was just beginning high school and was not to look twice at any of his bright young men. He was puffed up with imaginary self-importance. She was sure that as a professor he secretly despised her dead father, who had been only a shopkeeper. Staughton had made it clear that an interest in radio and electronics was unseemly for a girl, that it would not catch her a husband, that understanding physics was for her a foolish and aberrational notion. “Pretentious,” he called it. She just didn’t have the ability. This was an objective fact that she might as well get used to. He was telling her this for her own good. She’d thank him for it in later life. He was, after all, an associate professor of physics. He knew what it took. These homilies would always infuriate her, even though she had never before—despite Staughton’s refusal to believe it—considered a career in science.

He was not a gentle man, as her father had been, and he had no idea what a sense of humor was. When anyone assumed that she was Staughton’s daughter, she would be outraged. Her mother and stepfather never suggested that she change her name to Staughton; they knew what her response would be.

Occasionally there was a little warmth in the man, as when, in her hospital room just after her tonsillectomy, he had brought her a splendid kaleidoscope.

“When are they going to do the operation,” she had asked, a little sleepily.

“They’ve already done it,” Staughton had answered. “You’re going to be fine.” She found it disquieting that whole blocks of time could be stolen without her knowledge, and blamed him. She knew at the time it was childish.

That her mother could truly love him was inconceivable. She must have remarried out of loneliness, out of weakness. She needed someone to take care of her. Ellie vowed she would never accept a position of dependence. Ellie’s father had died, her mother had grown distant, and Ellie felt herself exiled to the house of a tyrant. There was no one to call her Presh anymore.

She longed to escape.

“ ‘Bridgeport?’ said I.

“ ‘Camelot,’ said he.”

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Contact 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was astounded when I first watched 'Contact' the movie starring Jodi Foster. I then decided to read the novel by Carl Sagan. I was hooked...this was something I couldn't put down for quite some time. I absolutely was enthralled by Sagan's balance of love, astronomy, religion, and everything else imaginable. I was fascinated by Ellie Arroway, the main character and heroine. She was absolutely brilliant, courageous, and everything else an admirable astronomer should be. She held her head high in the face of opposition and broke through all obstacles facing her way. I cried, laughed, applauded, screamed, thought long and hard about universal possibilities, religous questions, and wanted more and more with the turn of each page. I appreciate this book almost more than any other I've read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If there is one book that I had to pick as my favorite, this would be it. While it may give a lot of scientific detail, Sagan portays the work with great style and tact. His story centers around a scientificly spun story with true moral and intellectual implications that delve into the heart of the human soul. In the book issues such as the roles of politics in science, religion, love, humanity, etc. are discussed and opened up to the reader. If you have to read a book for the summer, or a break, this should be it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's an engaging work of fiction that show a possible path for the unification of science and religion. The truth may be closer than many believe.
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The film: ignore it. You're best off doing so right from the start. Theories abound as to why it was so bad, and here's mine: Sagan passed away early in its production, and in his stead rose his wife Ann Druyan; now, this is pure speculation but one has to wonder if she didn't decide to lessen the atheistic tendencies of the book in favour of a more mainstream, and perhaps forgiving, audience.The book itself is captivating, and follows much the same theme as the film - aliens make contact with Earth. Ellie Arroway, a brilliant young scientist, works to decode their message, and to make first contact. That we all know.But what I liked most about the Sagan book is the cold reality of what contact means, about the growth industries that would appear to take advantage of alien technology, about the cultural shifts that would take place; this is, inevitably, ignored on celluloid, but is part of what makes the novel so compelling.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first impression of Contact was the horrible motion picture released all those years ago, and it took me until recently to pick up a copy and actually get around to reading it.Now, since I saw the film, I had learned more and more about Sagan, and how he was actually a bright fellow, so I decided to give him a chance by reading Contact, and I have to say that I did not regret my decision.Like any book that was later adapted for the silver screen, they are liable to alter or remove very vital pieces, or change them for pacing or whatever other things they do to make the movies less than enjoyable. Maybe the film producers are in a way trying to promote literacy, and are thus making horrid movies so you go out an read the original source material, and be glad that you did. Or maybe the mindset that the movie is never as good as the book is less a trend and more a physical law of nature, and these movie makers are helpless to make anything better than the book. These theories would effectively forgive abominations such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (later novelized by the topmost fanfic-er, Kevin J. Anderson. Congrats, you can write a book based on a movie based on a comic book. You want a cookie? What next? Causing an established Sci-Fi writer or two to spin in their graves as you desecrate their magnum opera?), but I digress.Contact, the book, is a great book. It's always interesting to read books written by professional scientists (I have a few), as it lends an air of credibility and believability to the story, versus soft sci-fi tales that are essentially fantasy stories in space. Sagan, however, does not hard sci-fi it up (at least, not to the point that writers like Alastair Reynolds do), so it could actually be enjoyed by people not familiar with quantum physics, or even grade school physics.The story tells a tale of Ellie Arroway, and shows her transition from girl to woman in the first part of the book. Here we learn how Arroway excels at what she does when she puts her mind to it, eventually becoming anything from a slight annoyance to a thorn in the sides of the male physics majors. This she does all while dealing with her horrid physics professor of a step father who discourages her every chance he gets.She excels, and grabs a post at a radio telescope lab where she monitors the heavens for any extraterrestrial signs of life. Then, it happens, and its not a hoax. A transmission seems to come from Vega, and it's too constructed to seem like static. It starts as prime numbers, but beyond that, another layer is discovered in the transmission. Reading layer after layer into the transmission, they discover step-by-step instructions on building a machine, but what the machine does is beyond their understanding.The world must then come together to decided if the machine will be built, where it will be built, and who the five people aboard it will be.This is a great novel, and is bound to be enjoyed by any fan of Sagan's other work (though I suspect for many that Contact provides the gateway to other Sagan works, not vice-versa), and is sure to be enjoyed by most sci-fi readers, particularly those that like a realistic story with sci-fi elements than a plotless journey through an alien wonderland by an avid sportsman with a really big laser gun.
rbtwinky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. What isn¿t there to like: strong female protagonist, sci-fi theory, real-world projection, and even a love story. Sagan wove the story incredibly well into a near future setting, giving the fiction an imminent truth. I also enjoyed that he didn¿t shy away from reflecting the impact of the ¿contact¿ on society.
mobill76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the book first. It's very different from the movie. I like both. I think the movie took a lot of liberties with Sagan's vision that certainly pissed off the purists. Readers of the book will not find the same sympathy for faith that was exhibited in the movie. The book is a tour de force of science over religion. It's a good story. Sagan's writing shows a definite ivory tower disconnection with what passes for believable social situations. But the story is compelling enough to drag you through these. If you didn't enjoy the movie, you may be interested in the atheistic theme presented in the book. If you did enjoy the movie, you should read the book to hear what Sagan was really trying to say. You'll appreciate the genius of the filmmaker even more that he was able to turn Contact into a statement of faith.
lauawill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read this book when I was sixteen years old. I re-read it every few years and discover something new and beautiful about it each time. It's one of a handful of books I can point to and honestly say, "This book had a lot to do with who I am today."
Dadbrazelton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much better than the movie.
dandelionroots on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Earth receives a message from the star Vega detailing how to build a machine. I appreciated the way he portrayed humanity's reaction to an extraterrestrial message - scientifically, religiously, nationally, commercially. The book largely centers around the personal story of Ellie, the director at Argus (the array of radio telescopes searching for extraterrestrial intelligence), but her story didn't really intrigue me. The overall message for the cosmos was... anti-climatic. Really, we're back to humanity's earliest attempts at explaining the world around us? All you need is love.
ChristopherTurner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The movie and the novel aer both enjouable for different reasons, though the basic storyline is one that will always make me feel that the author actually gets that I want to be challenged and that I dont need to see what teh alien culture looks like in order to accept them as real characters in the story. I also liked the fact that the politics of science was dealt with in way that didn't hide from the fact that discoveries of greater truths often have their work stloen from them by the very people than ran their work down. Just try getting a grant to fund your research - it is soul destroying!
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an awesome book. I had seen the movie of course and thought the book would be the same, it was in the basic content of the novel, but different enough to enjoy for entirely different reasons. I skipped over most of the science as it was completely over my head and I didn't know how much of it was made up anyway just to continue the story. The characters are well done, the conversations concerning religion, alien contact and nationalism are well thought out and clever.6-2010
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great exploration of the divide between science and religion and where skepticism falls on the spectrum. Interesting story of Earth's first contact with off-planet lifeforms.
maunder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Books about contact with extra-terrestrials are adime a dozen however what makes this one worth the read is the fact that a scientist of significance (Carl Sagan) has written it. The plot started aittle slowly however his description of how the world might react to a message from space and what action it might take is quite interesting. I haven't seen the movie however I enjoyed the bokk immensely.
kthclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story really makes you think of what would you do if you discover a signal from space. I enjoyed this book and there was also a movie based on it starring Jodie Foster. I¿m sure many more people have watched the movie rather than reading the book but I suggest that everyone should give the book a try. The book is very captivating and the movie does follow very close to the book.
boweraj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite SF novel. Sagan proves he can captivate the public not only with his non-fiction, but also with his fiction. Amazing story.
saskreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carl Sagan has interesting things to tell us, but he best not in a fiction format.
saravanants on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have found this book as unique as any other. This one of the books that I would love to the end of my life. Carl is a genious. Especially in his unique approach to visualizing the aliens in such a manner as no other book I have read so far. Most of the authors see aliens as similar to humans with advanced capabilities or with some hideous looking creature from outer space. Carl is totally unique in that matter.
steveforbertfan More than 1 year ago
I was quite disappointed in this book, started out amazing, then it just bogged down with a lot of techie, sciency stuff. The characters got lost in the very technical story, there was really no build up as to the excitement of the Message, and the Machine...well, it was almost a side story getting lost in all the droning on and on and on. A great disappointment.
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What1 More than 1 year ago
As is often the case, the book is much better than the movie. There were enough differences, some significant, between the two to keep the story fresh. Sagan did a beautiful job overall but I felt the science vs. religion debate was just beat to death. I know it played a significant part in the main character's development but come on, we get it already. The story itself definitley gives you the sense that there is so much more to the universe than the small rock we're standing on. I felt humbled by the thought. We (humans) were almost childlike in "their" eyes. It was like they were teaching us to walk. At some point they may teach us how to run. Great book overall.
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MarcusWench More than 1 year ago
I was very surprised to find the science spokesperson wrote a piece of fiction with such human tenderness and sense of wonder, as well as being very interesting for the science and philosophy explored. I really identified with the numinous wonder of a child growing up and exploring the unknown. The book was better than the movie, in my opinion.