Contact

By Carl Sagan,

Book cover of Contact

Book description

In December 1999 a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there?


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Why read it?

8 authors picked Contact as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Contact explores the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and humanity's place in the universe. What I loved about Contact is what’s often overlooked in its common description. The contact being made is not only with life beyond Earth but also with those people most dear to us who we’ve loved and lost. This longing to reconnect fits perfectly with the idea of survival, not only for oneself, but for the memories of others.

Sagan's writing is wonderfully descriptive, and he does a masterful job of weaving together science, philosophy, and fiction to create a memorable story. We follow the main character,…

Carl Sagan was a renowned ambassador for science, and his contributions to science were rivalled only by his contributions to science fiction. His novel, Contact, asks us to consider how we would react if we received a real communication from an alien civilization – particularly if it came with a blueprint for how to reach out to them. What kind of dangers come with contacting aliens about whom we know next to nothing, beyond the fact that their technology surpasses our own? This is a time-honoured question, and one which Carl Sagan addresses with a deep insight into human…

A scientist and brilliant astronomer, Carl Sagan was also recognised for his involvement with NASA and the Apollo moon programme. And, perhaps, best known to some for his ‘Pale Blue Dot’ speech, when he referred to the Earth as a small dot, seen by the Voyager 1 space probe at a distance of 5 billion miles away in deep space.

As one of my favourite writers on science and philosophy, Sagan also wrote one of the bestsellers ever conceived about humanity meeting other beings in another universe, aptly named Contact.

I have no doubt, that his scientific works and…

Carl Sagan's PBS series Cosmos influenced my decision to pursue a career in astronomy, but I have always been a science fiction fan. When Sagan released a science fiction novel, I knew I needed it. He doesn't disappoint. He roots his story in the real Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and imagines what could happen if we actually did contact life among the stars and they gave us a way to travel to them. I also love that much of the story is set at the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico, where I worked during my senior year…

Carl Sagan was a planetary scientist I adored in my youth for popularizing science and firmly believing that life exists outside our solar system. Contact, published in 1985, is the one and only novel he wrote in his career. It's a compelling story about what a very realistic first-contact experience might look like if we earthlings were to discover a signal originating from far beyond our solar system. Who could have sent it? And what could they want? Set in contemporary times, and filled with science-loving, nerdy characters, the book struck a chord with a wide swath of readers (not…

I read Carl Sagan’s Contact when I was a young teenager, and it’s stayed with me for more than two decades. It details the dogged efforts of an astronomer obsessed with the question “Are we alone?” and explores what it would be like if she found out the answer was “Nope.” The book was an equal mix of science, story, and thought experiments that got me thinking about some of the biggest and oldest questions humans have asked about the universe.

From Sarah's list on making night sky your new BFF.

The novel is about Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer (played by Jody Foster in the movie of the book), who finds radio signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. They contain instructions to make a vehicle, by which she travels through wormholes to understand the nature of the Universe. The author, planetologist Carl Sagan, based Arroway on Jill Tarter, director of the real-life institute to Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). “Carl Sagan wrote a book about a woman who does what I do, not about me,” explained Tarter. “He did his homework, and thus included many of the ‘character-building’ experiences that are common…

From Paul's list on with fictional female astronomers.

The basic story of Contact may be familiar from the excellent movie starring Jodie Foster, but few people who enjoyed the movie realised that the science in it is based on fact. The idea of tunnels through space linking one part of the Universe to another comes out of the general theory of relativity, and Einstein himself wrote scientific papers on the subject. The science is simple (if you are a relativist), and true, but unfortunately the technology needed to open a “wormhole” large enough to travel through is not so simple!

From John's list on science fiction by scientists.

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