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4.3 out of 5 stars59
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2001
This book is proof enough that one of the world's greatest space scientists can also write great SF!
It is a super SF novel, but it's more than that. Throughout the book, Carl Sagan's love and hope for the human race shine through.
Eleanora Arroway, a woman who has known her fair share of bad times in her life, eventually becomes the head of a space center which listens for messages from intelligent extraterrestrials. Against all the odds, a message is discovered and deciphered. Instead of being a message telling us how to create the perfect society, or a religious revelation, it turns out to be a blueprint for a highly-advanced machine.
Do they dare build it? And if they do, what will the machine do? Religious fundamentalists battle with governments and scientists to destroy the project. For the machine, chillingly, is clearly designed to carry a team of people...
If the machine is built, who will ride in it, and where will it take them? You will have to read it to find out!
This book has been made into a movie, but, although it's good, I felt that it did not really do justice to the book. This is one of the finest SF novels I've read - great characters, a gripping plot, high adventure, and to cap it all, a wonderful ending (which is not the same as the movie). An uplifting book which I recommend to one and all. Simply fab!
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on 18 December 2001
This book is simply brilliant,it flowlessly combines science, science fiction, and a deeply moving story. What would happen if an alien civilization much more advanced than us made contact with us? What would they think about us? How would we feel when we knew that we're no so special as we thought, that there are people more intelligent, more advanced and above all, more civilliced than us? Sagan brilliantly played with these questions along the story, wich tells us about the life of Ellie Arroway, the most deeply involved astronomer in the whole affair of finding a message from allien beings, decoding it, and finally make contact. Through Ellie's point of view, we witness the whole story: Team work of scientist around the globe, political affairs (deep criticism of virtually every political system is descreetly included in Ellie's conversations with her coleages), religious affairs, the achievement of the goal, the hipocrisy and cruelty of politicians, and private aspects of Ellie's life as the death of her father, her relation with her mother and stepfather, her love affairs; this may seem beside the point in this story, but, are scientific questions and doubts such as the existence of extra terrestrial intelligence more important than "simple" personal questions and doubts about our lives? Sagan also played brillantly with this question, and when I finished the book, I started to ponder a few things, as the scientific I am, and as the human being I am. As I said, a deeply moving and exciting story.
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on 4 January 2000
I am one of those fortunate readers who came across Carl Sagan's books while I was still a teenager. "Contact" and his other books came at the right time to make a lasting impression, and I depend on them to this day. The novel is brilliantly written: the characterization is flawless, the plot has never a dull moment and I there is a wonderfull attention to a number of details that the plot renders symbolic and bring coherence to the whole. It promises a lot and delivers it! Sagan's scientific thought is present throughout and his predictions are scientifically sound. The book is a lesson on good writing, science and philosophy, and it is Carl Sagan's great achievement that he wrote a science fiction book which will never be made irrelevant by progress, and which is a lot more than a good defence of SETI. It sends a message, enticing in form and content, and I am sure it still becomes every reader's comfort book. I recommend it to everyone, and not only those interested in science. I gratefully honour Carl Sagan's memory and pay my respects to his family.
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on 2 June 2000
Having seen the movie first, and loved it, my expectations were high.
I was not in the least disappointed.
This is a conciousness altering book that provides food for the soul.
Inspiring, deeply moving and full of a wonder that makes you feel young again.
Immediately after finishing Contact I went outside and gazed up at the stars. And smiled.
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on 22 March 2011
Throughout his life, Carl Sagan's proclivity for speculation made many of his colleagues uncomfortable and some of his peers even considered his propensity for indulging his imagination to be irresponsible. In spite of this hostility (or perhaps because of it), Sagan used Contact to give full reign to his imagination. However, whilst Contact is undoubtedly a remarkable work of fiction, it is far from being an example of fantasy run amok and Sagan never betrays the principles and constraints of his discipline, producing an intelligent and compelling discourse on the role of science in society.

It is this self-restraint that is so appealing and marks this book as something very special. Throughout, Sagan never eschews an opportunity to educate his readers or promote science generally and those familiar with his work will be struck by the similarities to his factual writing: remarkably, all that seems to differentiate Sagan's fiction from his non-fiction is a subtle shift in emphasis between speculation and science.

Of course, Contact was not only a vehicle for popularizing science but also an opportunity for Sagan to explore his own attitudes and prejudices through a thinly disguised alter-ego. The book revisits many of his favourite themes: the search for (and discovery of) extraterrestrial intelligence provides the central motif of the novel but Sagan also discusses sexual inequality, the politics of space travel, the dichotomy between religious and scientific outlooks, and the dangers nuclear proliferation. We are also given a fascinating glimpse of Sagan's relationship with his parents and an insight into how hurtful he found some of the criticism of his approach to science. For Sagan, Contact was not simply a work of science fiction, it was a very personal odyssey.

Contact has aged gracefully since its publication in 1985 even if some of its metaphors seem anachronistic to modern readers (for instance, the American/Soviet relationship) and its message remains relevant to this day. Whilst it may lack the excitement of inter-species battles and inter-planetary wars, it is a hopeful and thoughtful novel deserving of the epithet, classic.
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on 18 November 2000
"Contact - A Novel" shows the true imagination together with amazing fact from the mind of the late Carl Sagan. Starting with the inquisitive mind of Eleanor Arroway, who after taking the family radio apart finds her mind asking all kinds of questions. This profound interest takes her from pillar to post in the education world, until she hits upon physics and astronomy. Here her journey begins to the stars. After inventing a ruby maser, she embarks on finding ET by becoming director of Project Argus. After a long time of listening to white noise finds a signal from Vega, a message that would change the view of the cosmos forever. Within the message (a televised Hitler broadcast) are blue prints for a machine, which would transport its passengers (5) to another part of the known universe. Unfortunately a primer is required and without the help of a genius known as Sol Hadden the machine would never be built. The machine until switched on, is not known for what it can and would do, but thought to be a "Trojan Horse" or a planet-destroying bomb. After the plans are constructed the machine is built and put to the test, however it is with much problems of relocation and sabotage. A select committee is formed and the five are chosen. The journey begins, and without leaving planet earth, or so it would seem. An outstanding work brought by one of the most imaginative scientists to grace the planet. A must for all!
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on 15 March 2011
Having seen and loved the film, I decided to read the book and it's since been re-read many times over and is possibly one of my favourite books of all time. This book launched my interest in the SETI project and also in other Carl Sagan books - he's one of my heros! If I remember correctly, I even wrote my physics coursework on the SETI project - this book is that inspiring! Being the only fiction book Carl wrote, it's somewhat easier to follow than his non-fiction but full of science nonetheless. The Science versus Religion argument is a constant factor surrounding the contact with extra-terrestrials and the ending is so ambiguous, it's easy to read whichever side you're on.

I am longing for the day when I can download all of Carl Sagan's books for Kindle so I can re-read them over and over in digital format too! This is one of those books that will change the way you think and you'll not be able to forget about it! To be described as 'thought-provoking' is an understatement!
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I saw the movie and i was amazed.It had great excitement and and an excellent story to it. I got the book and i loved the sense of wonder i got from it about the stars. This really is a great book but see the movie first as although the movie is based on the book it is almost totally different in terms of characters and basically i enjoyed the book more because i saw the movie first.
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on 7 October 2015
Having seen, and thoroughly enjoyed, the film, I looked forward to finally reading
the book. The basics are the same - young lady working with radio telescopes
out in the wilds, eventually picks up messages from outer space.
In time the messages are translated, from which a fantastic machine is built, one
that can transport travellers to the stars.
The book and film have subtle differences, and, in my opinion, the film is a vast
The love interest is with a different person from the book, and the final journey, in
the film, benefits from a sole traveller.
The book fills in much more of the complicated theories and data, and sometimes
leaves you gobsmacked.
But all in all a nice filler to the film.
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on 28 February 2013
World respected scientist Carl Sagan takes us on an adventure of cosmic proportions, the first contact between mankind and aliens. What makes this stand out though is not the aliens, but the story of humanity as it struggles to cope with the possibility that we are not alone.

Set over a period of many years, Contact tells the story in a way that seems believable and in such a scientific manner that at times the novel feels like part textbook, part fiction. An exploration in philosophy, feminism and religion as well as science. Sagan's optimism and hopes for humanity's future shines throughout the book and is a joy to read. His ideas have clearly impacted science fiction ever since showing up in everything from Star Trek to Mass Effect.
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