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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, heart-warming SF novel
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...
Published on 3 Oct 2001 by W. Robinson

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cosmos was better
I'm a huge fan of Carl Sagan, but found this particular foray into fiction the only book of his to be well, a bit boring.

Don't get me wrong, it was really good in places, but for a story it was a little over-technical (ironic from a writer who usually managed to make the most complex and technical things very easy to understand and poetic)

I saw...
Published on 2 Mar 2008 by Hotblack Desiato


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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, heart-warming SF novel, 3 Oct 2001
By 
W. Robinson "Big Bill Robinson" (Slough, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cosmos was better, 2 Mar 2008
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of Carl Sagan, but found this particular foray into fiction the only book of his to be well, a bit boring.

Don't get me wrong, it was really good in places, but for a story it was a little over-technical (ironic from a writer who usually managed to make the most complex and technical things very easy to understand and poetic)

I saw the novel through to the end out of respect to the author (who from his other work I consider one of the greatest thinkers of our time), but have to say, read all of his other books first ('Cosmos' is the best intro to Sagan world in fact) as only a fan will have the loyalty to enjoy this one fully
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most profound and humbling book I have read., 2 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So human, so scientific, 18 Dec 2001
By 
Javier Caselli Fernandez (Malaga, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully written novel, 4 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 30 Nov 2014
By 
Dr. Michael Heron - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
I am a long-time fan of the movie, but hadn't quite gotten around to reading the book. When I started it, I was - as I often am - a little put out of countenance by the differences. However, what emerges from the book is an even richer, even deeper story. The scientific concepts thrown around at first seemed like window-dressing, but eventually emerge as absolutely core to understanding the message, both in and out of text. Carl Sagan was a wonderful communicator, as his Cosmos series, his books and his lectures clearly show. What Contact shows is that he was also a tremendous story-teller - in retrospect, that's not much of a revelation as all his work is inherently the act of telling stories about the universe. His fiction is infused with fact, but his ability to do that with such seamless elegance is a rare talent.

I was also deeply impressed by Sagan's explorations of the issue of faith. I consider Carl Sagan to have been one of the pre-eminent atheistic philosophers of the age, and as such I wouldn't have expected his discussion of faith to be so rounded and so inclusive. He always did have the ability, far beyond those of raving loons like Dawkins, to offer a cogent and respectful deconstruction of theism without being spiteful or dismissive - I'd say Contact though shows that he did have a spiritual side that was more, not less, inspiring with the removal of God from the equation.

I won't go so far as to say that, despite my initial suspicion, the book is better than the movie. I will say though that they tell two very different stories - connected in some key players and events, but otherwise radically different in both tone and implication. You can enjoy one without the other, but as with the lessons of scientific co-operation across the world in the book it's better to consider the tale from two perspectives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to take a ride? - A space flight of the mind!, 18 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
"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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, boring book, 19 May 2010
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This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
Carl Sagan is one of those people whose legacy seems untouchable. From the Pale Blue Dot and his work with NASA to the groundbreaking and essential TV series Cosmos you'll never hear a bad word spoken about him. He's one of those people who just makes you damn proud to be human. I cracked through the box set of Cosmos in under a week and was eager for more. I was excited by the prospect of Sagan having a whole novel to stretch out his ideas and was curious about how the passion and intelligence he displayed on screen would translate to the page.

What a shame then that this book is such a crushing bore! Massive theme's, breathtaking consequences. A protagonist vindicated before the whole world and realising a life's dream; contact with beings from another world! Do we sense any of this? I'm sorry but I didn't. The enthusiasm evident in Sagan's TV programs is all but absent from his prose. The writing is so dry, academic and thuddingly dull. There's just no personality or style to it. I wasn't expecting loads of laughs or anything but this book is as close to being amusing as we are to a faint star in a distant galaxy. Characters still need to be human, not machines for the pursuit of science or puppets to espouse the authors theories on Religion and politics. Dr Arroway, our protagonist, is given an injection of excitement and personality when she reveals that she is pretty liberated sexually. Not that she is given a chance to persue her penchant for experimentation; it forms no part of the plot and her only love interest is a lukewarm affair which peters out weakly. Really, her liking sex has more to do with Sagan's ideas on Feminism than it does to her character. Similarly we are presented with two religious characters, one closed minded and fundamentalist, the other open minded, giving Arroway (an Atheist) a chance to argue with both faces of religious intuitionalism. Can you guess who comes out on top? The shame is that as a respected scientist and thinker Sagan does have great idea's on a wide range of subjects but the whole book smacks more of a thought experiment than it does a novel. I have to say if it wasn't for the strength of the ideas and my respect for the man I'd have given up a long way before the finish. My curiosity did win out, and I really wanted to read Sagan's vision for first contact between Humans and an Alien race. The result is believable and fairly spectacular, or at least it would be if, like the rest of the book, the life wasn't drained out of it by the dull characters and duller writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book., 24 July 2000
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars something is out there..., 15 Sep 2002
This review is from: Contact (Hardcover)
for those of you unfamiliar with carl sagan, this novel is good a place to start. perhaps his most expansive novel, it certainly isn't lacking in ambition. hollywood was most interested in its combination of politics, religion and science fiction/fact but the depth of characterisation (it has at least 80 major characters) and complexity of the plot meant that it took almost ten years to reach the screen.
the book follows eleanor arroway from her discovery of extra-terrestrial contact to her journey to another world. it is emotional, exciting, scary and involving . it is, for me, the definitive sagan - rich, intelligent and unforgettable.
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