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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 15 February 2017
Sagan may have had his critics in the science community, but no one could ever doubt his passion for the subject, or his success in bringing astrophysics, astronomy and cosmology to the wider public interest. He was an imaginative visionary, and in this respect, Contact could be seen as his crowning glory. A certain type of sci-fi fan will hate this novel, but for all the wrong reasons. By avoiding the cliched pitfalls that he could have easily fallen into, Sagan presents a hard SF novel with a fascinating spin on how an alien race might 'manage' first contact with us. Told from the point of view of a very human, warm, yet flawed protagonist, the novel satisfies as a story, dazzles with the science, and is thoroughly readable on every page. Amongst the best novels I have ever come across. Hugely underrated, highly recommended.
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on 11 May 2017
Provoking, well written
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on 5 April 2017
Good, but not as original as I'd hoped it would be.
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on 30 July 2014
This is a really good and well written story that is relevant today as it was 30 years ago.... but... the typesetting and spell-checking is dreadful: it looks as though it has been left to a computer program to format and hasn't been proofread afterwards.
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on 18 September 2014
good but goes on a bit
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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 10 March 2017
I know it's blasphemy to say the film is better than the book, but, jeez..I loved the film so I thought I would check the book out, it was very disappointing.
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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 7 June 2017
I still have my original copy of the book, having this so that I do not have to cart a very old copy around. I read this when it first came out - massive Carl Sagan fan, I can't even remember how many time I had read it when the film came out. Although I love the film to bits, it always lacks something as a book reader first as there are so many differences between the two, - even the machine is different. However, with all the changes made, I still adore the film, and will continue to read the book every couple of years, as once I start, I can never put it down. If reading the book after the film, be prepared, they are not the same, but then things have to change to fit a 2 hour film.
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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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