Carl Sagan was great as a public intellectual in that he could put complex ideas in language that was both accessible and compelling. Contact holds to that. There is a lot of science in it, but Sagan creates relatable characters and uses them to ask deeper questions beyond the technical details.
This is an amazing book. So much information and I can completely see the world reacting the way they did in the book. The technology is of course outdated but the way society is portrayed still holds up (unfortunately.)
The main character is a bit hard to get close to. I think it is painfully obvious that a man wrote the female character. I could tell he wanted to make an intelligent, confident woman but I felt she was a bit hollow and cold. (Until the encounter on the beach).
I watched the movie first and thought it was pretty good. Now I am disappointed in how they changed it. Going from 5 people to one being transported really hurts the story. The book makes much more sense in this.
It's a really great read, and a refreshing challenge. I have been reading below my reading level for a while and it was nice to have something more intellectual and technical to read.
I first saw the Robert Zemeckis film starring Jodie Foster years ago though it wasn't until my fifth or tenth re-watching that I realized how special it was to me. Visually the cinematography is quite striking, but more importantly there's this sense of divine wonder, this agnostic spiritualism, that permeates even though the film is implicitly not religious. Nowadays I cite Contact as one of my all-time favorite movies. And now that I've read Contact, the novel, I can say it's one of my all-time favorites too.
Carl Sagan is a Pulitzer-prize winning author from a scientific standpoint, and with Contact he's writing more as a scientist than a novelist. You can see where he opts for the technical explanation over sentence economy. This strains the prose a bit, but Sagan isn't trying to win you over with dramatic flair. He wants to persuade you of his ideas, of his vision for the future.
If you're a fan of Sagan's miniseries Cosmos, then you're aware of the breathtaking awe he brings to the study of cosmology. And it's not just about what's out there in space, but that we're a part of it too. He advocates for a positive view of mankind where our desire to build a better world is a future reality and not merely a glimmer of hope.
Really nice book, Would reccommend it
I remember reading this when I was in high school and finding it deeply moving and influential. Rereading it ten years later, I found it slow-moving and somewhat pedantic. I think I'll stick to the movie after this. Nevertheless, it's worth a read (just maybe not two).
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