Scarlett Sims's Reviews > Contact

Contact by Carl Sagan
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Apr 06, 12

bookshelves: audio, leisure, maths, philosophical, religious, science, science-fiction, space
Read from February 03 to April 05, 2012

In my admittedly limited experience, scientists are typically not good writers, which is what made this book all the more astonishing. If I knew nothing about Carl Sagan before reading this book, I would assume he was a novelist by trade, albeit one who had done quite a bit of research on the more scientific aspects of the book. I haven't read too many science fiction books that deal with the "first contact" aspects of alien civilizations, and I certainly haven't read one that deals with the intricacies of such contact. I was amazed at the way he was able to imagine what their message might be like and how we might decode it. He also explores the political ramifications of receiving such a message---really the consequences of receiving a message are a much bigger part of the story than any action that occurs.

I was also impressed with the way he handled some of the philosophical implications--basically, the skeptic must find faith. She knows without a doubt that something has occurred, but has no proof of it. And in the last pages of the novel, we are left with the assumption that the Universe does have an Author.

And perhaps my favorite part of this book was its protagonist, Ellie Arroway. Near the beginning of the novel, he describes her early fascination with mathematics. At this point, I was sold. He did such an amazing job conveying the absolute astonishment when you figure out the way numbers work and fit together. I couldn't put down a book with a girl who likes math!

I would recommend this book to people who like hard sci-fi and/or novels with philosophico-religious connotations. See also: The Sparrow.
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