Friday, June 09, 2017

Book Review: 'Contact' by Carl Sagan

Been catching up with some Sci-Fi reads lately, and enjoyed this good yarn by the late great astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan.

The novel follows scientist Ellie Arroway, from her childhood as a young genius, through to adulthood until she becomes director of 'Project Argus' and its radio telescope in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI) when they discover a message seemingly being broadcast from the Vega system.

They try to decode the incoming message and deal with the global implications of discovering such a message. The responses from the various government and religious leaders to the message comes across as all too believable, and not totally unexpected.

Sagan doesn't dazzle the story with too much science making it difficult to follow but his explanations of the astronomy and astrophysics were easy to follow along with, making you learn as you read.

Along with the science, 'Contact' also comes across as a very religious book. Throughout the book, the question of faith, in light of there being life outside of our world, is brought up quite a few times. Ellie in the book seemed to be agnostic in her beliefs, and when she meets with a couple of religious figures, seemed to argue her view convincingly to me. Much to the chagrin of the preachers.

I listened to the audiobook and the narration by Laurel Lefkow is really good, bringing the characters, especially Ellie Arroway, to life.

I've not seen the movie adaptation, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway, so can't compare the two, but overall, 'Contact' is thought provoking and fascinating and well worth picking up.