Current Book: Contact by Carl Sagan

Of course happenstance has it that my very first book on the blog is a book that didn’t win either award – but it’s a bestseller in the genre, so we’ll call that close enough.  I remember watching this movie with my parents often as a child and being mesmerized by the visuals and the scientific way it presented the possibility that we are not alone in the galaxy.  As I’ve grown up I’ve read several of Sagan’s non-fiction works, but decided it was high time I revisited this childhood favorite.

Contact was originally written as a screenplay by Carl Sagan and his (later wife) Ann Druyan in the late 1970s, but as production plans fell though – he converted the concept into a novel.  For those of you unfamiliar with Sagan, many of his books are worth the investment – and if visuals are more your thing, he’s the guy who voices “Cosmos” (and also offers an excellent podcast).

As of yet, I’m only 60 pages in and we’re just now setting up the big reveal of the message.  Ellie as presented in the novel is quite likable; sometimes in this genre we don’t always get flushed out independent and intelligent female characters – but Ellie is a real force to be reckoned with, and easy to admire.  The story structure is a bit unique in that each individual “scene” is written separately, then grouped together into chapters.  While this structure doesn’t necessarily interrupt the narrative flow, the episodic nature does take a bit of adjusting (it’s also great for locating stopping points).  I’m really enjoying his employment of (then) accurate scientific findings and tying in of theories, it gives the story a certain credibility and makes it feel more like a case-study rather than a fiction.  I can’t wait to get to the juicy part of her decoding the message.  Update again in 50 pages.


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