Contact is a 1985 science fiction novel by American scientist Carl Sagan. It deals with the theme of contact between humanity and a more technologically advanced, extraterrestrial life form. It ranked No. 7 on the 1985 U.S. bestseller list. The novel originated as a screenplay by Sagan and Ann Druyan (whom he later married) in 1979; when development of the film stalled, Sagan decided to convert the stalled film into a novel. The film concept was subsequently revived and eventually released in 1997 as the film Contact starring Jodie Foster.
Cover of the first edition
|Publisher||Simon and Schuster|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|LC Class||PS3569.A287 C6 1985|
As a child, Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway displays a strong aptitude for science and mathematics. Dissatisfied with a school lesson, she goes to the library to convince herself that π is irrational. In sixth grade her father and role-model Theodore ("Ted") dies. A man named John Staughton becomes her stepfather and does not show as much support for her interests. Ellie refuses to accept him as a family member and concludes that her mother only remarried out of weakness.
After graduating from Harvard University, Ellie receives a doctorate from Caltech supervised by David Drumlin, a well known radio astronomer. She eventually becomes the director of "Project Argus", a radiotelescope array in New Mexico dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). This puts her at odds with most of the scientific community, including Drumlin, who tries to have the funding to SETI cut off. To his surprise, the project discovers a signal containing a series of prime numbers coming from the Vega system 26 light years away. Further analysis reveals information in the polarization modulation of the signal. This message is a retransmission of Adolf Hitler's opening speech at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin; the first television signal powerful enough to escape Earth's ionosphere.
The President of the United States meets with Ellie to discuss the implications of the first confirmed communication from extraterrestrial beings. Ellie begins a relationship with Presidential Science Advisor Ken der Heer. With the help of her Soviet colleague Vaygay Lunacharsky, Ellie is able to set up redundant monitoring of the signal so that a telescope remains pointed at Vega at all times. A third message is discovered describing plans for an advanced machine. With no way of decoding the 30,000 pages, SETI scientists surmise that there must be a primer that they have missed.
At the President's insistence, Ellie agrees to meet with two religious leaders, Billy Jo Rankin and Palmer Joss. A lifelong religious skeptic, Ellie tries to convince Joss of her faith in science by standing near a heavy Foucault pendulum and trusting that its amplitude will not increase. Although dismissing Rankin's outbursts, Ellie is intrigued by Joss' worldview. Shortly after, Ellie travels to Paris to discuss the machine with a newly formed consortium. The participants reach a consensus that the machine is a dodecahedron shaped vehicle with five seats. At the conference, Ellie meets Devi Sukhavati, a doctor who left India to marry the man she loved, only to lose him to illness a year later. The final piece of the message is discovered when S. R. Hadden, a billionaire in multiple high-tech industries with an obsessive personal interest in the concept of immortality, suggests that Ellie check for phase modulation. This reveals the primer, thus allowing construction of the machine to begin.
The American and Soviet governments enter a race to construct identical copies of the machine. As errors in the Soviet project are discovered, the American machine becomes the only option. Ellie applies to be one of the five passengers but her spot is given to David Drumlin instead. Despite heavy security, a group of extremists is able to get a bomb into one of the fabrication plants in Wyoming. During a visit by three astronomers, the bomb explodes, killing Drumlin and postponing completion of the machine indefinitely. Ellie's family also suffers when her mother has a stroke which causes paralysis. John Staughton accuses Ellie of ignoring her own mother for years.
Ellie learns that S. R. Hadden has taken up residence aboard a private space station. While on board, he reveals that his company has been covertly building a third copy of the machine in Hokkaido, Japan. The activation date is set for December 31, 1999 and Ellie, Vaygay and Devi are given three of the spots. The other two are given to Abonnema Eda, a Nigerian physicist credited with discovering the theory of everything and Xi Qiaomu, a Chinese archaeologist and expert on the Qin dynasty. The five board the machine thinking that the extraterrestrials will either give them an additional task or cancel the transmission from Vega so that the signal only lasts for another 26 years.
Once activated, the dodecahedron transports the group through a series of wormholes to a massive station near the center of the Milky Way. The station contains a surreal Earth-like beach where the five are split up. Ellie meets an extraterrestrial in a form indistinguishable from Ted Arroway, who explains his people's reasons for making contact, and tells her of their ongoing project to alter the properties of the universe by accumulating enough mass in Cygnus A to counter the effects of entropy. He also tells her that the wormhole system was built by unknown precursors, and hints at the discovery of artificial messages in transcendental numbers like π. Ellie is reunited with the other four travellers who have also met simulations of their loved ones. She captures video evidence of the encounter before the dodecahedron takes them back to Earth.
Upon returning, the passengers discover that what seemed like many hours took no time at all from Earth's perspective. They also find that all of their video footage has been erased, presumably by magnetic fields in the wormholes. After seeing that Hadden is apparently dead and that the transmission has somehow been stopped without a 26 year delay, government officials accuse the travellers of an international conspiracy. They blackmail Ellie and her fellow travellers into silence until more evidence can be found. Palmer Joss becomes one of the few people willing to believe her story that she can only justify on faith.
Acting on the suggestion of "Ted", Ellie works on a program to compute the digits of π to heretofore-unprecedented lengths. Ellie's mother dies before this project delivers its first result. A final letter from her informs Ellie that John Staughton, not Ted Arroway, is Ellie's biological father. When Ellie looks at what the computer has found, she sees a circle rasterized from 0s and 1s that appear after 1020 places in the base 11 representation of π. This not only provides evidence of her journey, but suggests that intelligence is behind the universe itself.
Reading science fiction and fantasy as a child caused Carl Sagan to become an astronomer. As an adult he preferred realistic stories that helped readers understand real science and history, like Robert Heinlein's "—And He Built a Crooked House—" and L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall. In 1978 Sagan predicted that because of science fiction, "I know many young people who would, of course, be interested, but in no way astounded, were we to receive a message tomorrow from an extraterrestrial civilization". In 1981, Simon & Schuster gave Sagan a $2 million advance on the novel. At the time, "the advance was the largest ever made for a book that had not yet been written." The first printing was 265,000 copies. In the first two years it sold 1,700,000 copies. It was a main selection of Book-of-the-Month-Club.
The novel won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1986.
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Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer.Moon in fiction
The Moon has been the subject of many works of art and literature and the inspiration for countless others. It is a motif in the visual arts, the performing arts, poetry, prose and music.Phylogenesis (novel)
Phylogenesis (1999) is a science fiction novel by American writer Alan Dean Foster. It is the first novel in Foster's Founding of the Commonwealth Trilogy.
In Phylogenesis Foster begins to further expand the history of the founding of the Humanx Commonwealth which began in his 1982 novel Nor Crystal Tears. While Nor Crystal Tears was a first contact novel between human and thranx, and set the foundation for the eventual Humanx Commonwealth, starting with Phylogenesis, Foster's trilogy set out to detail the events that led to the union between the two races.Point of Contact (novel)
Point of Contact (stylized as Tom Clancy Point of Contact, Tom Clancy: Point of Contact or Tom Clancy's Point of Contact in the United Kingdom) is a techno-thriller novel, written by Mike Maden and released on June 13, 2017. Set in the Tom Clancy universe, the novel depicts Jack Ryan Jr. as he helps avert a North Korean plot to crash the Asian stock market, along with his Hendley Associates colleague Paul Brown, in Singapore. Point of Contact marks Maden’s debut as the sole author of the Jack Ryan Jr. novels, succeeding Grant Blackwood. It debuted at number 3 on the New York Times bestseller list.Steven Erikson
Steven Erikson (born October 7, 1959) is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin, a Canadian novelist, who was educated and trained as both an archaeologist and anthropologist.
He is best known for his ten-volume spanning epic fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen, which began with the publication of Gardens of the Moon (1999) and was completed with the publication of The Crippled God (2011). By 2012 over 1 million copies of the series had been sold worldwide, and over 3 million copies by 2018. SF Site has called the series "the most significant work of epic fantasy since Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant," and Fantasy Book Review described it as "the best fantasy series of recent times." Fellow author Glen Cook has called the series a masterwork, while Stephen R. Donaldson has praised him for his approach to the fantasy genre and has compared him to the likes of Joseph Conrad, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Set in the Malazan world, Erikson has written a prequel trilogy, The Kharkanas Trilogy, six novellas, and is currently working on a sequel trilogy, The Witness Trilogy, the first book of which, titled The God is Not Willing, is expected to be published in 2019.
His foray into Science Fiction has produced a comedic trilogy, the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek and other tropes common in the genre, and a First Contact novel titled Rejoice, a Knife To the Heart, published in 2018.