As I’ve said before, I’m always on the hunt for a good science fiction book to fill that strange void that’s been left by my favorite movies and shows. And so, when I saw Contact by Carl Sagan when browsing one of my 10 for $1 book sales (I’ll miss those), I went ahead and grabbed it.
Contact follows the life of Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer who spends her life looking for some sign that there is life beyond earth. When her radio telescopes finally pick up a transmission coming from the star Vega, she, along with her whole team, are launched into action to decipher the message. Once deciphered, they discover the blueprints to some sort of machine, which they build without knowing what it will do. Ellie is selected as one of the five scientists to crew the machine, for whatever kind of journey it takes. What she finds is that she must now balance science and faith in ways she’s never had to before.
I had such high hopes for this book, but I’ve gotta admit that it fell pretty flat. The book took so long to get going. Though moments of action are sprinkled throughout the book, the majority of it felt like filler, and not even particularly good filler. And I didn’t really care for the science vs. religion theme, even though I know it’s realistic. I will say, it didn’t end up being as prevalent throughout the book as I expected from the beginning.
Perhaps it’s that it has been so long since the book was written that it’s just not revolutionary or fantastic enough, in terms of science fiction. Or maybe I’m just picky even though I don’t quite know what I’m after. All I know is, the book was slow and didn’t grab me the way I expected it to. And as an avid reader of astronomy/astrophysics books (when I get my hands on them), I know it’s not because of the heavy science contained within the book.
What I can say is that Sagan’s writing is clean and comprehensive. I’d be really interested in reading some of his scientific writings. And perhaps if he wrote another novel, I’d find it much more engaging.