Carl Sagan

Planned initially as a film, then written as a novel, then made into a film after the book’s massive success – Contact is a classic of sci-fi, one of the best-loved, top-ranked, and most-influential books of the genre in the last few decades.

Eleanor (Ellie) Arroway (named for Eleanor Rooselvelt and Francois-Marie Aruoet, aka Voltaire) is involved in a project to send transmissions into space in the hopes of locating and intiating contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. Contact is indeed made, and is followed by an expedition to meet the senders – beings who appear as humans significant to Ellie and her companions, and provide some suggestion as to the existence of a universal creator. On return to earth, though, Ellie and the others do not receive the hero’s welcome or excited congratulations they might expect. For the individuals involved, and for the world as a whole, contact raises more questions than it answers.

A scientist as well as a popular novelist, Sagan’s work on life in the cosmos is significant and far-reaching, and relied upon by university and NASA scientists exploring similar issues. This ain’t just space-adventure; it is serious consideration of the possibiities of extraterrestrial life and the question of contact, and it’s impact extends far beyond the literary to the cutting edge of scientific research.