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Summary

The future is here...in an adventure of cosmic dimension. In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future - and our own.

©1997 Carl Sagan (P)1997 Simon & Schuster

Critic reviews

"Contact deals with issues...worth pondering. The range and depth of ideas is quite uncommon." ( New York Times Book Review)

"Like a good mystery, Contact keeps us curious to the end...ingenious and satisfying." (Newsweek)

What listeners say about Contact

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  • W
  • 29-05-15

Excellent

Would you listen to Contact again? Why?
I would definitely listen to Contact again and not just because it was a brilliant story or because I know I'm going to get more from revisiting it. I spent much of the first listen comparing it to the film but now I've done that, the book will be foremost in my mind and I'll be able to relax with the story.

What other book might you compare Contact to, and why?
I can't think of a direct comparison, but there are elements of The Wizard of Oz and Narnia in there - in a really small way!

Which scene did you most enjoy?
My favourite scene was the debate between Ellie and the 2 pastors on the nature of her belief in science versus theirs in religion. As far as I can tell, belief, faith and respect for each other's views is the heart of the book. I don't know much about Carl Sagan, but I get the sense he didn't believe in absolute certainties and he handles both viewpoints fairly and with an open mind in the book. He leaves you thinking.

Any additional comments?
If you like lots of technical detail and science alongside your philosophical debate, then you'll really enjoy this story. Personally, I tend to focus on the latter, but I didn't find the science overwhelming or overly uninteresting and zoning out on the odd detail didn't detract from what was an excellent book.
First class narration too.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic delivery

The narrator's impeccable reading style brought this great book to life. She breathed and became the characters, creating the illusion of reality, involving the listener in Ellie's experiences.

1 person found this helpful

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  • RJ
  • 07-07-14

Great Contact

If you could sum up Contact in three words, what would they be?

Interesting and very well read.

What did you like best about this story?

The narration and the differences to the film version

What about Laurel Lefkow’s performance did you like?

I thought it was Jodie Foster?

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No

Any additional comments?

Enjoyed

2 people found this helpful

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Truly mind blowing to the last sentences

If you have a curiosity for the possibility of life out there and the fabric of the universe, this is one of the greatest works that is a MUST. In awe to the late, great, Carl Sagan.

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Carl Sagan is the prophet of us atheists

as we say in hindi: bolo Carl baba ki jai! The story of extraterrestrial contact could not have been more intriguing, profound and satisfying. Carl really knew how to spark wonder and inspire!

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fantastic

I am believe I waited so long to listen to this story I've seed the film like 10 times and this is far far better!

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What a pleasant trip!

I'll start with the bad news.
The narration was the only weak link in the entire package.
To be rather fair, it wasn't that it was bad.
No, the narration was good.
Actually, real good.

But, that's the problem.
The story is not just good or real good.
It is eloquent, fluid, brilliant and, above all, truly astounding and exquisite.

It's just that I kept constantly thinking to myself, while listening to this masterpiece, that although the narration was good and enjoyable enough to keep me going, it wasn't up to the level of this book and the scope and spectre of the subject.

No disrespect to Laurel Lefkow, but in my personal opinion, she'd be far more suited to narrate love stories and dramas.

Other than that, this was a magnificent ride.
Despite the fact that I've watched the film (for the 3rd time) recently enough, within the last half year.
And I did enjoy it even more than the last 2 times.
It's not just the mere fact that it is nearly impossible for any other medium to surpass in quality and in joy factor nearly any book.
It's the fact that there was way too much omitted in the movie and by listening to the book I filled in so many gaps that the movie felt like only one third of the whole story.

All in all, this book is a must read.

Will be definitely buying this in hard copy and reading it... With my own narration.

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Ashamed that I waited so long to read this

The film was enjoyable. But this. Such a deep insight into Sagan's character that I was moved to tears.
Little wonder that his other public works are so beguiling, even today.
Listen or read today, especially if you haven't seen the film.

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Nice beginning and end. Shame about the middle

If you cut out the protracted middle section of the book it’s a great novel.

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Insightful

While I’m well aware that this is a fictional story, I’m also very aware that the author is one of the greatest scientific minds and science communicators we’ve ever had. Carl Sagan is a name that is synonymous with anything related to space, he’s the reason we have another one of my idols doing the work he does today - Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Sagan is undoubtedly one of the brightest examples of bringing science and understanding to the masses.

In this book, it’s clear it’s written by someone who knows what he’s talking about. Many concepts are written about with the hope that the reader understands to a certain degree. It doesn’t necessarily go into detail on the topics that arise, but it does touch on them and treat the reader as an equal.

One thing I loved about this book is that it is written in the 80s but many of its themes and predictions are still true today - we learn of some of the struggles of women in science and that topic has been of issue today. The book explores the problematic course of disclosure to the public - what to tell them and how best to tread the line between religion and science. The book dives into the processes and gives a pretty decent behind the scenes look as to what goes into this sort of disclosure from the bottom up.

I especially liked that the book didn’t take a strong America / NASA first attitude. While it is set there in that surrounding, it’s very clear that nationality comes second to the human race. There is a strong unifying outlook in the book.

The ending, I expected something weak from what I’ve read of other reviews, and while it may pander a little to religious people, it is also open to interpretation and ultimately allows the reader to question what a higher power is to them.

I loved that we had a strong but flawed human female characters in a male dominant environment. For a book written in the 80s, Carl Sagan was very realistic (despite some wishful thinking) in now the real world be come the new millennium.

I really enjoyed this book and Laurel Lefkow did an absolutely wonderful job of performing it. She has a wonderful voice for audiobooks and she treats them and the individual characters with care and attention. I admire how she worked with this book and she really shone in the narrator role.

I’d 100% recommend this book for the insight and foresight given from someone ‘in the know’ as it does give some precious insight into how events would unfold, the scientific process and a good healthy dose of skepticism.

If you’re on the fence, give it a go!

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  • Kyle
  • 27-03-17

Great Story with a Few Glitches

I loved the glimpse into how scientific discovery unfolds and the fantasy. Plus, it's really well read. There are a couple glitches though where it jumps ahead randomly. Didn't seem to miss anything major, yet damaged the flow.

100 people found this helpful

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  • Candace
  • 26-02-17

Skipped a little?

Excellent reader. It took a few chapters for her to grow on me, and then I looked forward to hearing her interpretation.

In a couple places, the story skipped - I had to pull up my physical copy to fill in the blanks. Maybe a download malfunction on my phone?

As always, a timeless story, always relevant, always beautiful.

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  • Matt
  • 28-11-12

Technical problems with this recording - skips...

This recording has technical issues with it that I noticed after awhile. The recording skips at several instances, for example go to Chapter 11 and at 4:22 the recording skips some of the story. I have verified that it is indeed skipping by looking at the ebook on Google:


Hopefully this will be fixed and re-digitized soon.

213 people found this helpful

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  • Tex
  • 17-01-13

So many choices

As good as the movie was, this book is orders of magnitude better. I had struggled with whether to choose the abridged, with Ms. Foster, or the unabridged. I am glad I chose the unabridged. As fan of science, I enjoyed hearing Dr. Sagan’s perspective on science and religion and I suspect those passages were what got chopped in the abridged. Those plus there were times when the plot wandered about. So if you’d rather focus on the main plot line, the abridged might be a better choice.
Laurel Lefkow’s narration was excellent. Only one of the accents annoyed me, the New York street accent. But honestly, that’s not her fault – she was true to the description of the accent given in the book.
Whichever version you chose, you will not be unhappy. It’s a great audiobook, well worth the listen.

56 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen M. Banuelos
  • 07-06-16

Good But There Were Errors

Bought the book too. While listening to this unabridged edition I found an occasional paragraph or two was skipped. Satisfying overall though.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Beth
  • 30-08-18

Great book but narrator needs bigger vocabulary

This is a great book, and, for the most part, the narrator is great. Then she will mipronounce a word like "consortium" or "impious" or "metallurgy," and it's completely jarring.

61 people found this helpful

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  • AF
  • 25-01-13

Great book, significant differences from the movie

Any additional comments?

My favorite book, written by one of my favorite people (Carl Sagan).

I am writing this review to mainly focus on the major differences between the movie and the book.The book follows the same basic plot as the movie, but with a few exceptions (SPOILER ALERT):

- Ellie's mother is not dead, as in the movie. While Ellie's father passes away, her mother is around throughout her childhood and her adult life.

- Ellie and her stepfather (also not present in the movie) have a strained and reoccurring relationship throughout the book.

- Ellie's childhood, teenage years, and early graduate and internship years are described in a more detail.

- The President of USA has a more prominent, reoccurring role, and is female.

- Ellie has many romantic relationships (i.e., sexual relationships with a lab assistant early in her career, and then with Kent the Russian Scientist later in her career; and sexual tension with Drummond and then to an even greater degree with Vagay), albeit not with Palmer Joss who is the one individual she does have a romantic relationship with in the movie.

- Three machines, not two, are constructed (i.e., in the USA, Japan, and Russia). This was interesting because by the time the story concludes only two machines have been used (or should I say, one has been destroyed and one has been used and possibly is not able to be used again), with the machine in Russia still unused.

- Ellie is not the only individual who makes the trips; several delegates make the trip with her and have their own unique experiences.

- The conversation Ellie has with the alien is much, much more detailed and extensive, and for me was a real highlight of the story.

- Following her voyage in the machine, Ellie learns something interesting about the number for "pi" (i.e., 3.14...) that provides an interesting twist at the conclusion of the story.

In summary, excellent book, and not only because of the writing but due to the narrator's great performance as well. Lefkow did an outstanding job as a true Voice Actor. Most of the supporting characters are male and the narrator (female) did a superb job rising to the challenge of voice acting each male character without sounding odd or goofy.

107 people found this helpful

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  • Oraiatoxotis
  • 16-07-14

Get it

Would you consider the audio edition of Contact to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version, but the audio version is well read. I very much enjoyed listening to this narrator.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Contact?

Hard to decide; I really like most everything about the story. If I had to say, and to avoid spoilers, I'd say when she was looking up to the sky. You'll know what you get to the part.

Have you listened to any of Laurel Lefkow’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but was considering doing so. However, currently, I don't have any interest in her ither reads.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would've if I could've. Was done in 3.

Any additional comments?

Awesome story. Awesomely written. Awesome narration.

18 people found this helpful

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  • brendanstallard
  • 30-09-12

Wonderful Reading

I note that some reviewers did not like the narrator, (for a lack of accents?) Astonishing. This was perfectly read. A gentle caress to the ear. Letting the story do the work, beautiful timbre, and every word delivered with clarity. A masterful definition of the art of narration. Laurel Lefkow, thank you, wonderful work.

The novel, well, it does wander a bit. It addresses questions of science, some of the theories of which were at the point of writing, the shores of the unknown. Putting those questions of existence up against love and faith, an interesting and confusing basket.

I really liked it, but I admit, 60% of that was because of the beauty of Lefkow's voice. She could read the telephone directory for me.




brendan

25 people found this helpful

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  • Mohamed
  • 26-10-16

A remarkable audiobook

Best audiobook I have ever experienced. Phenomenal narrator: perfect pace and interpretation of the text. Carl Sagan captures a Noah's Arc kind of presentation; rich and well-informed reflections on the universe and the human condition, portrayed ever so simply.

14 people found this helpful