Friday, July 1, 2011

Contact, 29/100

At age twelve, I was completely obsessed with the 1997 film adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel Contact. It may have been what inspired my fanciful notions of growing up to be an astronaut. Then again, most films with interesting female leads at that time sent me into dreams of impossible vocations. After Twister I was absolutely going to be a storm chaser. Jurassic Park? Paleontologist. Tomb Raider? Well, a tomb raider I guess. But what do you major in in college to become a tornado chasing, tomb raiding, tyrannosaurus-rex tamer? It took me a long time to realize that what I loved was READING (and watching) about those things.

Then came the agony over deciding between a BA in English or Film. But that's another story.

THIS story is about a woman who is the first on Earth to contact intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy. I'm willing to guess most people have seen the movie, so I won't spoil anything. I will say that the book is infinitely better than the film (no Forrest Gump-esque score or Matthew McConaughey, for one).

Carl Sagan was blessed with ridiculous talent. He had the super-intelligence to be a renowned astronomer, and the rare ability to translate that knowledge into accessible writing. Creative and non. And beyond that he was a promoter of peace and humanism. What I'm trying to say here is we should start The United Church of Carl Sagan.

Like all good science fiction, the plot may be out-of-this-world, but it's pointing directly back at the world. The story is about communicating with alien life, however it's more concerned with how humans communicate amongst themselves. The ultimate message is that we're not ready to talk to the gods until we're able to converse with each other on our own planet successfully. Peacefully.

Not many quotables, but I did like this observation:

Any faith that admires truth, that strives to know God, must be brave enough to accommodate the universe. I mean the real universe. All those light-years. All those worlds. I think of the scope of your universe, the opportunities it affords that Creator, and it takes my breath away. It's much better than bottling Him up in one small world. I never liked the idea of Earth as God's green footstool. It was too reassuring, like a children's a tranquilizer. But your universe has room enough, and time enough, for the kind of God I believe in.

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