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Posted by barb on Aug 2, 2003 in Books |

by Carl Sagan

Excellent book! I’ve wanted to read this book since they started filming the movie version in Socorro (where I was living at the time) — that was at least seven years ago. I’m glad I finally got around to it!

In the novel, the Very Large Array radio interferometer in New Mexico has been expanded to over 100 telescopes and works much of the time searching for signals from extraterrestrial beings. Project Argus is lead by Ellie Arroway, a strong female scientist who has had to prove herself in a male-dominated field. One day in the late 1980s, Argus is successful — it detects a signal from Vega that is definitely not natural. In fact, once deciphered, the message is seen to contain instructions to build a machine. No one quite knows what the machine will do. In fact, construction of the machine requires whole new industries that Earth engineers had never conceived.

Two of the best things about this novel are Ellie Arroway and the President of the United States, who is female. Sagan has created two strong female characters who are sympathetic, not complete bitches (though Ellie boarders on it), and great role models. It’s just too bad that the movie version had to use Clinton rather than portraying a female president.

Highly recommended.

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