Contacting Sagan

Famous scientist Carl Sagan’s sci-fi novel Contact (1985) is a creative study of possibilities, which could entail an encounter with aliens. His profound knowledge of astrophysics laid a substantial foundation for the amazing plotline. Indeed, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, conducted by radio astronomers, is one of the most viable ways to establish communications with aliens. Diverse knowledge of Dr. Sagan, ranging from philosophy to fine arts, added bright colors to this sci-fi narration. But, along with undisputable virtues of the novel, there were also considerable shortcomings.

Being a mainstream author, Dr. Sagan made politically motivated concessions to the positive discrimination. Some characters of the book look quite like caricatures: a female U.S. President or a great scientist from Nigeria. There are many people around the world, who would believe in UFOs rather than accept the reality of African geniuses or the U.S. government led by a broad. The climax of the novel is also questionable. After an endeavor of the global scale, they failed to produce a valid evidence of the extraterrestrial civilization. Or, rather, their starry counterparts didn’t want to provide them with utterly exotic artifacts as a convincing clue of the actual contact. It reminds me of UFO stories, where extraterrestrials tend to communicate with feeble-minded or ordinary people, leaving no traces of their presence. Looks like dubious recounts of religious bigots.

He knew stars better than earthly matters

   But, his main inaccuracies came, when he wrote about the Soviet Union. For example, Dr. Sagan tells us about «a building displaying the wares and charms of the Tadzhik Autonomous Republic». In fact, Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic was a full-fledged region of the USSR, not an autonomous one. He erroneously depicts «red Komsomol neckerchiefs». However, teenage and youth Komsomol members didn’t wear red neckerchiefs, which were an attribute of Pioneer schoolchildren. Another mistake arises, when he has mentioned «Minister of Medium Heavy Industry». But, in reality there was the Minister of Medium Machine Building, who supervised the production of Soviet atomic bombs, nuclear submarines, etc. He also made a geographical mistake, placing Uzbekistan beyond the Caucasus, whereas this Central Asian republic is situated beyond Kazakhstan – a vast Eurasian country. Moreover, Dr. Sagan wrongly transliterates a Russian word for «machine» as Makhina, which means «a giant one». Instead, he must have written Mashina.



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