Contact by Carl Sagan

“Any faith that admires truth, that strives to know God, must be brave enough to accommodate the universe.”

—Carl Sagan

So I grew up with the idea that Carl Sagan was a horrible no-good very bad atheist person, hell-bent on destroying religion and the Bible and morality and probably, like, the basic family structure and cherry pie, just for good measure.

I could do without cherry pie, I guess. It’s the worst of the fruit pies. Fight me.

For this reason (childhood), I have never ever read any or watched any of Carl Sagan’s work. Until now.

I was reading Contact in a bar a couple of weeks ago and somebody made a point to stop by, mask over face, to say how much they loved it. And I understand why. I love it too.

“Perhaps the depth of love can be calibrated by the number of different selves that are actively involved in a given relationship.”

I finished the book and decided to watch the movie, just to see how it measures up.

(When is the movie ever better than the book? OH WAIT: The Martian. Movie: 👍 Book: 🖕)

“Humans are good, she knew, at discerning subtle patterns that are really there, but equally so at imagining them when they are altogether absent.”

The movie changed some big plot points, left a lot out, and eliminated or condensed/combined some major characters but that’s kind of what you have to do when you’re smushing a 432-page book into a couple of hours of movie.

Interesting, when you realize that the book actually originated as a script — then got turned into a novel — and then back into a script. And the book was still better than the movie.

“Don’t you ever feel . . . lost in your universe? How do you know what to do, how to behave, if there’s no God? Just obey the law or get arrested?”

“You’re not worried about being lost, Palmer. You’re worried about not being central, not the reason the universe was created.”

The movie gets points for

  • a beautiful, expansive feel,
  • maintaining the tone of the book, and
  • Matthew McConaughey-hey-hey-alrightalrightalright.

I also want to point out that Ann Druyan co-wrote both Contact and the original Cosmos television series with Sagan. From now on maybe I’ll refer to Sagan as “Druyan’s husband,” just to balance things out. Imagine how many times she’s been referred to as Sagan’s widow.