BONUS AUDIO: In an exclusive introduction, evolutionary biologist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins explains why he considers The Black Cloud, written by the late astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, to be "one of the greatest works of science fiction ever written".
©1982 Fred Hoyle; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Grounded hard sci-fi.
The description of the cloud's effects on the earth: sci-fi writers usual stuff up the details (because what they write is usually just fantasy in space) but Hoyle brings his enormous learning and knowledge to bear and the results are awesome.
When space came down to Earth (?)
The Black Cloud is possibly too dry for anyone without a real interest in science, and probably too intellectually demanding for those who just want cliched heroics and explosions every 10 minutes...
As a (retired) scientist, I especially enjoyed the realism of the description of how scientists work and think and interact.
It was also interesting to reflect on scientific leaders are controlled by their funding agencies, and Hoyle's fictional rants against politicians should appeal to a universal audience.
All the primary characters were convincingly portrayed. They were also as interesting and as diverse as real scientists.
Climate science, as known at the time of this book, played a key role in helping earth survive the arrival of the Black Cloud. Interestingly, their research and knowledge soon became highly politicized and was declared secret by the government, reminding me of the Manhattan Project.It was interesting to consider the author's speculations on the nature of highly advanced life forms, and how limited our own minds may be in comparison to more highly evolved life forms.
Like the reader of the introduction, Richard Dawkins, I first read The Black Cloud many years ago. I was fascinated then by the debate over the universe...Steady State (the Hoyle thesis) or the Big Bang, which is now widely accepted. Even today, while the Steady State theory might be out of favour, I still prefer a variation on this, rather than the Big Bang. Its still a fascinating question! Thus the novel is about what might be going on out there in the vastness, and Hoyle's description of how the human race might respond to something quite different to us dropping by is amusing. The book is quaintly dated in some ways, but still worth it, especially if you were around at the time when it was written.
Dawkins' introduction was interesting and established the time frame and scientific context in which the novel was written. It would be very useful for those who are not familiar with the book.The reader ,Jack Klaff, was a bit "prim", that Tony Blair type of British accent, and the accents he gave his non British characters were at times excruciating. (I'm sure his Australian listeners would wince at the Aussie scientist, but perhaps that's just being petty!) Apart from that, it was well done.
I was strongly recommended to read this one, by my husband (astrophysicist) who has read it in 1960s and by Richard Dawkins' page. I do not regret. It is splendid, wonderful and SO full of knowledge - and I lked the strongly atheistic side of the book as well. A wonderful read, much more worth reading than "average" sci-fic. books. But I must adnit, I am a physicist and an atheist.
Interesting to compare the difference in technological level of contemporary science and that of the sixties. And likewise of the similarities of human behaviour and reasoning.
Fred Hoyle has written other books in the same vein. And numerous SF-writers. Arthur C Clarke e.g.
I'm quite interested in Richard Dawkins work, which amplified my interest if I hadn't read Hoyles work in the sixties already. Read a lot of astronomy then.
The compelling logic in the events and the hope of undiscovered resources in Mankind.
Yes. The story is plausible and the characters interesting and with substance
description of development of alien intelligence
no. entire book moving.
I do consider the audio edition better than print. You can experience the emotions associated with the progress of the story that is missed in pure print versions.
Kingsley. He announces his conclusions (appalling as they are) with quiet aplomb. Quite the juxtaposition to the consternation of his fellows in this tale.
Herrick (sp?), american member of the team voiced with the range of emotions one might anticipate give the rapidly changing conditions and conclusions. Nicely done.
Yes. It was realizing that the cloud was a sentient being.
I read this book as a teenager and found this audio version just as good - and it took me back. Because of its time-frame (mid-20th century) some people might find it a little old-fashioned, but the story is plausible. Sir Fred Hoyle's scientific background helps educate while he entertains.... which makes the plot believable.
The story flows well and keep you engaged and the narration is clear and crisp. The characters are well defined by both the writer and the narrator. I was not disappointed in my memory of the original read.
Is it wrong when you want to punch one of the characters? The pompous scientist written in these books that manipulates governments on the belief that he is superior so he is right is why scientists have such a hard time PR-wise....
Overall an interesting book from the distant past of SF.
Hoyle's The Black Cloud is very good science fiction, not boring at all, as some have said, but engaging, interesting and quite plausible. Add to this an interesting introduction by Richard Dawkins and an excellent narration by Jack Klaff and you get an audiobook which is quite close to perfection.
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