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Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Many Covers of Carl Sagan’s CONTACT

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Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. Her days are books, books, books; she knows how lucky that makes her.  Twitter: @mschingler

Ellie Arroway believes in science, not deities. She also believes that the universe is teeming with other living beings—otherwise, isn’t it rather a grand waste of space? This belief propels her to devote her career to searching for signals from the stars.

Ellie is ostracized from scientific communities because of her odd focus, but her devotion pays off when she does pick up a signal and finds that it’s transmitting plans for a mysterious machine that appears designed to transport one traveler elsewhere. Getting there will require political and international finagling and tangling with people who don’t want humans to reach beyond the bounds of Earth, but it’s all worth it if the journey proffers any of the answers that Ellie, and humanity, desperately needs.

Carl Sagan’s classic novel Contact is wonderful. It is quietly feminist, openly hopeful, and bears repeat reading—it will induce awe each and every time.

Gallery Books is about to issue a beautiful new paperback reprint, and in preparation for that, we thought it would be fun to look back on some of the other covers that the text has come into contact with (sorry, had to) before.


The New Cover

Gallery Books is issuing this reprint paperback edition of Carl Sagan’s classic on February 26, 2019. Its image is nebulous and dreamy, and so pretty that I’m almost tempted to purchase a back-up copy for my library.




The Audiobook Cover, Movie Tie-In

Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey’s movie arguably did justice to Carl Sagan’s interstellar epic, though it emphasized the religion aspects more and decommissioned the book’s woman president in favor of the then-current president, Bill Clinton. Because the movie was made when  McConaughey was still all right all right all right, this audiobook (and the paperbacks with the same cover) may add a pretty factor to your Sagan collection.


The Other Audiobook Cover

Swirling galaxies. Very purple. Dated title font and color.





The Kindle Cover

Looks like the beginning of a Star Wars flick.







The Book Club Edition and Hardcover Cover

The hardcover edition has the cover that I most associate with Sagan’s book, and I love it because it’s the OG.






The UK Cover

The array that starts it all, pointed heavenward and waiting as galaxies blaze, teeming with life, above. Why do the Brits get all of the nice things?!






The Paperback Cover

Attached to a 1990s paperback reissue. Has a VHS quality.






Which cover is your favorite?