Contact - Carl Sagan | Human Technological and Emotional-Cognitive Development

Because of what the science fiction genre is--a genre that considers how science will shape mankind as he moves into the future while retaining the human spirit, then the greatest science fiction novel is Contact by Carl Sagan. During his life, Sagan championed human rights issues and encouraged the search for extraterrestrial life. He was instrumental in developing SETI.
His lone novel merges those two concerns. Contact interlinks the futurity of traveling to the stars with the development of human empathy and human self and social understanding. Discovery of advanced techniques of space travel also yields the discovery of patient and empathetic sentient beings. They desire to work with humans to help them grow past their emotional and technological nascence.

Eleanor Arroway - An Exemplar for Mankind

The hero of Contact--Eleanor Arroway--repeatedly neglects her own dying mother as she tries to make contact with the stars. Eleanor is not able to move beyond childhood hurts she experienced in life and blames her mother for her own pain. When she does take an interstellar trip to talk to another sentient lifeform, it takes on the likeness of her father. Because to go out we must go in.

The Future of Humanity

Sagan stops shorts of making claims about the shape of humanity in the future. He doesn't, for instance, go Arthur C. Clarke's route in 2001 to predict that humans will one day evolve into a higher lifeform, a star child existing as energy, capable of moving through sidereal space with the speed of light. Sagan does intimate that to travel beyond the Earth and reach new worlds, we must first deal with internecine, human conflicts.
Carl Sagan presents a hopefulness on mankind's interior future--his soulfulness--as well as a hopefulness about mankind's ability to increase in technological and scientific understanding. Sagan's hopefulness extends to our capacity for invention, our resourcefulness, our intelligence. Sagan encourages humanity to reach for the stars.
Sagan also encourages human reconciliation. Let unforgiveness go. Embrace our common humanity and live in peace with each other and with ourselves. Only then will we realize what mankind can be and where mankind can go.

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