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The Black Cloud Mass Market Paperback – March 2, 1982

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Mass Market Paperback, March 2, 1982
$129.67 $49.98
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Roc (March 2, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451114329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451114327
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,135,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


One of the greatest works of science fiction ever written -- Richard Dawkins Hoyle's enduring insights into stars, nucleosynthesis, and the large-scale universe rank among the greatest achievements of 20th-century astrophysics ... His theories were unfailingly stimulating, even when they proved transient. He will be remembered with fond gratitude not only by colleagues and students, but by a much wider community who knew him through his talks and writings. -- Sir Martin Rees Obit in Physics Today --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sir Fred Hoyle, F.R.S. (1915-2001), renowned astronomer, cosmologist, writer, broadcaster, and television personality, was born in Bingley, Yorkshire and educated at Bingley Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. A Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, he was a university lecturer in Mathematics before becoming Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy (1958-73) and Director of the Cambridge Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, which he founded (1967-73). In 1969 he was elected an associate member of the American National Academy of Science - the highest U.S. honour for non-American scientists. In 1974 he was awarded a Royal Medal by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his distinguished contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology and in 1997 shared the Crafoord Prize for his contribution to the understanding of the nuclear process in stars. Other notable fiction include Ossian's Ride, October the First is Too Late and Comet Halley. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

This is good science and good fiction.
Bernard M. Patten
Fred Hoyle, aside from being a famous physicist, is a writer with great talent, and a superb sense of humor.
Gene Leboy
Read this book, and remember particularly that it was written more than 50 years ago.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Harvey on August 10, 2001
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Delighted to find this work available in hardback; I've got my old Penquin copy from the 60's (it cost less than a buck back then) and it's falling apart, as I read this book once a year whether I need to or not. I first heard of British scientist Fred Hoyle back in my freshman physics class at Wheaton College, Ill, in the early 60's re: his "steady state" theory; Shortly thereafter I came across "The Black Cloud." Hoyle is a terrific writer and brings to bear his expertise as a scientist in producing a novel that is engrossing, with the dialogue delightfully flavored with his subtle British sense of humor. I particulary enjoy the interaction between the dignified 'Astronomer Royal' and the chief character and maverick & rather unstable Professor Kingsly. The book begins with a description of a cold wintry January morning on the prime meridian in England, with the natives huddled around their fireplaces moaning about the weather, and quickly moves to Mt. Palomar above the California orange groves, where an underpaid Norwegian grad assistant finds that certain photographic plates (didn't have CDC's back then) taken of the Orion region of the sky show that an entire circle of stars is blinking on and off when compared with the plate taken somewhat earlier….a condition that shouldn't exist…and the action starts from there….of course the culprit is the "Black Cloud" heading straight for the solar system. I'm a fan of Heinlein, Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, et. al…but I gotta say this is my number one favorite of all time. Anybody who likes sci-fi within the realm of what actually could happen as told by a writer grounded in science…and who's got a flare for SETI will love this book. And the way he writes, I find myself visualizing being right there on the scene., whether at Mt. Palomar, Pasadena, or Nortonstowe out in the English countryside (where they all end up). Always felt it was too bad Hoyle wasn't a more prolific writer of novels....
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Craig Butcher on December 6, 1999
Format: Library Binding
Every bright adolescent and teenager --not to mention adult-- should read this book and ponder its subject, which is nothing less than the provenance and place of thinking beings in the Universe. Full of stimulating, exciting ideas and speculations, with an engrossing and intelligent storyline, it engages the reader in addressing the problems presented. I say every teenager should read this book because no matter what your religious or philosophical bent or direction, that's the time in life when you really start considering these important topics in a mature fashion. The book was a thrill to me as a 12 year old in the late sixties; I read it again and again, along with The Martian Chronicles, the Odyssey, A Wrinkle in Time, the Robot books of Asimov, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Huck Finn, White Fang, and all the other high-quality fiction that insidiously teaches the reader to take seriously such questions as: what constitutes a soul (or conciousness)?; to what extent is there a place for compassion in nature; even if the universe is blind and uncaring, do I still have duties and obligations?; when may, and when must, I act even when my actions harm others?; and where did we come from, is there a reason for our being, is there a reason for everything, is there a reason for anything? This may seem pretty dry but the book, like the others mentioned, is not. It's exciting to come upon these questions, to treat them seriously especially for the first time, and it's important to learn to do this humanely (history is too full of people who get the Answer to these questions and then apply it vigorously to everyone in reach). And the cosmology is fascinating, too. The actual science is a little dated, but that won't hurt--the important stuff is still valid.Read more ›
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on February 18, 2005
Format: Library Binding
In this slender tale (190 pages) from 1957 -- the year of Sputnik and tailfins -- renowned astronomer Fred Hoyle managed to foretell AI (artificial intelligence), OCR (optical character recognition), TTS (text-to-speech converters), digital burst communications and a whole host of other technologies which didn't become commonplace until 40 years later.

Perhaps his most famous innovation in this story, however, is one very few other writers or thinkers have been able to contemplate, even today: non-organic intelligence. Most science fiction assumes "little green men" with bilateral symmetry and carbon-based morphology (think "Twilight Zone" with bad rubber masks). Hoyle was one of the few to theorize information-processing as the hallmark of life and/or intelligence, rather than some biological definition. In this, he is still ahead of us, nearly half a century later.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Duncan on July 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The back cover of my (very old) copy of The Black Cloud quotes The Charlotte Observer as saying that this is possibly the best science-fiction novel ever written. Although many science-fiction fans may contest this description, it makes sense for people like me who read rather little in the genre and are often discouraged by the implausibility and basic errors of science that they often find. If you want your science fiction to be scientifically believable then you cannot do much better than The Black Cloud.

So far as the astronomy and astrophysics are concerned Hoyle's expertise was total, and I don't suppose that even today's experts in those subjects would find much to quarrel with. The biology is (perhaps fortunately, in view of the peculiar notions that the author espoused later in his life) less important to the story, but it is, on the whole, reasonable.

There are so many different editions available at Amazon, and as the copy I have read isn't any of them, it isn't easy to know where to post this review, so I have chosen the most recent, and one of the least expensive. However, if you want to buy a used copy for $218.18 that option is available.
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