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The Black Cloud (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) Paperback – January 13, 2015
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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In essence, a small nebula is heading at the sun, and scientists attempt to figure out what they can do to stop it, or survive it if it can't be stopped. The book starts out with some jet-setting between the UK and California, but that's dropped early on, and from thence the implication is that only the British know their butt from their brains and can be trusted to save the world. Americans are simply to declasse.
I could criticize the lack of characterization and the lack of detail about the disaster movie aspects of the book, but that's missing the point. Hoyle wasn't a great writer, he was a good-enough writer getting across his idea, which is admittedly pretty intriguing.
I suspect, but do not know, that this book was in some part a rebuttal to the novel and film, "When Worlds Collide."
Fred Hoyle was a supporter of the 'Steady State Theory' about the origins of the universe, and this comes through in this novel too. This theory is not much highly regarded now, but I think this novel couldn't have had the power that it has without this theory. More importantly, the truth or untruth of the 'Steady State Theory' doesn't really affect the 'truth' of the novel.
Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Dec. 17, 2012.