Thursday, March 28, 2013

James E Gunn's "The Listeners" (fix up novel, hard sf, first contact): Just what does SETI do?

Cover of The Listeners, a first contact fix-up novel by James E Gunn.
Another important classic that doesn't get included in many classics lists of genre. While a fix up novel constructed from stories published earlier, it doesn't really feel like a disjointed one.

It gives a realistic view of how impossible a task SETI has set for itself (but I found it occasionally over-dramatic, predictable & sometimes boring).

Listeners of title are scientists on "The Project", funded by US government, to listen to signals from the stars - hoping there are intelligent aliens out there broadcasting. It brings out starkly how remote are the odds of catching alien signals even if there are a lot of aliens out there. And how much patience & perseverance is required for the task.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1972.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of James E Gunn, first contact fiction.