Follow TV Tropes

Following

History Literature / Contact

Go To



** Similarly, another of the people chosen to go into the Machine was ''disowned'' by her fundamentalist Hindu family; she was born a Brahmin, but chose to marry a Dalit. He died soon after they married, but MalignedMixedMarriage remained her BerserkButton unto the present day. On the other world, [[spoiler:she meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her deceased husband, and comes to believe that their personalities were incompatible; that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing. Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief over his death, only keen regret for "giving up" her family for him, purposefully forgetting that ''they'' disowned ''her'']].

to:

** Similarly, another of the people chosen to go into the Machine was ''disowned'' by her fundamentalist Hindu family; she was born a Brahmin, but chose to marry a Dalit. He died soon after they married, but MalignedMixedMarriage remained remains her BerserkButton unto to the present day. On the other world, [[spoiler:she meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her deceased husband, and comes to believe that their personalities were incompatible; that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing. Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief over his death, only keen regret for "giving up" her family for him, purposefully forgetting that ''they'' disowned ''her'']].


* BurialInSpace: Hadden's final fate is to have his preserved body launched into space where it will potentially last for millions of years, in a last desperate attempt at immortality.
* CluelessAesop: A subplot that didn't make it into the movie was Ellie's rocky relationship with her mother and [[StayInTheKitchen chauvinist]] stepfather, John Staughton - especially as her mother [[ParentWithNewParamour remarried]] just two years after her doting father, Ted Arroway, died. [[spoiler:Turns out that her mother ''cheated'' on him with said future stepfather, resulting in Ellie's conception. Sagan describes this as a massive shock to Ellie's worldview - that she had spurned her "real" father in favor of a "fake" - but when one considers how Ted did all he could to encourage Ellie to enrich herself and John ''refused to pay for Ellie's college because he thought women were too stupid to be scientists'', many adoptees would think that Ellie was completely justified in adoring the man they betrayed and giving the GlorifiedSpermDonor the cold shoulder. That her mother was too ashamed to admit it while she was alive just makes both of them even more despicable]].
** Similarly, Devi - another of the people chosen to go into the Machine - was disowned by her family years ago for marrying someone they didn't approve of. She was a Brahmin, he was a Dalit, it was not acceptable. However he died at a young age. MalignedMixedMarriage still makes her furious in the present day. In the other world, [[spoiler: Devi meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her young man, and realizes that their personalities were incompatible and that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing.]] Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief for his loss, but only keen regret for losing her family for him - her family, who ''disowned her''.

to:

* BurialInSpace: Hadden's final fate is to have his preserved body launched into space where it will potentially last for millions of years, in a last desperate attempt at immortality.
immortality.,
* CluelessAesop: A subplot that didn't make it into the movie was movie; Sagan tries to shoehorn in a "treasure your family, warts and all" message into the last few dozen pages, but many would say the examples he chose were ''not'' good ones.
** Front-and-center is
Ellie's rocky relationship with her mother and [[StayInTheKitchen chauvinist]] stepfather, John Staughton - especially as her mother [[ParentWithNewParamour remarried]] just two years after her doting father, Ted Arroway, died. [[spoiler:Turns Please note the following;
***Ted doted on Elle and did all he could to help her develop her interests as a scientist despite being a shopkeeper with no real scientific training; he become scientifically literate through ''self-study'' just so he could teach Ellie.
***John subjected Ellie to harrowing emotional abuse. He condemned Ellie's interest in science and technology as "unseemly for a girl" and would reduce her chances of marrying. He stated ''to her face'' that "she just didn't have the ability" and did ''nothing'' to aid in her education despite being ''an associate professor of physics.'' Finally, he refused to pay for her higher education.
***[[spoiler:Turns
out that her mother ''cheated'' on him with said future stepfather, resulting in Ellie's conception. Sagan describes depicts this as a massive shock to Ellie's worldview - worldview; that she had spurned her "real" father in favor of a "fake" - but when one considers how Ted did all he could to encourage Ellie to enrich herself and John ''refused to pay for "fake". Considering that both of Ellie's college because he thought women father figures were too stupid to be scientists'', ''fully aware'' that she was John's biological daughter, many adoptees would think that Ellie was completely justified in adoring the man they betrayed and giving the GlorifiedSpermDonor the cold shoulder. That her mother was too ashamed to admit it while she was alive just makes both of them her and John appear even more despicable]].
** Similarly, Devi - another of the people chosen to go into the Machine - was disowned ''disowned'' by her family years ago for marrying someone they didn't approve of. She fundamentalist Hindu family; she was born a Brahmin, he was but chose to marry a Dalit, it was not acceptable. However he Dalit. He died at a young age. soon after they married, but MalignedMixedMarriage still makes remained her furious in BerserkButton unto the present day. In On the other world, [[spoiler: Devi [[spoiler:she meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her young man, deceased husband, and realizes comes to believe that their personalities were incompatible and incompatible; that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing.]] divorcing. Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief for over his loss, but death, only keen regret for losing "giving up" her family for him - her family, who ''disowned her''.him, purposefully forgetting that ''they'' disowned ''her'']].


** Similarly, Devi - another of the people chosen to go into the Machine - was disowned by her family years ago for marrying someone they didn't approve of. She was a Brahmin, he was a Dalit, it was not acceptable. However he died at a young age. Race or class-based opposition to mixed marriages still makes her furious in the present day. In the other world, [[spoiler: Devi meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her young man, and realizes that their personalities were incompatible and that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing.]] Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief for his loss, but only keen regret for losing her family for him - her family, who ''disowned her''.

to:

** Similarly, Devi - another of the people chosen to go into the Machine - was disowned by her family years ago for marrying someone they didn't approve of. She was a Brahmin, he was a Dalit, it was not acceptable. However he died at a young age. Race or class-based opposition to mixed marriages MalignedMixedMarriage still makes her furious in the present day. In the other world, [[spoiler: Devi meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her young man, and realizes that their personalities were incompatible and that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing.]] Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief for his loss, but only keen regret for losing her family for him - her family, who ''disowned her''.


* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Averted, at least in the most common sense. The idea that a different civilization, with different history and technological level, would be transmitting in binary in the same fashion as we do, though, is a very close call. However, they do take on the form of humans and speak in Earth languages when they meet the Five.

to:

* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Averted, at least in the most common sense. The idea that a different civilization, with different history and technological level, would be transmitting in binary in the same fashion as we do, though, is a very close call. However, they They do take on the form of humans and speak in Earth languages when they meet the Five.Five, but this is after scanning their minds.



* AlternativeNumberSystem: Apparently someone [[spoiler:capable of messing with the values of mathematical constants]] likes base 11.

to:

* AlternativeNumberSystem: Apparently someone [[spoiler:capable of messing with or responsible for setting the values of mathematical constants]] likes base 11.



* [[WickedStepmother Wicked Stepfather]]: Ellie's father died when she was in sixth grade, and her mother remarried two years later - a college professor named John Staughton who believed that [[StayInTheKitchen women had no talent for science]], if Ellie pursued a scientific career [[NeverASelfMadeWoman she would be unable to attract a husband]], and refused to pay for Ellie's college. The only reason Ellie went to Harvard was because she made a large number of lucky guesses on a test. Once Ellie becomes a success, he ends up spending all of Ellie's adult life wracked with guilt at having dismissed her talents - especially as Ellie despises him for his dismissals, though [[ParentWithNewParamour not being Ted Arroway]] didn't help either. [[spoiler:However, in a rare twist, he is Ellie's biological father and fully aware thus, but chooses not to reveal this at the request of Ellie's mother, as both of them know that Ellie wouldn't forgive her for cheating on Ted Arroway over a decade before, let alone seeking John out once the man Ellie adored was dead.]]

to:

* [[WickedStepmother Wicked Stepfather]]: Ellie's father died when she was in sixth grade, and her mother remarried two years later - a college professor named John Staughton who disdained her father for being a mere shopkeeper. He also believed that [[StayInTheKitchen women had no talent for science]], if Ellie pursued a scientific career [[NeverASelfMadeWoman she would be unable to attract a husband]], and refused to pay for Ellie's college. The only reason Ellie went to Harvard was because she made a large number of lucky guesses on a test. Once Ellie becomes a success, he ends up spending all of Ellie's adult life wracked with guilt at having dismissed her talents - especially as Ellie despises him for his dismissals, though [[ParentWithNewParamour not being Ted Arroway]] didn't help either. [[spoiler:However, in a rare twist, he is Ellie's biological father and fully aware thus, but chooses not to reveal this at the request of Ellie's mother, as both of them know that Ellie wouldn't forgive her for cheating on Ted Arroway over a decade before, let alone seeking John out once the man Ellie adored was dead.]]



* [[YoureNotMyFather You're Not My Parents]]: Never outright said, but Ellie is rather cold to her mother and [[WickedStepmother stepfather]]; her mother because Ellie believes [[ParentWithNewParamour she remarried suspiciously quickly]], her stepfather because [[StayInTheKitchen he held her interest in science in disdain]]. Once she deciphers the Message, both attempt to re-connect with her, but she sees it as fair-weather parenting and steps up to ignoring them completely, even as her stepfather becomes increasingly apologetic and her mother begins deteriorating into senile dementia, insisting to everyone at the old folk's home that her "famous daughter" will come by soon. [[spoiler:After Ellie returns from her interstellar voyage, she discovers that her mother died while she was away... and left her a message that shatters her world; the kind and doting Ted Arroway who died when she was a child and nurtured her love of science ''wasn't her biological father'' - her mother cheated on him with her cold, distant, demeaning eventual '''stepfather.''' Ted was aware of this, but never failed to cherish Ellie - and her mother was so ashamed she only could only admit all of this in her will]].

to:

* [[YoureNotMyFather You're Not My Parents]]: Never outright said, but Ellie is rather cold to her mother and [[WickedStepmother stepfather]]; her mother because Ellie believes [[ParentWithNewParamour she remarried suspiciously quickly]], her stepfather because [[StayInTheKitchen he held her interest in science in disdain]]. Once she deciphers the Message, both attempt to re-connect with her, but she sees it as fair-weather parenting and steps up to ignoring them completely, even as her stepfather becomes increasingly ranges between being apologetic and guilt-tripping her and her mother begins deteriorating into senile dementia, insisting to everyone at the old folk's home that her "famous daughter" will come by soon. [[spoiler:After Ellie returns from her interstellar voyage, she discovers that her mother died while she was away... and left her a message that shatters her world; the kind and doting Ted Arroway who died when she was a child and nurtured her love of science ''wasn't her biological father'' - her mother cheated on him with her cold, distant, demeaning eventual '''stepfather.''' Ted was aware of this, but never failed to cherish Ellie - and her mother was so ashamed she only could only admit all of this in her will]].


* ReligionIsRight: A subtle variation of this trope occurs at the end of the novel. Ellie discovers [[spoiler: a "signature" of sorts of the creator of the Universe hidden inside Pi. At the ''same time'' she discovers the other thing mentioned above.]]

to:

* ReligionIsRight: A subtle variation of this trope occurs at the end of the novel. Ellie discovers [[spoiler: a "signature" of sorts of the creator of the Universe hidden inside Pi. Discussing the possibility with Joss he certainly takes it as this, even though she cautions him that this creator doesn't much resemble his Earth-centric Biblical God. At the ''same time'' she discovers the other thing mentioned above.]]


Added DiffLines:

* TechnologyMarchesOn: Two pieces of technology that played a major role in the backstory of the setting are "Adnix", a program that automatically mutes commercials, and "Preachnix", one which determines if someone on TV has begun evangelizing and changes the channel. Apparently the remote control had not been invented when this book was written.

Added DiffLines:

* AuthorAppeal: SETI, US and USSR scientists who are friendly with each other, religious figures who greet science happily as a sign that God is so much larger than they once thought, the idea that in orbit nationalism vanishes, a general wonder at the universe, tangents about features of history or etymology.


Added DiffLines:

* IrrationalHatred: Ellie, for all her interest in alien contact, is pretty xenophobic. She's highly repulsed by insects and snakes, and is uncomfortable around humans who don't look 'right' - who have marked injuries or disabilities. She does not actually consider this or that it could be a problem when talking to aliens until [[spoiler: actually on the station. Good thing one decides to take AFormYouAreComfortableWith!]]


Added DiffLines:

* PoliticallyIncorrectHero: Ellie feels revulsion when talking to people who don't look 'right', specifically mentioning people with Down's Syndrome, and knows this is terrible of her but goes out of her way not to think about or overcome it. While the President's portrayal is more or less on the favorable side overall she also, when venting angrily about Hitler being on the broadcast, randomly calls him "fruity".

Added DiffLines:

* NamedAfterSomeoneFamous: Carl Sagan named the central character Ellie Arroway, for his wife's personal hero Eleanor Roosevelt and for Voltaire's real last name, Arouet.


** Similarly, Devi - another of the people chosen to go into the Machine - was disowned by her family years ago for marrying someone they didn't approve of. She was a Brahmin, he was a Dalit, it was not acceptable. However he died at a young age. Race or class-based opposition to mixed marriages still makes her furious in the present day. In the other world, [[spoiler: Devi meets an alien who's taken on the form and voice of her young man, and realizes that their personalities were incompatible and that if he hadn't died they would have ended up divorcing.]] Consequently she declares that she no longer feels grief for his loss, but only keen regret for losing her family for him - her family, who ''disowned her''.



* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: Near the end of the novel, [[spoiler: the humans are greeted by aliens who look like familiar humans in order to make the experience less frightening. Ellie sees her late father.]]

to:

* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: Near the end of the novel, [[spoiler: the humans are greeted by aliens who look like familiar humans in order to make the experience less frightening. Ellie sees her late father.father, Devi Sukhavati her late husband, Vaygay Lunacharsky his niece, Abonnema Eda his wife, and Xi Qiaomu [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers his favorite historical figure]], the first emperor of a unified China. Ellie wonders about this last and asks Xi, and finds that his family was all killed horribly and their lives covered up; one reason he loves Emperor Chin is that it's just not possible for his place in history to be removed.]]



* HigherTechSpecies: The FirstContact aliens.

to:

* HigherTechSpecies: The FirstContact aliens. [[spoiler: However, they did ''not'' create the wormholes or the stations attached to the wormholes and don't have that ability - Ellie speculates that there are tiers of civilizations above them, on up to SufficientlyAdvancedAliens who built messages into the structure of the universe.]]


Added DiffLines:

* ImmortalitySeeker: Hadden. He repeatedly links himself to Gilgamesh but seems unaware that Gilgamesh eventually came to the conclusion that immortality wasn't possible and became a better leader.


* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: President Minority as she's a woman, but otherwise she's a fairly ordinary presidential figure. Her party affiliation is never mentioned and she's not PresidentEvil or President Personable; she makes decisions that are to the project's benefit and against it.

to:

* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: President Minority as she's a woman, but otherwise she's a fairly ordinary presidential figure. Her party affiliation is never mentioned and she's not PresidentEvil or President Personable; she makes decisions that are to the project's benefit and against it. She's clever and sarcastic but has a sentimental side.


Added DiffLines:

* ScienceMarchesOn: In this setting it's believed that living in zero gravity with limited oxygen extends the lives of mammals and makes cancers less likely to form, so it's become common for wealthy elderly people to go up into orbit and comfortably live out their lives in specially-built stations. The only downsides are the expense and that a loss in bone mass means that reentry into Earth's gravity would be fatal for a long-term spacer. Since the book was written it's been proven that prolonged weightlessness has [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_spaceflight_on_the_human_body massively deleterious effects]] on the human body - radiation poisoning, accelerated Alzheimer's, cataracts, redistribution of bodily fluids, blurred vision, and much much more. Plus everything stinks and food doesn't taste as good.


Ellie Arroway, a radioastronomer working in Socorro, New Mexico, discovers a steady and clear signal coming from a point in space that corresponds to the distant star Vega. The signal is confirmed to be legitimate, and soon a worldwide effort is made to receive the message whole (due to the impossibility of monitoring the same spot in the sky as the Earth revolves) and then to decipher it, while religious and political uproar rises all around.

to:

Ellie Arroway, a radioastronomer radio astronomer working in Socorro, New Mexico, discovers a steady and clear signal coming from a point in space that corresponds to the distant star Vega. The signal is confirmed to be legitimate, and soon a worldwide effort is made to receive the message whole (due to the impossibility of monitoring the same spot in the sky as the Earth revolves) and then to decipher it, while religious and political uproar rises all around.


* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Averted, at least in the most common sense. The idea that a different civilization, with different history and technological level, would be transmitting in binary in the same fashion as we do, though, is a very close call.

to:

* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Averted, at least in the most common sense. The idea that a different civilization, with different history and technological level, would be transmitting in binary in the same fashion as we do, though, is a very close call. However, they do take on the form of humans and speak in Earth languages when they meet the Five.


* TechnologyMarchesOn: Sagan lampshades this in the "Author's Note" section.
-->My fondest hope for this book is that it will be made obsolete by the pace of real scientific discovery.

Added DiffLines:

* CluelessAesop: A subplot that didn't make it into the movie was Ellie's rocky relationship with her mother and [[StayInTheKitchen chauvinist]] stepfather, John Staughton - especially as her mother [[ParentWithNewParamour remarried]] just two years after her doting father, Ted Arroway, died. [[spoiler:Turns out that her mother ''cheated'' on him with said future stepfather, resulting in Ellie's conception. Sagan describes this as a massive shock to Ellie's worldview - that she had spurned her "real" father in favor of a "fake" - but when one considers how Ted did all he could to encourage Ellie to enrich herself and John ''refused to pay for Ellie's college because he thought women were too stupid to be scientists'', many adoptees would think that Ellie was completely justified in adoring the man they betrayed and giving the GlorifiedSpermDonor the cold shoulder. That her mother was too ashamed to admit it while she was alive just makes both of them even more despicable]].

Added DiffLines:

* AlienGeometries: On the world where the travelers land, there is a door on the beach that can only be interacted with from one side.


Added DiffLines:

* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: The last chapter touches upon this.


Added DiffLines:

* LotusEaterMachine: Kind of. The aliens appear to each of the crew members as someone they are really fond of, although the travelers know that they aren't really that person.


Added DiffLines:

* TechnologyMarchesOn: Sagan lampshades this in the "Author's Note" section.
-->My fondest hope for this book is that it will be made obsolete by the pace of real scientific discovery.


* HeroicBastard: [[spoiler:Ellie, the protagonist,]] finds out in the very last chapter that [[spoiler:her deceased father, whom she idolized, is not her father. Her (not actually "step-") stepfather, with whom she's had a [[WickedStepmother vitriolic relationship]] with since she was a ''sixth grader'', [[GlorifiedSpermDonor is]]. This shocks her ''more'' than the message from God (?) inside Pi]]. This subplot is completely absent from [[{{Film/Contact}} The Movie]].

to:

* HeroicBastard: [[spoiler:Ellie, the protagonist,]] finds out in the very last chapter that [[spoiler:her deceased father, whom she idolized, is not her biological father. Her (not actually "step-") stepfather, with whom she's had a [[WickedStepmother vitriolic relationship]] with since she was a ''sixth grader'', [[GlorifiedSpermDonor is]]. This shocks her ''more'' than the message from God (?) inside Pi]]. This subplot is completely absent from [[{{Film/Contact}} The Movie]].

Showing 15 edit(s) of 48

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report