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The Listeners [Paperback]

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Item Number 257070  
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Item description for The Listeners by James E. Gunn...

A classic of science fiction, this book predicted and inspired the creation of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)---the organization dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. A tale of contact with alien life hailed by leaders of SETI organizations and today's leading science fiction authors as hugely influential, the story appeals to both science fiction readers and the hundreds of thousands of members of various SETI organizations. This replaces 034530036X.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   216
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2004
Publisher   Benbella Books
ISBN  1932100121  
ISBN13  9781932100129  

Availability  0 units.

More About James E. Gunn

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James Gunn is a writer, actor, and filmmaker. He wrote the cult hit film" Tromeo and Juliet," he wrote and starred in "The Specials "and has written the screenplays for" Spy vs. Spy," and "Scooby Doo "for Warner Brothers Studio. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

James Gunn currently resides in Lawrence, in the state of Kansas. James Gunn was born in 1923.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Listeners?

excellent hard SF "first contact" story but has too much extra padding  Apr 15, 2008
I too ran across this in a used book store. I had not heard of Gunn before but this book is an excellent surprise discovery. I have read dozens of good stories with a theme of "first contact" that do well until the end when they just taper off weakly or remain open ended. But this plot is based on a reasonable progression of events that actually finishes with a satisfying ending.

Secondary to the main plot the story also explores some hypothetical reactions to mankind's first encounter with other life. In the this respect I think the book is rather more optimistic than I myself would predict but irregardless of your take on this it does not detract from the core plot. And I agree with another reviewer that there are far too many quotations -- but they are clearly differentiated by font or page layout and can be easily skipped over if they get to be a bit much.

In summary, I highly recommend the book for the creative and satisfying core plot, but you may find yourself skipping some of the padding.
To many quotes not enough story.  Oct 12, 2004
After seeing the reviews of this book I was really looking forward to it. In general I love the hard science fiction stories and prefer them overall. I had to struggle to finish this book and did not devour it like I do most novels I read. The reason for this and the reason I rate it so low are all the quotes in the book. You can't go a page without seeing some quote from another source. I really do like that stuff in my stories but my god every other thought in this story they go off and have to have some verse that has some deep inner meaning and importance. If I wanted to read Dante I would read Dante. If you took out all the extra quotes from other books and stories you would have a book half the size.

Again I usually love little tidbits of thought in my stories but moderation is the key, here it goes way overboard to the point I feel like the story itself wasn't fully developed to the level it could have been.
Better than Contact???  Jul 18, 2003
I can't tell you if James Gunn's `The Listeners' is better than `Contact' simply because I haven't read Carl Sagan's book. But I have read Gunn's, and I can say that Sagan would have to have moved several planets in order to come close to the quality of `The Listeners.'

Scientist Robert MacDonald is the director of "The Project," a study of sounds coming from the stars. MacDonald firmly believes that life is out there and that intelligent beings will eventually communicate with humans. He and others like him have been listening for over 50 years, but they've heard only silence. Until now.

A cryptic message arrives, but what does it mean? With the threat of the project being shut down, MacDonald desperately seeks to keep his vision alive, but the cost is high.

`The Listeners' is much more than just a "first contact" story. The writing is excellent and the drama is far above what you would expect. The more we learn about communicating with other beings, the more we find we don't know about communicating with each other. An excellent read.

240 pages

I Was Always Mad At Sagan  Jan 12, 2002
I read the Listeners when I was in college in the 80s. The edition I read had a forward written by Carl Sagan. The book was truly visionary and insightful. Some years later Contact came out and I was amazed at how Sagan had comletely stolen Mr. Gunn's plot. What really purturbed me was that nowhere in the credits did Mr. Sagan even mention James Gunn. It just seemed to me that Sagan just stood by and took credit for the entire story. To Mr. Gunn: The Listeners is a much better story than Contact! Thanks.
One of the Classic "First Contact" Novels  Feb 11, 2000
On a desperate hunt one summer day for that science-fiction rarity -- a sci-fi story that followed actual scientific laws and did not try my intelligence and patience, I accidentally discovered two books at a used book store. One of these books was The Listeners.

I was in heaven that late summer. This was real science fiction. This book was fantastic! There were no "starships" or "Deathstars." There were only well-drawn, complex, and brilliant characters using their scientific and technical gifts.Obviously, as one reviewer had already observed, this "first contact" novel was the inspiration for Carl Sagan's work "Contact." In my opinion, "The Listeners" is the better-written book, even though I will always remain a huge fan of the late - and forever great - Carl Sagan.


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