his one really took me by surprise. It came out in 1957, so far back that it was a year before I was born. And generally, truthfully, scifi from that time involves rocketships with fins landing on planets that all look like our moon, and bug-eyed monsters slobbering over the womenfolk.
Yeah, but Black Cloud was different. And so much better.
The idea is heavily weighted with the science at this time – astronomers (through very detailed descriptions of their work and processes) detect a black cloud moving kinda towards us, no, right towards us. There is a lot of scientific notation to back this up, all showing that in a year and change, it will be on us. And what will be the results? Probably a month of so of blackness as the cloud streams over our sun and us, possibly the ripping away of our atmosphere, or maybe the atomic impacts on our gas envelope boiling us alive. Or the coverage freezing us to death. Or maybe we’ll be just fine.
An observation station is set up in England and scientists gathered from about the world begin studying it and theorizing what will happen when it passes us. And things look grim, indeed.
Until the cloud starts slowing down.
Yes, it’s a sentient being of great intelligence and power that overlooks our puny little race to recharge around our sun. The questions are: what is its purpose here, how long will it stay, and can our heroic scientists open up communications with a vast intergalactic being?
I really had to say that this work was very good across all fronts. As a writer, the author surprised me with plot twists and character deaths I did not see coming. And from a science point, sure, the human computer was a punch-card monster, but outside of that the ideas sounded pretty good (and very interesting). Yes, it was like nothing I’d ever read before.
Another book shop find, one you might have to poke around a bit for.