The Black Cloud
Copyright 1957 by
I first read this in 1969 and most recently on the 29th October 2021
A gigantic cloud of dust is approaching our Solar System. In passing through the system, its will envelop
the sun and the planets, including the Earth. Even if it takes a few months to pass us by, it will
have massive climatic effects on our world, and will push us into a new ice-age. However, it now
appears to be slowing as it arrives. How and why could it have stopped and what can be done?
A crack team of astronomers and physicists, assembled to advice the British government, are baffled.
There is clearly more to this black cloud that seen at first sight. Time for some clever thinking
and that's exactly what our protagonists excel at.
I quite enjoyed this, although was less than enamoured by the ending. This novel was written more
than sixty years ago and, girl, it has dated! It's a man's world, women are clearly second-class, although
the men acknowledge that some women can be intelligent. It's also a world of incredibly slow
communication. The UK had a single, monochrome television channel provided by the BBC and there weren't that many
televisions. People relied on newspaper and the BBC radio for their news. There were of
course no mobile phones. You can almost understand why people drank and smoked so much.
Unsurprisingly politics doesn't appear to have changed much. But technological development has been
astonishing: The novel refers to a computer in Cambridge. It uses paper tape and it's fast (for its time).
Look just how fast this massive monstrous machine is:
"Off she goes. From now on for the next hour the machine will be multiplying a hundred thousand ten-figure numbers every minute"
A modern PC is perhaps 1000 billion times faster than that powerhouse. This has nothing
to do with the story of course.
Loaded on the 14th November 2021.