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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Black Cloud

Copyright 1957 by Fred Hoyle

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

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.

Reviews of other works by Fred Hoyle:
Ossian's Ride
October The First Is Too Late

Reviews of other works by Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey Hoyle:
Into Deepest Space
The Inferno