Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle

First American paperback edition of The Black Cloud
The Black Cloud was Sir Fred Hoyle's first foray into science fiction and is one of the best books to emerge from the tail end of the Golden Age. Published in England in 1957, Hoyle's novel is about a large cloud that enters our solar system and appears to be heading to block all of the Earth's sunlight. I'll leave out the twists and turns that the team of scientists, who are the stars of the book, discover about the cloud, but it is an incredibly gripping, well-written story about a fictional fate for our lives on Earth. Part of what makes the book so great is that Hoyle was a renowned cosmologist and astronomer, and his knowledge of actual science informed his fiction amazingly, particularly in The Black Cloud. A noteworthy biographical fact is that Hoyle was responsible for coining the term "Big Bang" about the theory of how life on Earth began, which he ironically didn't believe in. The cover art, along with most sci-fi books from this period, is exceptional. Illustrated by Charles & Cuffari, the only other cover I've seen from them is the first edition of The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon from the mid-1960's, but beyond that they seem to have done nothing else book-related unfortunately.

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