For decades, Jill Tarter led the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence
Pegasus Books, $27.95
In Carl Sagan’s 1985 sci-fi novel Contact, a radio astronomer battles naysayers and funding setbacks to persist in her audacious plan — scanning the skies for signals from aliens. Sagan had real-life inspiration for his book (and the 1997 movie of the same name): astronomer Jill Tarter, who spearheaded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, for decades.
In Sagan’s story, the protagonist, Ellie Arroway, detects mysterious chatter from the cosmos. Tarter had no such luck. But her story, told by journalist Sarah Scoles in Making Contact, still provides insights into what it means to be human in a vast universe