Over the last couple of weeks I have been reading all of the Carl Sagan books that I have. I just finished Cosmos, 1980 last night, which I was able to get a electronic version for my e-reader. In hard format, I have A Pale Blue Dot, 1994 and The Demon-Haunted World, 1995, which I read last week. I am still working getting more books by him, but it looks like I might have to hit library for them.
Carl Sagan was probably the most influential figure in my life that sparked a huge interest in Astronomy and Science for me. Living in Northern British Columbia in my youth, access to current up-to-date science news was nothing to like it is today with the Internet. It was by sheer accident that one day at was at the local Trades fair, and at one of the booths, a video was playing that presented Carl Sagan talking about the Viking Mars Exploration programs; this was just after Viking 2 landing. I stood and watched as much as I could before my mother and father whisked me away. Other media on Carl Sagan was scarce where I lived at the time, so from what could find at my school library and book store, I read as soon as I got my hands on them. I first read Cosmos, 1980 just when I left high school.
At the time, my understanding of the world around me was very limited, so reading Cosmos was not exactly light reading, but I was able to digest about eighty percent of it at the time. Today, I laugh becuase in the field of Astronomy, so much advancement and new technology has taken place, many of the questions the Carl Sagan was asking in the book have either been answered, or proven and achieved today. For example, finding planets around other stars. Having taken several class in Astronomy while I was at University did not blunt my appreciation for him either, becuase a lot of what he wrote was generally covered in my classes also. I could say that from reading his books gave me a leg up in my first and second year Astronomy classes.
The other side of Carl Sagan, from what he wrote, is the clash between scientific discovery and religion. To think the people were murdered for discovering that the Sun did not revolve around the Earth, but in fact, the other way around. And to think that well over two and half thousand years ago, someone not only figured out that the Earth was round, but had a very good idea what the diameter was, is just mind blowing when noting that for a period of about a thousand years (The Dark Ages) most civilizations claimed the Earth was flat. I agree that religion has held us back by at least a thousand years in terms of scientific advancement in the past.
I hope to read more by Carl Sagan when I get more reading material by him. For now, some of his television shows and interviews can be found on YouTube to watch.