MURMURS OF EARTH: The Voyager Interstellar Record by Carl & Others Sagan

MURMURS OF EARTH: The Voyager Interstellar Record

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Should Extraterrestrials intercept our message, says Carl Sagan in a final passage of the text, they can only conclude that we possess ""a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos."" The book is a tribute to that zest as it describes the crash program to include long-playing records aboard Voyagers 1 and 1. The spacecraft, launched in 1977, are destined to fly by the outer planets and then leave the solar system bound for other parts of the galaxy; they can survive for millions of years. Before launch, Sagan assembled a team of hardy enthusiasts including astronomer Frank Drake, folk-music collector Alan Lomax, conductor Murry Sidlin, and other artists, technicians, and scientists to put together a joyous summation of earthly life and culture. No violence. No war. No politics. (Well, a list of names of Congressmen on space committees and messages from Carter and UN Secretary-General Waldheim). No sex (nix, said NASA about a nude photo of a couple). No religion (too many not to evoke the wrath of those omitted). The results are necessarily idiosyncratic, arbitrary. . . and interesting. The team bent over backward not to be too Western; Bach and Beethoven are represented, but so are many varieties of ""panpipe"" musical cultures. There are scentific messages and attempts to explain evolution and the double helix. There are both sounds and pictures of earth (transcribed to sound)--natural and manmade. The accounts of the various sections of the record by the principals involved are a mixture of the scholarly, the breathless, the windy, and the witty. One comes away with a sense of celebration of the human ego endlessly capable of expending time on a project that pleases now--no matter if it ever pays off. The illustrations show the pictorial messages they'll be getting, and then some--but the record, when released, should be worth hearing.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1978
Publisher: Random House