The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record by Jonathon Scott tells the fascinating story of Earth’s interstellar mix-tape – humanity’s message to the stars.
Forty years ago, a group of scientists, artists and writers gathered in a house in Ithaca, New York to work on the most important mix tape ever conceived. It wasn’t from one person to another, it was from Earth to the Cosmos.
During the design phase of the Voyager mission, it was realised that the two probes would eventually leave our solar system to drift forever in space. With this in mind, NASA decided to commission astronomer Carl Sagan to create a message to be fixed to the side of Voyager 1 and 2 – a plaque, for any passing alien that might one day chance upon them.
The result was the Voyager Golden Record, a genre-hopping multimedia metal LP that contained a 90-minute playlist of music from across the globe, a sound essay of life on Earth, spoken greetings in multiple languages and more than 100 photographs and diagrams, all painstakingly chosen by Sagan and his team to represent humanity. The record included music by J.S. Bach and Chuck Berry, a message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, facts, figures and dimensions, all encased in a golden box with instructions on how to play the record and even a handy stylus to drop in the groove.
Each track, each sound, and every image has a tale to tell. The Vinyl Frontier tells the story of NASA’s interstellar record through interviews with key figures throughout the process, from the first phone calls to final launch, when Voyager 1 and 2 left our planet bearing their hopeful message from the Summer of ’77 to a distant future.
Jonathan Scott is a music writer and self-confessed astronomy geek. Formerly a contributing editor to Record Collector magazine, he has edited books about Prince, Cher and the San Francisco psych explosion, and written about Nirvana, the Pogues, the Venga Boys, Sir Patrick Moore and Sir Isaac Newton in a variety of magazines.
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The Vinyl Frontier: The story of the Voyager golden record is published by Bloomsbury on March 21st 2019 and will be available to buy from Amazon and other leading retailers.