The Vinyl Frontier: Book summary and reviews of The Vinyl Frontier by Jonathan Scott

The Vinyl Frontier

The Story of the Voyager Golden Record

by Jonathan Scott

The Vinyl Frontier by Jonathan Scott X
The Vinyl Frontier by Jonathan Scott
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About this book

Book Summary

The fascinating story behind the mission, music, and message of NASA's Voyager Golden Record - humanity's message to the stars.

In 1977, a team led by the great Carl Sagan was put together to create a record that would travel to the stars on the back of NASA's Voyager probe. They were responsible for creating a playlist of music, sounds and pictures that would represent not just humanity, but would also paint a picture of Earth for any future alien races that may come into contact with the probe. The Vinyl Frontier tells the whole story of how the record was created, from when NASA first proposed the idea to Carl to when they were finally able watch the Golden Record rocket off into space on Voyager.

The final playlist contains music written and performed by well-known names such as Bach, Beethoven, Glenn Gould, Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as music from China, India and more remote cultures such as a community in Small Malaita in the Solomon Islands. It also contained a message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, a variety of scientific figures and dimensions, and instructions on how to use it for a variety of alien lifeforms. Each song, sound and picture that made the final cut onto the record has a story to tell.

Through interviews with all of the key players involved with the record, this book pieces together the whole story of the Golden Record. It addresses the myth that the Beatles were left off of the record because of copyright reasons and will include new information about US president Jimmy Carter's role in the record, as well as many other fascinating insights that have never been reported before. It also tells the love story between Carl Sagan and the project's creative director Ann Druyan that flourishes as the record is being created.

The Golden Record is more than just a time capsule. It is a unique combination of science and art, and a testament to the genius of its driving force, the great polymath Carl Sagan.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Jonathan Scott is a writer, record collector and astronomy geek. He received his first telescope aged eight, using it to track Halley's Comet in 1986. Having followed Voyager's planetary fly-bys throughout his childhood, he first got to write about the missions in 2004. Jonathan has written for Record Collector magazine, edited books about Prince, Cher and the San Francisco psych explosion, and penned articles on Nirvana, the Pogues, the Venga Boys, Sir Patrick Moore and Sir Isaac Newton in a variety of magazines. If he'd been in charge of the Voyager Golden Record, aliens would assume humanity had three chords.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Bloomsbury USA. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Delivered with effortless grace, this buoyant look at one of NASA's most unusual but oft-overlooked efforts will appeal to music fans and astronomy buffs alike." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Insightful, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable, this is the sort of popular history book clubs adore." - Booklist (starred review)

"A must for all libraries." - Library Journal (starred review)

"You may have heard of the Voyager Golden Record, but Scott's illuminating backstory brings a new appreciation to this simple object. It's not just a record. It's science's most thoughtful and optimistic act." - Amy Shira Teitel, author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity

"An entertaining, compelling, brilliantly-researched and inspiring account of the Voyager spaceship's curious passenger, the Golden Record, and the wonderful team of dreamers who made it happen." - Emer Reynolds, writer and director of The Farthest

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Author Information

Jonathan Scott

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.

He received his first telescope aged eight, using it to track Halley's Comet in 1986. Having followed Voyager's planetary fly-bys throughout his childhood, he first got to write about the missions in 2004. If he'd been in charge of the Voyager Golden Record, aliens would assume humanity had three chords.

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