Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Image hacked, with reverence, from Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time, #4
The first full price hardcover I ever bought was Carl Sagan's (and Ann Druyan's) book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. It cost me $29.95 with tax. I was fourteen and living in a town at the end of the road on Vancouver Island.
Usually, I survived on books from the library or cast-offs from the school. And once a year I would spend the money I had saved up for months to buy books in Vancouver.
But in the middle of the winter, on a rainy day, I found myself with forty dollars from my Grandma. In a local tourist/stationary/new-age store called the Crow's Nest, there was a small shelf of books. Mostly they were new age books, nature porn, and the wannabe ethnobotanist books that were first coming around in the early nineties. On the second shelf with it's spine sticking out was a golden green book that stuck me.
"Carl Sagan," I thought.
I had just spent the last month going over, and over, and through his book Comet. The idea dirty slushy mountains in the sky may have helped foster life on Earth, and may be a new home in the future blew my little teen mind.
Before Comet , all I knew about Sagan was that an alien handbag impersonated him in "My Step-mother Is An Alien," and that he was on the Tonight Show every once and a while. Sure, I knew he had something to do with Mars and those nifty plates on Voyager that had a naked woman on it, but that was all.
So I picked up "Shadows," scanned the table of contents, and was hooked.
With chapters titled "Snowflakes fallen on the Hearth," and "Life is just a three letter word," and "the Archimedes of the Macaques," a world of genetic and geological intrigue, a world where the amazing was found in very simple things, a world where god had no place, because he wasn't needed.
It was Sagan that told the world that we are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.
Incredible words for a kid mired in pseudo-science and latent religion.
And then I was on to other science writers, books, movies, girls (well, one girl really) and Carl Sagan kind of drifted out of my life.
But he was always there in the background, reminding me of our early ancestors and the comet trees of Freeman Dyson. in the last year or so, I've started to notice Carl again. Like a short period comet that is nearing the inner solar system again, Carl is coming back.
From comics, like Atomic Robo, where Sagan reconfigures a lightning gun to destroy a fourth dimensional Lovecraftian hero, to the mash-ups that use his voice, to days named in his honor, Sagan seems to be on a wave that could take him up to Richard Feynman levels.
And so he should. Sagan brought the stars down to the public in a way that has yet to be matched.
Carl Sagan is a future soon science hero
"We on Earth have just awakened to the great oceans of space and time from which we have emerged. We are the legacy of 15 billion years of cosmic evolution. We have a choice: We can enhance life and come to know the universe that made us, or we can squander our 15 billion-year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first second of the next cosmic year depends on what we do, here and now, with our intelligence and our knowledge of the cosmos."