Doctor Omega

Drama About ‘Cosmos’ Author Carl Sagan and Wife Ann Druyan


With thanks to Duzit for noticing this one.... :emoji_alien:

VOYAGERS is a new screenplay which tells the love story of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan who put together records which were to represent all of humanity, and were launched into space in 1977.

The NASA spacecrafts carrying these gold-plated copper records were called Voyager I and Voyager II.

The records are intended for any extraterrestrial life which might intercept them and be curious about Earth.

Now 40 years later, the Voyagers are traveling with the records at 36,000 miles per hour in interstellar space.

The 2016 Black List, the annual roundup of the best scripts which haven’t yet been produced, chose VOYAGERS.

The film is now being packaged by Warner Brothers, and Lynda Obst (INTERSTELLAR) and Ann Druyan (COSMOS) are producing.

The words of Ann Druyan:

When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me – it still sometimes happens – and ask me if Carl changed at the end & converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous – not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful…

The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.

Science & Film spoke with screenwriter Zach Dean by phone.

Science & Film: What is VOYAGERS about?

Zach Dean: The story I am telling is the love story of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. They have a really compelling story that honestly hasn’t been told on the big screen. There are also a series of other stories being told throughout the narrative, which spans time. You don’t necessarily know how they are connected until you see that these are all parts of the origin story of the music that went out on Voyager.


S&F: What research went into writing it?

ZD: Ann Druyan is one of the producers on the project. We have spent many hours together. I spent a week in Ithaca with she and her family. I have interviewed and spent time with three of Sagan’s children. I also interviewed his second wife Linda Salzman and his collaborator Tim Ferris. I spent a lot of time getting to know all of them to see their different perspectives on the same events. It is a dear story for a lot of people so I take it with a lot of gravity.

S&F: Why did you want to write this story?

ZD: I met with Lynda Obst who is a wonderful, famous Hollywood player who has been around for many years; she is a very good friend of Carl and Ann’s. They made CONTACT together with Jodie Foster in 1997, which is based on a novel that Carl wrote. They produced that together. I was speaking to Lynda about a different project but then she approached me about this one. Later, I met with Ann and we ended up developing a trust between the three of us and built it from there. It was a fantastic experience to work with them.

S&F: Did writing VOYAGERS change your views about science or scientists? People sometimes see scientists as unapproachable.

ZD: I think the thing about Carl is that he made science approachable; he made it emotional, he could bring it to a level that felt human without dumbing it down in the process. He had a level of poetic and oratory skill that allowed complex things to be summarized in metaphor which allowed people to understand things they didn’t necessarily have the scientific training for. They could understand the metaphor behind what he was trying to say so it would become eye-opening. I wish he was around now. The world could use some Sagan right now.


S&F: It’s a timely story.

ZD: It’s a very timely story. Sagan, along with his colleagues at Cornell, challenged the notion that people could survive a limited nuclear exchange through his Nuclear Winter theory. They argued that you could simply not have limited nuclear exchange, because the climate change provoked by the burning of targeted city centers and petroleum reserves would saturate the planet’s atmosphere, detrimentally affecting the Earth’s ability to sustain human life. We cannot recover from that. The present re-considering of the limited nuclear change option is horrifying.

S&F: How has the Black List helped get VOYAGERS closer to production?

ZD: We are doing great. The producers are packaging the film right now with Warner Brothers. Lynda Obst is a producer and Ann Druyan is as well. The next steps will be getting a star and director attached.

S&F: How long did it take you to write it?

ZD: From pitch to draft to second draft and revisions, it was a little over a year. We did a lot of research and travel, and the people involved were wonderful. I talked to a lot of people in the Defense Department and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and I spent time with a lot of the scientists there. I got to see the signals coming from Voyagers I and II in deep space.

S&F: What was that like?

ZD: The signals come through in an amazing, big control room where they are tracking every unmanned spacecraft. It’s pretty cool. A lot of the senior scientists there were people who came up under Carl in the ’70s and ’80s, and they revere him.

S&F: Did you talk to any of them about why certain tracks were included on the Golden Record and why others were excluded?

ZD: We did talk a lot about what was put on the record and why. There was a lot of controversy surrounding those decisions. There is a really wonderful moment in the film where the team is picking examples of architecture to include on the record, and a lot of buildings had to be ruled out because much of the world’s most magnificent architecture are religious buildings, but they did not want to highlight one religion over another to send into space. So in the end they chose to include the Taj Mahal because it was built in the name of love and not in the honor of a god.

And below is the recording that aliens may one day find.....

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Staff member
Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions.
That's how I plan to go out.

And that's just one of the reasons why Carl Sagan is one of my heroes.

Excellent work, Doc. Thank you. And thank you as well, duzit.

Doctor Omega

Carl Sagan saw today’s ‘demon-haunted’ America coming over 20 years ago

‘This may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness’


The late Carl Sagan was a celebrated astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, TV narrator and best-selling author.

We might want to add soothsayer to the list.

‘I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or my grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantative content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.’

That’s the beginning of a chilling excerpt from Sagan’s 1995 book, “The Demon-Haunted World,” which was dug up and splashed across social media this week.

Why is this popping up 22 years later?

The page was posted on Wednesday on Reddit, where it quickly struck a chord and went viral, garnering almost 5,000 comments.

There was another passage that emerged as the internet took a fresh look at the book. This one actually might resonate even more, depending on one’s political leanings:

"Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." - Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World, page 241.



Doctor Omega

“Cosmos” Returning For A Second Season


Four years after the first season aired in 2014, The National Geographic Channel and Fox have ordered a second season of its revival of the science documentary television series “Cosmos”.

Neil deGrasse Tyson returns as host of the series, Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and collaborator Steven Soter return to write and direct, and Seth MacFarlane, Brannon Braga, and Jason Clark are back as executive producers. The new season, dubbed “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” is slated to premiere Spring 2019.

The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday. The first season of the revival become the most-watched series on National Geographic, with 135 million viewers worldwide.