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Publisher's Summary

"FASCINATING . . . MEMORABLE . . . REVEALING . . . PERHAPS THE BEST OF CARL SAGAN''S BOOKS." --The Washington Post Book World (front page review)

In Cosmos, the late astronomer Carl Sagan cast his gaze over the magnificent mystery of the Universe and made it accessible to millions of people around the world. Now in this stunning sequel, Carl Sagan completes his revolutionary journey through space and time.

Future generations will look back on our epoch as the time when the human race finally broke into a radically new frontier--space. In Pale Blue Dot Sagan traces the spellbinding history of our launch into the cosmos and assesses the future that looms before us as we move out into our own solar system and on to distant galaxies beyond. The exploration and eventual settlement of other worlds is neither a fantasy nor luxury, insists Sagan, but rather a necessary condition for the survival of the human race.

"TAKES READERS FAR BEYOND Cosmos . . . Sagan sees humanity''s future in the stars." --Chicago Tribune

Introductory music from the original score for COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey composed by Alan Silvestri, used with permission from Cosmos Studios, Inc. and Chappers Music. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Fuzzy Planets, Inc.

©1994 Carl Sagan (P)2017 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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  • JR
  • 05-30-17

Audio Quality Choices

I love this book. I shouldn't have to tell you of its grandeur and importance. I have total respect for Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan; I am ever thankful for their work. This review is souly regarding the recently released Audible edition.
I understand the thinking behind releasing a new digital conversion of the original masters, as they are now, with silences contained within the degraded tapes. But, I would have much preferred the previous audio book release sound files, lower fidelity as it may be, to have been spliced in where there is silence. In this release, entire paragraphs are unintelligible from the tape degradation.
Also, the sections where Ann Druyan narrates have a very noticeable and distracting noise gate. Her performance is wonderful, but the background hiss pops in when she speaks and pops out when she stops. My amateur home studio has a better noise to signal ratio than this recording, and even still, leaving the gate off with the background hiss playing continuously would have been less distracting.
I am not sure why the previously released audio book version is not able to be purchased, whether it's due to copyright or licensing or some other absurd reason. That is the version I would like to get my hands on.
All that being said, I do not regret purchasing this, as it supports Druyan and the Sagan estate, but I don't think I will be using it much. I hope at some point a good copy of the first release is found and sold once again.

43 of 43 people found this review helpful

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It's Carl and Annie!!!! What a treasure!!

When does an unabridged audiobook come out for the first time 20 years after its author has died using the author's narrative voice? It's almost unheard of in the audiobook world, and yet in this case it happened. And it's not just any author--it's none other than the greatest popularizer of science of the 20th century---Carl Sagan.
"Pale Blue Dot" was the only book Carl ever did an audio recording of before his untimely death in 1996. It was an abridged version on audiocassette, now long out-of-print.
Now, his four decades-long co-writer, "Cosmos" collaborator, love of his life, and surviving wife Annie Druyan has found Carl's original master recordings of his voice and has filled in to make the first unabridged recording of this book---a book long famous for the soliloquy-excerpt bearing the same name, now deservedly a part of modern pop science culture. "Consider again that dot." I always will, Carl. Thank you for this, Annie! Thank you, Carl. You are proof that, although life isn't fair, good things sometimes happen to deserving, good people.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible audio quality

I can hear bad artifacts. It's a shame because Carl Sagan's narration of this book is one of the most compelling things I have heard (I have another version of this recordinb that doesn't have terrible artifacts). There's like a loud hissing sound during most syllables.

I even set it to "high quality" mode and it is still very bad.

This book is amazing, but hearing Carl Sagan narrate it (without terrible compression artifacts) is even more powerful. I am literally moved to tears during many parts of this book. But not with this terrible audio quality.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

not much sagan

Just so you know, only the first four chapters are narrated by sagan. The rest of the 18 chapters are done by his wife. So if you want this for sagan's sultry voice understand there is not much of him in it. I enjoyed the parts where sagan is talking, but just tuned out when it wasn't him. They tried to restore this from an old audio book master, but it was damaged. I don't know how they couldn't find someone out there with a good copy.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • Little Rock, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 06-13-17

A Classic, but...

Carl Sagan was a great in popularizing science, making astronomy and physics engaging, entertaining and charming. The book as a whole is great and Sagan's narration is so good, because he narrates like he's in conversation. Unfortunately, the original masters were damaged so Sagan doesn't do the whole book. His partner Ann Druyan narrates the remaining chapters. It not really unlistenable but Druyan's voice is thin and at times uneven, going from normal time to a whisper.
It a good, inspiring listen partly hobbled by uneven narration.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book.

Where does Pale Blue Dot rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The original master tapes were irrecoverable for about half the book. Instead of inviting someone with distinctive voice to blend with Carl Sagan's (he narrates the first half), his wife read the rest. She may be brilliant in her own right, but her voice, in an attempt to convey the wonder the book inspires, is set in a soporific whisper. It's as if my grandmother has returned to read me to sleep with her frail, but sweet voice.

What did you like best about this story?

Carl Sagan was a master at communicating the wonders of the cosmos. He is an example of the amazing potential that humanity possesses, if we could only realize it.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan ?

Carl Sagan, yes. Ann Druyan, only if it's the only way to listen to a Carl Sagan book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Carl Sagan is a wordsmith. I get tearful every time I listen to him recite the Pale Blue Dot monologue. "It's the only home we've ever known."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I love them both, but...

I would rather have the degraded recordings with all of Carl's narration. This is bittersweet. I can't help but appreciate all the passion and hard work that went into this audio book, but the final chapters are what I have listened to in order to help me sleep. Carl's voice is a panacea to my insomnia. The absense of his voice in the last chapters of this revised audio book is heart breaking. Annie has done a swell job, and she honors his memory by continuing to carry the fire for another generation to behold. I just need the original version.

Edit: It's very well done and now that I'm not exhausted I can appreciate the work done to restore it. Ann has done very well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Carl Sagan.

Any additional comments?

This is Carl Sagan, reading his own words. A time capsule. What could not be recovered from his original reading is loving read by his wife and partner, Ann, with such passion it almost hurts. Carl Sagan is unparalleled in his ability to inform while inviting you to explore the possibilities and wind through your own imagination. Many have tried to emulate his works, with limited success. If you want to learns facts while begin talked down to, grab a Neil DeGrasse Tyson book. If you want to have your hand taken by someone who wants you to know, and who wants you to think outside of the box, all the while guiding you on an exploration beyond your wildest dreams, listen to the master: Carl Sagan. You will not be disappointed.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorite books

Any additional comments?

I have a long history with this book. It was probably the first non fiction book I bought (15+ years ago, back during the original picture filled printing). It was after reading this book that I moved away from an adherence to a fundamentalist version of Christianity. This book was partly responsible for my passion for astronomy. This might also be my all time favorite book. So when I saw this was being released on audiobook, it was a day one purchase.

As for the audio you only get Sagan’s voice for only the first 4 chapters (about 2.5-3 hours) and then the next 10+ hours is the Druyan new recording. Druyan does a good job, but I really wish they could have used more of Sagan. There was an unabridged Pale Blue Dot recording where Sagan did the first 4 chapters, all chapter introductions, occasional sections of other chapters and most (if not all of) the final chapters. I really wish they were able to use those parts, but apparently the masters degraded too much to be used (honestly I would have been happy had they just used a cassette copy if it meant more Sagan).

As for the book itself, the books spends time talking about (1) astronomy, its history, the planets and the voyager probes, (2) philosophy, religion, climate change and mankind, and (3) the future of space exploration.

The astronomy part was very informative and well done, but by now it’s getting a little dated. He also talks a bunch about future NASA missions, many of which are taking place now (such as new horizons). Much of the information is still relevant and very interesting, such as how they discovered the conditions on Venus and how different it was from previous expectations, or the various history lessons such as how we got from the geocentric mindset to realizing just how vast the cosmos is. The parts of the future of space exploration were a little speculative but fun and entertaining.

The religious / philosophical parts are probably where some could find this book offensive (these are also the only parts narrated by Sagan), unlike some other atheist/agnostic authors, he doesn't just attack religion, but from his perspective the huge vastness of space makes it very hard for him to believe that there is a deity which is concerned with an individual species (or a religious subset of that species). He has some pretty great parts about how rare life is in our solar system, so far it's only been confirmed on one planet, and so we should cherish, accept one another and take care of the planet. These are also the first 4 chapters and could be skipped (although I think they should be listened to at least once).

Overall I'm glad that I listened to this book again; it's as great as I remembered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 01-11-18

Died too soon

Pale Blue Dot is a popular science book which deals with the solar system while also reflecting on some of the big issues concerning humanity’s place in the cosmos.

The big problem with this book is that it is now so old. A lot has changed since it was written in 1994, and while listening I was wishing that Carl Sagan was still around to update us about the latest astronomical discoveries. Unfortunately he died at the relatively young age of 62.

Nevertheless, it’s a good listen, and I learnt a lot about the planets, moons and asteroids whizzing around in our neighbourhood. Sagan was years ahead of his time and he discusses climate change as if it were as well-established and accepted as it is today (by most reasonable, educated people, that is!) as part of a mature consideration of the fate of Earth and the threat posed to it by human activity. With typical wisdom and foresight he discusses the possibility that the nuclear arsenal could get into the hands of a madman, a situation with a nasty ring of truth to it today.

One bonus you get at the beginning of this book is that the first couple of chapters are read by Sagan himself. He initially recorded the whole book, but the remainder of the tapes were lost or damaged, and so the rest are narrated by his wife Ann Druyan. She does a pretty good job, but her voice really reminds me of Marge Simpson, lending a slightly comedic air to the listening experience - but Marge Simpson has a kind of wisdom about her and so it all works out pretty well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Stanley Hopea
  • 06-14-17

Wanderful :)

Any additional comments?

For wanderers everywhere: Pale Blue Dot is, for me, an essential, magical and thought-provoking experience.

I had read Pale Blue Dot before, and loved it. I was delighted when I learned this audiobook was in the works again. Having finished it, this version has exceeded my, frankly, stellar expectations.

As other reviewers have noted, the opening chapters are Carl Sagan's original recording - remastered. The rest is then read by Ann Druyan. Personally, I thought both parts are a fitting reflection of their partnership - exploring and connected through space and time. Ann, in my opinion, does a beautiful job.

For the unfamiliar, the book is named in reference to the image of the Earth, captured by Voyager 1, then 6 billion miles away on Valentines Day, 1990. The story behind the picture, and the 4 ships humans had then sent to the stars is hugely moving. Just one example of the brilliant storytelling throughout.

Like the image itself: the nuance and depth of the perspective in this book is powerful and inspiring. A perspective we may be gaining just in time.

I'd have liked to have listened to it whilst stargazing. The chapters take you beyond any darkness, to beautiful points of intellectual and, subtly, almost spiritual light, again and again.

I would recommend it for anyone interested in how our humanity can keep up with our technology. Also for anybody concerned with exploring other worlds and/or our doing right by this one, and all the Earth's inhabitants.

Thank you Ann, and all involved, for re-making this. Thank you for helping wanderers out there from all meridians to make the many crossings, as we find our way...

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • D. M. York
  • 09-26-17

Wonderful, but just not enough Carl

It must first be said, there is a distinct and woeful absence of Carl Sagan in the narration of this book. Whilst the details indicate that it is jointly narrated by both Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Carl only narrates four short chapters at the very beginning of the book and after that the remaining 85% is narrated by Ann. Not that I can be critical of Ann Druyan who conducts the narration with a great deal of grace, though she is no substitute for the great Carl Sagan. Though if you have ever heard Carl Sagan speaking you realise that he speaks with a great deal of awe and even reverence about science and this is something that comes across with Ann. That being said, she would not be my first and most obvious choice as a narrator for this book. Her voice occasionally sounds tired, though she is always clear in what she says so I cannot raise much fault. I was disappointed that there was so little of Carl to this book.

The book itself mostly focuses upon the science of astrophysics and the attempts to discover more and understand more about the universe that surrounds us. If you have read Cosmos by Sagan you will find that many sections are repeated here, though the book is a quite glorious introduction and study of space about us and the issues we face in trying to understand it. The book makes numerous points about the lack of funding for space exploration, which when costed properly is only a small fraction of what is paid in defence budgets.

If you have an interest in science and astrophysics you will enjoy this book greatly, especially in later chapters as it hypothesises about how humanity will take to exploring the solar system and access the resources it has to offer.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amit Shah
  • 03-18-18

Inspiring!

Some points are stretched out, but expected from an old book. Carl Sagan is brilliant and his wife does her best to read his words in the latter half since he died before he finished recording the vocals. Easy to see how such wonderfully crafted words inspired the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Let's hope that Elon Musk and spaceX can continue the inspiration of apollo to the next generation of humanity!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Stacy
  • 05-30-17

Love this book, but...

Would you consider the audio edition of Pale Blue Dot to be better than the print version?

First let me start by saying I have the book, and an audio version of the book I downloaded a couple years ago. Now as Ann Druyan has stated in the beginning of the audio book that she got the masters and some where degraded. From the audio book version I downloaded you can hear Carl's voice in every chapter, with some chapters having bits filled by another person as well as a distinct humm at times. However, id say that version has around 85-90% of it read by Carl Sagan. Now it must be said I have nothing against Ann Druyan, I have high respect for her but her voice is not Carl Sagan and its his voice you want this book for.

So before you buy consider that whilst its an amazing life changing book with anyone reading, Carl's voice only narrates the first 4 Chapters, from then on its Ann Druyan.

I am a little disappointed since the downloaded version I have before the audible release features the majority of Carl's voice even if not perfect quality. I was hoping they would of took those and cleared them up and featured only Ann Druyan in the spaces where another person filled the gaps for Carl.

Either way a great book, but just a heads up.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Pale Blue Dot?

You are here quote or section read from Carl in HQ.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Carl and Ann didn't, perfect reading.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no, takes time to digest and savour.

Any additional comments?

Still good for fans of Carl and this book is one of his greats for me.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah
  • 02-20-18

First Time Read and Disappointed

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Ann Druyan should not have narrated this. Although enthusiastic, it was a chore listening to her despite the wonderful content.

What did you like best about this story?

Carl Sagan's masterful piecing together of fact and wonder.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Not really. The first few chapters read by Carl Sagan were perfect but the takeover was painful.

Any additional comments?

Read Cosmos and stop there. This book needs to be re-recorded by another reader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Frahaan A. A. Hussain
  • 09-26-17

For all Wanderers and Wonderers

So great to hear Mr Sagan himself read his own work (mostly) in this wonderfully insightful book pondering our next steps into the star fields of time. At the end we can only come to the conclusion that to wander and ponder is in our nature and ultimately it will lead to our survival. We do indeed belong among the stars and we always have.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Damien H
  • 08-09-18

Awe inspiring!

Amazing book. Incredible to have Carl Sagan reading part of it, but having Ann Druyan read the rest is a fitting tribute. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David Johns
  • 12-18-17

A deeply thought provoking perception of the Earth

This book offers a profoundly moving point of view of the fragility and vulnerability of the Earth and a humbling look at the human condition and the clear and present danger of the blind arrogance with which we continue to allow our recklessly destructive actions to steer us towards our own demise. Yet though this depressing and deeply troubling truth there is still hope and optimism that it is not too late and the ability to change exists within us. These profound sentiments are beautifully communicated in the inimitable poetic expressions of Carl Sagan himself for many of the chapters of this book, though sadly the recordings of most were lost and as such have been narrated by his wife.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M. Bateman
  • 10-16-17

Disappointed

I have to say the narration by Carl Sagan's wife detracted from the whole experience for me - to the point where I had to put the book aside. It was like listening to someone tell a fairy story or was reading a bedtime tale to a child when in fact I wanted to be educated.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tautvydas
  • 08-31-18

Outdated

Brilliant topic but somewhat outdated. Would love to read same book written in the last few years.

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  • Luke Hicks
  • 05-28-18

Great story, average narration

I was expecting to hear more from Carl Sagan but instead had to endure mainly Ann Druyan. It’s a great story but her voice is grandma like and personally it wasn’t to my listening taste.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-25-18

Everything you would expect from Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. Brilliant and insightful.

More people need to listen to this book. A unique perspective on our fragile little world.

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  • Lyndon
  • 11-14-17

wonderful

it's always a joy to listen to Carl Sagan words - he was a legend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-27-17

The man

Carl Sagan... does one need to say anything more? It's also nice that his wife narrated the parts which were not able to be recovered

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  • Adam
  • 08-06-17

I'm sure I heard him yawn while talking

As much as I love Carl Sagan and everything cosmos I really struggled staying focused on his narration, it's like it was either really late at night or he just wasn't into it

0 of 2 people found this review helpful