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The Remake of "Cosmos"

An Open Letter to Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson
and others involved

Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV-series has shaped much of my life and commitment to space exploration. I was also fortunate to meet with Carl a few times. He always remembered me due to my original family name - Starlife - which I took after first watching his TV-series in the early 80's. So naturally, I was very happy to hear of the coming Cosmos remake. But at the same time, I truly hope it doesn't fail to live up to Carl's legacy...

For me, it wasn't the science facts which made Cosmos special. I knew most of it long before. Instead, it was Carl's personal "flavoring", his poetic language, his almost childish enthusiasm and philosophical approach...
It was also the way he linked the heavens and our quest for greater understanding with every Human activity throughout history, seeing the Big Picture. That made Cosmos stand out. He made science into art and poetry.
I recall sitting in front of the TV, sipping wine and dreaming myself away in a journey of scientific poetry that helped form my worldview more than anything else. It was better than both drugs and religion!

This was something new, and still today I have seen nothing quite like it. So my wish is that the new Cosmos stays true to this original style. Don't change the concept to fit current society - try to change current society!
It's so easy to loose that little extra which makes something unique. One of my old friends, Swedish electronic music pioneer Ralph Lundsten, said that everyone can be great sometime, but not all the time. Composers like Beethoven and Bach had their genial moments, but in daily life they were probably quite average. Carl Sagan was genial in Cosmos. He and his team put together something I feel he couldn't even repeat himself.

I even had mixed feelings about later versions of the original Cosmos series. For example, a makeover of the 8th episode (Travels in Space and Time), changed the background music during the scooter ride from classic Vivaldi music to some kind of digital space-age sound - to make it even more cosmic. But it wasn't Cosmos - just like Daniel Craig isn't James Bond, lacking the humor and easy-going style his predecessors had. So I now ask everyone involved: Please don't make the same mistake with Cosmos. Don't make it into a Stars Wars-like, special effects-saturated space adventure. Because then you'll only attract such fans, which is no meaning!

Hans Starlife, Sept. 2011.


Neil deGrasse Tyson's kind reply to Hans L.D.G. Starlife
(October 2011)

Dear Mr. Starlife

Thank you for your earnest testimony regarding the original Cosmos and what identity and features the new one might have. You raise several important points, each of which we have thought about deeply, and which I am happy to address below:

1) We are acutely aware of the most resonant and eternal elements of the original Cosmos series. You're exactly right: they were not derived from the encyclopedic information that it carried. They derived from Carl's likable living-room manner and the relationship that the viewer developed with the value and meaning of cosmic discovery - as explorers and as responsible citizens of planet Earth. We have no intentions of losing sight of this mission statement, lest we fail in our efforts to carry the Cosmos legacy forward.

2) The urge to require that visual vocabulary and music and scenes and special effects not vary from what so effectively influenced you, does not recognize that the needs of the now -- culturally, politically, economically, socially -- are not exactly the same as they were 31 years ago. That was a generation ago. So we will not hesitate to tap our collective awareness of society's current and emergent needs to ensure that the next Cosmos will have no less an impact on the next generation of viewers than the original Cosmos had on its cold-war,
pre-Reagan, pre-personal computer, pre-CableTV, pre-HD audience. So with regard to impact, our expectations will be that the next Cosmos will be no different from the original.

3) Apart from commercial breaks, in which the next Cosmos will differ from the original, you needn't fear that our scientific and creative principles will be compromised by any known force in the universe.

Thanks for your interest and your support.







Carl Sagan, Poetic Scientist










Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson,
host of the new 'Cosmos'




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