cover image The Voyager Record: A Transmission

The Voyager Record: A Transmission

Anthony Michael Morena. Rose Metal (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-941628-04-1

In his funny and conversational debut collection, Morena creates an ekphrastic ode on the subject of the “Golden Record”: an audiovisual time capsule intended to represent life on Earth to a potential alien audience, launched in 1977 on the Voyager space probes. Morena describes the contents, including a plaque depicting a man and a woman—sans genitals after public outcry—and science writer Ann Druyan’s brainwaves, recorded while she was thinking of her future husband, science educator Carl Sagan. Of the musical inclusions, Morena astutely wonders about lack of context—will Bach seem more modern than Chuck Berry?—before offering his own suggestions: Grandmaster Flash, Norwegian black metal, the Mos Eisley Cantina band. There is a running commentary of Morena’s “alien-like position of living in Israel and not being Jewish or Arab,” and plaintive fantasies about Voyager returning for him: “I want to go with you, and I never want to come back.” He imagines Voyager’s possible discoverers in numerous iterations: flaming aliens; earless aliens; a civilization that so reveres Voyager’s contents that they refashion their entire society, creating their own Voyager and launching it at Earth, where “We are confused when it returns to us, apparently untouched.” Like its subject, Morena’s transmission is a celebration of human achievement full of history, pop culture, jokes, and an intangible soulfulness—enchanting and educational at once. (May)