Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
"Are there intelligent civilizations in this universe other than ours?" One day I had a conversation with Vlad, and this is our story.
"Are there intelligent civilizations in this universe other than ours?" One day I had a conversation with Vlad, and this is our story.
1,054 backers pledged $54,485 to help bring this project to life.

About

VLAD THE ASTROPHYSICIST — An Illustrated Book for Old Souls project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$54,485

1,054

THIS ALL STARTED WITH TWO SIMPLE QUESTIONS.

Vlad the Astrophysicist is a real person: Dr. Vladimir Chaloupka, physics professor at the University of Washington. I met him at the National Youth Science Camp in Bartow, West Virginia, where I have been playing every summer for sixteen years.

And I really did ask Vlad "Are there intelligent civilizations out there other than ours, and if so why haven't they contacted us?" And he really did answer, and my whole world-view was altered in that moment — I was, looking up at the stars, changed.

As it was happening, the writer in me knew I owed it to myself, and maybe to the rest of the world, to capture this story and pass it along. So I framed it as a spoken-word piece, and wrote music to go underneath. I put it out on my "Letters from a Flying Machine" record, I've been performing it ever since, including one performance at TEDxKC

And one performance that has had a startling life on YouTube:

Seven years later, the story is still living, and finding a place in the world. 

Window Illustration
Window Illustration

Peter Nevins's artwork is perfect for this book. The tactile, human touch of his linocut art grounds the high-flown intellectualism of the story with heart and bodily sense. I'm beyond grateful to know him and his work. You can find it on Anais Mitchell's records, you can find it on Gillian Welch's posters, you can find it on the marquee of the New York Theater Workshop production of Hadestown... and it's my sincere hope that this book brings his beautiful art to tens of thousands of eyes and hands.

Globe Illustration
Globe Illustration

 

Niece Illustration
Niece Illustration

 

Fourth of December Illustration
Fourth of December Illustration

Blooming Twig is run by my friend Kent Gustavson, himself a TEDx speaker, and a songwriter and storyteller. He saw me play when he was a teenager, and when he called and asked if I was interested in his company putting this book out, I knew we were on to something very promising. His publishing company believes in 'books that matter' and 'intelligent children's books', and he believes this project is in both categories.

Also, I'm just plain psyched that there's a Vlad T-shirt:

Finally, it means so much to me that this book can bring some attention to the National Youth Science Foundation. I have met, over the sixteen years I've played at the NYSC, close to two thousand extraordinary young people. Every time I'm there, my worry about the future evaporates. These young men and women are open, curious, kind, smarter than your average bear, and deeply enthused about creating a better world, just because. Every time I'm driving away from the camp with a new year of memories, I find myself thinking "We are going to be all right. We have a real chance to survive and prosper as a sustainable, ethical, even, dare I say it, a kind and beautiful species." 

This book has been years in the making. It's been a labor of love for me, and I truly hope you enjoy it and read it to yourself, and to your children, nieces, nephews, and students. 

 

Risks and challenges

We need your help. If we get the book into enough hands, and by extension hearts and minds, we can make a real difference in the minds of kids, and with this work, ripples will go out. If you read this book with your kids, pass it along to another family, a school library, or anyone else, you will be passing on the spark that Vlad passed along to me. That is the goal of our Kickstarter.

The book has already been written, illustrated, and will be published by Blooming Twig. Our challenge is to get it to every "old soul" we can, whether kids, parents, teachers, astrophysicists, songwriters, or the media. That will be our job, but we need feet on the ground to support this mission, and if you pre-order a copy of the book through this campaign or choose any of the other levels of support, you will be part of this team, spreading the spark of this story, in hopes of reaching as many people as possible. Let's show the world that when an astrophysicist and a folksinger meet, it can be a powerful moment.

One final goal of ours is to make a new video of "Vlad the Astrophysicist" that has the original music, a new audio of the whole story, and the beautiful pictures by Peter Nevins. It will be available in full length online. We want as many people as possible to read, listen, and think about intelligent life and the universe. The video should arrive just as the campaign closes, and we would love you to share it far and wide. Are you with us?

We need your help to make this movement a success. It's been my lifelong pleasure to work with artists of all kinds, and Peter Nevins is one of the greatest. Blooming Twig has a wonderful mission, and the National Youth Science Foundation is one of the most valuable organizations in the United States.

All of us believe that this story will awaken a sense of wonder, curiosity, and compassion in people who read it. And if you feel the same, please join this movement.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $3 or more About $3

    NEW TRACK

    An mp3 of the track "Vlad the Astrophysicist", updated and re-voiced by Peter Mulvey

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    11 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    JUST THE BOOK

    A hardcover copy of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both Peter Nevins, the illustrator, and Peter Mulvey, the writer. Includes an mp3 of the text of the book, spoken over music composed by Peter Mulvey

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    240 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    BOOK + CD + NEW TRACK

    One copy of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both Peter Mulvey and Peter Nevins, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad the Astrophysicist".

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    329 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    BOOK + POSTER

    A copy of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a 12" x 18" poster of one of the artworks by Peter Nevins.

    You will be asked which poster you want after the Kickstarter closes.

    Artwork Choices:
    Beer
    Globe
    Looking Up
    Plane
    Vlad
    Window

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    110 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    2 BOOKS + TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist" plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    46 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    2 BOOKS + CD + NEW TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    102 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    3 BOOKS + TRACK

    Three copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist" plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    3 BOOKS + CD + NEW TRACK

    Three copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    30 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    2 BOOKS + CD + T-SHIRT + NEW TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus a T-shirt with Vlad making the "pssst" gesture, plus the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    64 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    4 BOOKS + CD + NEW TRACK

    Four copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $105 or more About $105

    5 BOOKS + CD + NEW TRACK

    Five copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus a copy of the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    24 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    2 BOOKS + CD + NIECE PRINT + NEW TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus a framing quality one-color print of the "Niece" illustration (you can see it in the "Story" section of this Kickstarter) made from the original linocut, plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    2 BOOKS + CD + WINDOW PRINT + NEW TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus a framing quality two-color print of the "Window" illustration (you can see it in the "Story" section of this Kickstarter) made from the original linocut, plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 24 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    2 BOOKS + CD + GLOBE PRINT + NEW TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus a framing quality two-color print of the "Globe" illustration (you can see it in the "Story" section of this Kickstarter) made from the original linocut, plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 21 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    2 COPIES + DECEMBER PRINT + TRACK

    Two copies of "Vlad the Astrophysicist", signed by both artists, plus the CD "Letters from a Flying Machine", plus a framing quality two-color print of the "Fourth of December" illustration (you can see it in the "Story" section of this Kickstarter) made from the original linocut, plus an mp3 of the re-voiced "Vlad" track.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    GIFT A CLASSROOM 30 COPIES

    For those of you that are teachers, know a teacher, or know a classroom that you think would appreciate this book, here it is: thirty copies, priced just above cost. And yes, both artists will sign all thirty copies. Also includes 3 copies of the CD, a T-shirt for the teacher, a framing quality print of your choice, the new track, and a hand-written thank you note, to you and to the class, from Mr. Mulvey.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)