Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Caving in Nevada

I finally have an hour free here in Nevada.

For the past three days we have been intensely hiking up mountains over a vast area of Nevada. The goal has been to locate and map caves for the Forest Service in some of the most remote areas of the state. So far we have focused on mapping known caves, putting the possible discoveries aside for later work.

Jason Knight and Anthony Smith

The hiking has been spectacular, though very exhausting. For example, one cave was located only about 3,500 feet from where we parked our cars. The problem was that it also was about 1,800 feet above us in elevation. Thus, we found ourselves going up hill at probably the steepest angle for any hike I have ever done. Plus, the cave was located at about 8.600 elevation, so you were doing this hiking at high elevation with its thin atmosphere. To top it off, much of the hike was up a scree slope, made up of loose pebbles and rocks that would slide down one foot for every foot you climbed. The only way to manage it was to focus on one step at a time, and take many rests.

To put it mildly, it was a slow trip, taking about two and a half hours just to reach the cave entrance.

The cave at the top was worth it, however. After a rappelling down a 40 foot pit, we entered a 600 foot long cave with many formations. The register in the cave showed that the last cavers to visit this remote place had been there in 2009, with the previous visitors from 2002.

Other caves were less challenging to reach, but also less interesting. In the picture on the right Jason Knight (with Anthony Smith to the left) is about to poke his head into a crack that ended up only going about two body lengths. We had been more hopeful the cave would go farther, but alas, that is how things go sometimes.

I’ll have more to say after I get back. Right now I have to go to down for breakfast before heading out again.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Tim

    And you used to complain about the steps at the Twelfth! Looks like fun!

  • Hi Tim,

    I don’t remember complaining about the steps at the Twelfth. What I remember was complaining about was the fact that it seemed to rain almost every Wednesday night, and that in the months of December, January, and February my gun would often not work because it was too damn cold! :)

    Say hi to all at the range. Both Diane and I miss you all.


Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *