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.

Finally some substance in the Presidential campaign

Up until tonight I had not watched any of the Republican Presidential debates. To me, the game show formats of each debate were such that I had no expectation of seeing any substance. Quick one-liners and gotcha attacks — the only thing that generally comes from these formats — can’t tell me anything about the deeper philosophical underpinnings of each candidate. And without that knowledge I can have no idea whether or not the candidates will follow through with what they say they’ll do.

Tonight however I did watch the Herman Cain-Newt Gingrich debate, which CSPAN has made available to watch in its entirety. The format was basically Cain and Gingrich for an hour and a half, answering a variety of questions about the three big entitlement programs, Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Each man could essentially take as much time as he desired to say what he wanted.

Because Cain and Gingrich are both conservative, they actually didn’t debate very much. If anything, this event was a mutual admiration society. However, because of the lengthy format, they each had the time to speak their minds in great detail and depth. The result was a substantive discussion about the financial problems of all three of these entitlement programs, and how each man would attack the problem.

Both Cain and Gingrich talked at length about how the medical programs fail because they separate the buyer of the services from the provider, thereby encouraging fraud and out-of-control costs. Both also talked about how social security is bankrupt because the money taken from people for the program is controlled by the government, not they themselves. Moreover, Gingrich especially talked about the outright fraud of the federal government in grabbing that money for general expenses, when it was supposed to be held in a separate trust fund.

I found myself more impressed with Gingrich’s articulate approach to the issues. Cain didn’t seem to show as much depth, at least in how he discussed these issues. However, he very clearly demonstrated that he recognizes the problem today is the government, and that we won’t solve our problems if we keep asking the government for the solution.

Based on what I saw tonight, Gingrich appears to be the stronger of the two candidates. However, I would have no fear voting for either man. They might not do things right every time once in office, but both honestly recognize the seriousness of our problem, and seem unafraid to address it head on.

My biggest hope is that this format catches on, and we begin to see more such debates. Regardless, I strongly recommend that you take the time to watch this debate yourself. It is at times revealing, often entertaining, and sometimes quite humorous. Stay especially to the end, when each candidate gets a last chance to ask the other a question. Cain’s question to Gingrich brings the house down.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over

I cannot thank the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.

Thank you again!

Though the find-raising campaign is officially over, and I am no longer plastering the main page with requests for help, if you like what you have read you can still contribute, 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 paypal:

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


If Paypal doesn'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


  • jwing

    I loved Cain’s final question to Newt. You can see that it threw Newt completely off guard and he’s almost crying with laugher. Very extemporaneous is Cain…very real…very much what is needed inside the beltway. I also liked the initial hint the Cain suggested at the beginning of the debate. He hinted that they would make good running mates on the same ticket

  • it was great to watch and much different than the other debates . i also enjoyed listening to ron paul on fox news sunday , in the past sometimes i felt like the republicans and democrats were the same in ways but it seems this cycle there are some very different ideas and choices available . very interesting!

  • LINO

    When push comes to shove, you know you’re going to wind up with Romney, no matter how much you fantasize about these other guys.

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 *