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I am today announcing the publication of Pioneer, a science fiction book I first wrote back in 1982 that has languished in my files now for more than three decades. As I note in the introduction,

It was never published because at the time I could not find an agent to market it to book publishers, and was then too naive and shy to attempt to do such things myself.

In viewing several recent science fiction movies, however, I was motivated to pull the final draft of Pioneer from my files, wondering if it might be marketable. I hadn’t read it in decades, and had literally forgotten the story. I started reading expecting a typical first novel, somewhat incoherent and emotionally immature.

Instead I was quite surprised and enthralled. I couldn’t put the book down. Moreover, I was astonished at the coherence of the story and characters. “This is a good book!” I exclaimed to my wife Diane. Nor am I bragging when I say this, since the person who wrote it is someone from many decades ago and who essentially no longer exists.

Thus, I decided it was time to get Pioneer published, especially since this is now a very easy thing to do, no longer requiring either an agent or a book publisher.

The press release announcing the book’s publication provides the story’s premise:

The year is 2183. Fifty-six-year-old Saunders Maxwell is a stubborn old space-farer who has spent his entire life in space. He has commanded the Moon-Mars shuttle and led exploration missions beyond Mars. Later he turned to asteroid mining, captaining a small ship and crew on repeated trips to the asteroid belt, bringing back minerals or even small asteroids to sell so that the Mars colony could harvest them for the needed resources.

As he and his pilot Harry Nickerson fly over the vast slopes of the giant volcano Olympus Mons on their way home from one such mining mission, Maxwell spots a strange glint below, a glint that is not natural and should not be there.

When they land they discover something entirely unexpected and impossible, the body of man who had disappeared on a distant asteroid almost a half century before. Sanford Addiono had been on one of the first manned missions to the asteroid belt when he and a partner had vanished. Nothing was ever heard from them again. Even more baffling, two later missions to that asteroid found that it had disappeared as well, no longer in orbit where it was supposed to be.

Now, 46 years later, Maxwell finds Addiono’s body on the surface of Mars. How Addiono had gotten to Mars from a distant lost asteroid–without a spaceship–was baffling.

That riddle was magnified by what Addiono had brought back with him. Among his effects was a six-fingered robot hand that had clearly been made by some alien civilization, along with a recorder and memo book describing what Addiono had seen.

Here was a mystery that would rock humanity, the first alien contact. And at that moment Saunders Maxwell decides that he is going to be the person to solve that mystery, even if it 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.

The ebook is available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors. Or you can purchase it here, where I will get a slightly higher percentage of earnings.

I hope my kind readers will be intrigued enough to buy it. Despite being written in the early 1980s, it remains timely, accurately predicting what I think the future solar system will be like, two hundred years hence. More important, its a darn good read, easily worth an afternoon of time.



  • jburn

    just downloaded, and look forward to reading it.

  • Thank you! Please feel free to post a review on amazon.

  • ken anthony

    While I agree that colonists will be shaped by their environment, initial colonies will be harsh places, doesn’t have to be so. I see a lot of self fulfilling prophesy in this. Send people with the right attitude and skills and no busybodies telling them what they can’t do and luxury follows.

    I know I will enjoy your three part book!

  • ken anthony

    fired ny retros typo?

  • ken anthony

    “And mere might this asteroid be?” Where? …and I’m the diabetic with retinopathy. A great book BTW.

  • ken anthony

    “Then my did she ask you?” Why? Am I being annoying or helpful? How much did you pay your editor?

    Nice mystery to puzzle.

  • ken anthony

    That’s not mat you want? What? I’m thinking love interest? Bob, I can’t stop!

  • Ken Anthony: Please stop. The errors you are finding are from the scan from the old typed version into pdf, and then transferred by me into a digital file. I went through it with a fine tooth comb twice. My wife read it as well. We thought we caught them all. Obviously we didn’t. The main problem was the software misreading “w” for “m”.

    It won’t help me if you post such comments continually here. Email me instead. I will see if these can be fixed.

  • ken anthony

    I stopped. Read past a few more. Reading part two and enjoying the ‘hell’ out of it. Will send you an email in two days. I have to go out of town tomorrow. Everybody else… buy this book. It’s great.

  • ken anthony: Thank you. Feel free to post a review on amazon and elsewhere.

  • ken anthony

    Posted review on Amazon which should show up shortly. Although I can’t find your email addr? About ten more items found. BTW, it’s not surprising you missed them because as the author, whether you realize it or not, the entire story is recorded in your memory so that when you proofread it your author brain will naturally auto-correct so you can’t even see them. It happens to every author. As soon as I find your email I’ll send it along.

  • Started reading it last night.

    What a fun start: Mr. Maxwell is a bit put out at all the development in the last few years because an overcrowded customs area at Mars reminds him of the good ol’ days when you could land anywhere you wanted. And I know better than to ask him what he thinks about those dreary clerks running customs.

    Looking forward to reading the whole thing.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Bought via the link that pays you more. Thanks.

  • ken anthony

    Thanks Hunter, email sent.

  • Posted to Amazon Oct. 6, 2017

    Robert Zimmerman’s “Pioneer” is somewhat remarkable – particularly as a one-off science fiction novel written 35 years ago and never previously published. We all know Zimmerman as a seasoned space historian, but here we see he could also look to the future, and with 35 years to have failed, the story stands up without any notable “groaners”. And, it IS a can’t-put-down-page-turner in itself.

    The story is both innovative and familiar. The innovative notions are for the reader to encounter. The over-arch of empty spaces to Willa Cather, and book title, is a nicely inspired atmosphere-setting touch. The familiar, for me, are Homer Hickam’s “Back to the Moon” and Arthur Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama”, and the characters are predominantly the straight-shooting heroes/heroines that populate Robert Heinlein’s many novels.

    Well done Mr. Zimmerman.

  • Bernie Hutchins: Thank you for the kind words. They are truly appreciated.

  • Mike

    I am about 50% complete. I am enjoying the book very much. Mood of book reminds me of “firefly”. Pioneer the book on acid could have become “Red Dwarf”

  • Mike: Interesting comparisons. Feel free to post a review on amazon when you finish it.

  • wayne

    I’d like to hear more!

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