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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.
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.