Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

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

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

Also available as an inexpensive ebook!

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Illinois officials have ordered an eleven-year-old to close her cupcake business that was earning her $200 a month.

We’re here to help you: Illinois officials have ordered an eleven-year-old to close her cupcake business that was earning her $200 a month.

“They called and said they were shutting us down,” said Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling.

According to the Post-Dispatch, health officials informed the Stirlings that they would have to “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have” for Chloe to continue selling cupcakes. “Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather said. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer. But a separate kitchen? Who can do that?” Chloe was charging $10 for a dozen cupcakes and $2 specialty cupcakes. “I’m saving for a bakery,” Chloe said in the piece that got her into trouble.

“The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health,” said health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager. “The guidelines apply to everyone. People will react how they choose to react. But it is our job.”

If this doesn’t illustrate why the rules are a bad idea in the first place, I don’t know what will. A free society allows for this kind of creative innovation, and also allows the possibility that maybe all cupcakes won’t be perfect.

Sadly, we don’t live in that free society any longer.

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.


  • ted

    If the bureaucrats are going to act like robots then maybe those are the jobs that should get automated the soonest.

    Who needs people if the “The rules are the rules.”

  • wodun

    This is pretty common and many states have exceptions for craft producers or local farmers. In WA, the problem is that there is a revenue limit on who can get exemptions, not profit. IIRC, it is $10k or lower.It makes it hard to get a business up and running and meet stricter requirements as you grow without taking on massive debt for a business that may not be that profitable.

    There are a couple things this girl could do. She could rent a commercial kitchen or see if one would let her use one for free. Many churches are required to have commercial kitchens but if they rent them out they can lose their nonprofit status. Building a commercial kitchen in your house can be rather expensive, maybe $100k. It isn’t just the cost of appliances but sinks, work surfaces, sanitation, and ease/access to clean ceilings and cupboards. An alternative is buying a food truck or trailer. They can be constructed to meet a variety of tasks and meet your local regulations. Also, very expensive for a high end truck, maybe $100k or more but you could possibly find a used one or have one built for about $20k.

    It has been a while since I ran the numbers but I think $20k is what you could expect to spend for the bare minimum. It the grand scheme of things, that isn’t much for starting a business but it is also out of range for a lot of people, especially little girls. The girl could write a business plan and apply for a loan through the SBA.

  • Carol

    Paula Dean got her start making dishes out of her home….Don’t give up, just do more research… Keep your Dream alive…

  • Edward

    Aren’t we glad that Mrs. Fields didn’t run into such trouble? Or the innumerable companies that were started in garages?

  • Nana Brown

    Sadly, you are 100% right that we no longer live in a free society. We USED to, however that’s in our past. My youth was far different than what my 3 year old granddaughter will face. The United States of my past unfortunately, no longer exists. We are now a society that has been dumbed-down and softened which is no longer recognizable to me.

  • Wikipedia informs that Troy , IL is a town of only 10,000 souls, so commercial kitchens may be hard to come by. In Portland many food cart operators co-habit commercial kitchens with others to spread the cost, but this probably isn’t a viable option where this girl lives, unless her parents will drive her to St. Louis.

  • Bob

    Many small farmers are slammed with these kind of “protecting the public” rules that are really just laws written to protect large businesses from any competition—even as small as a girl baking cupcakes. Just look at the raw milk farms that get raided for selling a healthy product to a public that is asking for it. Large dairy concerns don’t want anyone moving into their territory or revealing to the public that their products are junk.

  • Scott

    The solution is simple: Donate a portion of the cupcake proceeds to the Democrat Party. Case closed.

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