“She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl. I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.”

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.

“She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl. I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.”

From experience, I have learned who to trust in these confrontations over accusations of racism, and sadly nowadays it almost always is not the minority.


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will 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 paypal:

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  • Steve C

    On of the first lessons when I went into sales is not to judge a prospect by their clothes. Did judge a little by race, but black was not bad. They tended to be big spenders. I suspect that in Switzerland, Oprah would have been more likely discriminated against for being American than being black. That said, What is the deal with that bag?!! That thing looks like it should be hanging off the rear of a horse and they want $50,000?!!! Are rich people stupid? And that shopgirl. I’m sure as a clerk in an up-scale shop, she is quite experienced, but did she dress in the dark? That jacket reminds me of a green Naugahyde Laz-E-Boy I had in the 70’s. And she must have mugged a clown for the pants. ANd they make fun of the people at Walmart.

  • Edward

    I am still amazed that Oprah, who spends most of her time in the United States, couldn’t think of one time that she felt discriminated against here in this country (because everyone recognizes her here?). She had to go to Europe to get that feeling. Apparently, her other experience with discrimination occurred in Paris, not the US.

    I keep hearing that the US is such a racist country, but the examples of modern US racism just don’t seem to make sense. Then with reports like these, and the response linked in this posting, it seems that claims of racism may only be a misinterpretation of events.

    Perhaps I should start claiming that I have been stopped for “driving while white.” After all, the US Supreme Court ruled, circa 1974, that reverse discrimination is allowable in order to make up for generations of discrimination that had come before. A government sanctioned policy of discrimination – apartheid – does exist in the US.

    I am not quite certain why I should suffer from government sanctioned discrimination just because other people’s ancestors discriminated against some other groups of people.

    Or is it racist to complain about “social justice?”

  • wodun

    A lot of people made up their mind before hearing the cashier’s side of things, even Oprah. I don’t think Oprah understands how the label of racist ruins a person’s life and how it is used not to point out actual racist acts but to destroy a person’s reputation.

  • JGL

    I deal with black women every day and some do come with a preconceived expectation of being rejected by a white person that they are dealing with. Especially if that white person has some kind of authority to say no in the transaction. Actually, most initially have the expectation. I find that a smile and a little bit of conversation solves the problem most times. And then there are times, not very often, when the mountain can not be moved.

  • Having spent many summers in France it would be easy for an American of any race to feel discrimated against, simply on the basis of a language barrier. Most Americans can’t speak a bit of French or understand how to be polite. Maybe the issue is Oprah was upset the store clerk didn’t recognize her and immediately bow down to her worshipfulness. How stupid. I trust the store clerks account of things because too often people misunderstand communication, even when both communicators speak the same language fluently. I long ago dropped Oprah as a wise celebrity when she backed the senator from illinois’s campaign for the presidency. Lets be frank, she supported his campaign based simply on race. Like most African Americans did. As a white American, I’d vote for a black conservative any day, over a white liberal. That’s my logic.

  • Lois Johnson

    Looks like Oprah is looking for publicity

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