The United States of winners

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.

“The United States of winners.”

We didn’t fight hard for our freedom on that summer day in 1776 so we could go ahead and be mediocre. We wanted it so badly because we had lofty goals to be a nation of winners, people who excelled at everything we tried. We wanted to become powerful and prosperous so that we wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else, ever again. And we knew that being prosperous would make us generous. We wanted to win at that, too.

And from there, we went on to win at all kinds of stuff, and we did it without apologizing. Charles Lindbergh didn’t land in Paris and apologize for getting there first. We didn’t have a space race with the Soviet Union to see who could get there last. Bruce Jenner doesn’t have an Olympic gold medal (and two inexplicable earrings) because he’s a loser.

Our desire to win has made us who we are.

And it is for this reason that, right now, the United States is about to develop multiple private companies capable of putting humans into space, while every other country in the world that has tried it can barely manage to come up with one option.


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.


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  • Phil Berardelli

    Excellent point, Robert! The future of robotic spaceflight will remain with NASA for the foreseeable future, building on the successes of the Hubble, the Mars rovers, Cassini, MESSENGER, Dawn, and many other probes. But the future of manned spaceflight now rests with the ingenuity of private individuals. It couldn’t be in better hands.

  • Bill Blomberg

    Right on. We really are on the verge of an exciting and defining era of space development, and the United States will be the forerunner and the inspiration for others that follow. In this way we are fulfilling our nation’s purpose, and bringing all the prosperity and progress that our founders could have hoped for.

  • Gary Menard

    Thanks Robert,
    After last week, the value of emotional and spiritual fuel like this blurb is incalcuable. Thank you.

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