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.

Ennio Morricone – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

An evening pause: With yesterday’s evening pause in mind, here’s a classical orchestra showing us how they perform spaghetti western music.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over

I cannot thank the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.

Thank you again!

Though the find-raising campaign is officially over, and I am no longer plastering the main page with requests for help, if you like what you have read you can still contribute, 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:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

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


  • DDZ

    I like the Spaghetti Western Orchestra’s performance of spaghetti western music better than I like the concert orchestra’s performance. It seems to be a better fit.

  • PeterF

    sort of like drag racing in a Rolls Royce?

  • PeterF

    Sort of like drag racing in a Rolls Royce?

  • Edward

    At the risk of sounding like I am reviewing the music or some movies:

    Morricone’s music was used to great effect to keep audiences entertained during Sergio Leone’s long sequences in which little happened on screen. Leone did this in order to enhance suspense or to create other effects (e.g. in the movie “The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly,” he gave us a sense of sadness over the waste of life during the American Civil War). If it weren’t for the brilliance of Morricone, the images would not have had the same meaning, and the sequences would have had to be shortened, because the audience would want the film to move along, as in the other movies of the time. The combination of imagery and music heightened the audience experience, and that is why we so appreciate Leone’s brilliant movies. (In a way, I think that finding Morricone was the most brilliant move of Leone’s career.)

    Earlier, Hitchcock was able to do a similar 5-minute sequence in “north By Northwest” when Cary Grant’s character is waiting at a bus stop, but such imaginative filmmaking is rare. Together, Leone and Morricone were exceptional.

    All this is to say that it was the imagery that accompanied the music and the music that accompanied the imagery that were important. I think that the Spaghetti Western Orchestra understood this relationship and created new imagery to make the music come to life for us. The emotions that they elicit are different, but these enhanced emotions may be why some/many/most of us prefer their performance.

    On the other hand, the BBC Concert Orchestra, being a regular orchestra, heard only the music (still brilliant, but missing that special something).

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *