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.

Samara Ginsberg – Inspector Gadget for 8 cellos

An evening pause: Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

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.

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  • janyuary

    Poor fretless stringed orch critters such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, were really designed to play in groups, unlike pianos and guitars, whose natural habitats are acapella.

    What’s the dif between a fiddle and a violin?
    The same dif as between C# and Db!
    *laugh dammit*

  • Jay

    I enjoyed it and listened to her others as well. I thought the best one she did was the Airwolf theme.

  • Diane Wilson

    That was fun! I played cello for 10 years, growing up. I assume she knows about Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras. No. 1 is scored for 8 cellos! No. 5 for 8 cellos and soprano.

    @janyuary, solos and no frets – not a problem. As you learn the instrument, you begin to know where the notes are. You just know. I have trouble comprehending how to play with frets.

  • janyuary

    I always thought of cellos as junior basses, and violas as jumbo violins. I know the viola is tuned in fifths like the violin, and that for violin and double bass, the order of the strings is reversed, on the bass tuned in fourths, lowest is e, then a, then d then g as the highest, and that violin tuned in fifths is lowest g, next d, then a and e … tuned in fifths. I expect cellos, like basses, must be tuned in fourths, lowest to highest. It makes more sense. Cellos are beautiful things played well.

    Diane, I hope you still play or return to it … on a fretless orch critter, learning young it’s like riding a bicycle any age. You always remember how to play, it comes back quickly. Me, frets freak me out. You have to be smart to play an instrument with frets. I don’t think one has to be too bright to play an orch beast!

    The conductor of a well known city symphony once asked me if I knew the difference between a viola and a violin. Before I could frame a literate response, he answered his own question: “The viola takes longer to burn if you throw them both on a bonfire!”

    Ah, musicians humor …

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