by Robert Zimmerman


by Robert Zimmerman

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The time is 2183. Fifty-six-year-old Saunders Maxwell is a stubborn old space-farer who has spent his entire life in space. He has captained the Moon-Mars shuttle and led exploration missions beyond Mars. When he came to Mars in his forties he helped discover the water source that made the first American Mars colony possible.

Later he turned to asteroid mining, captaining a small ship and crew of about a half dozen on repeated trips to the asteroid belt, bringing back minerals or even small asteroids so that the Mars colony could harvest them for the needed resources.

Having just returned from one such four year mission, he and his pilot Harry Nickerson are heading back to Mars when, as they fly over the vast slopes of the giant volcano Olympus Mons, Maxwell spots this strange glint below, a glint that is not natural and should not be there.

When they land they discover something entirely unexpected and impossible, the body of man who had disappeared on a distant asteroid almost a half century before. Sanford Addiono had been on one of the first manned missions to the asteroid belt when he and a partner had vanished. Nothing was ever heard from them again. Even more baffling, two later missions to the asteroid from which they had been lost found that it was gone as well, no longer in orbit where it was supposed to be.

Now, 46 years later, Maxwell finds Addiono's body on the surface of Mars. How Addiono had gotten to Mars from a distant now-lost asteroid orbiting beyond Mars–without a spaceship–was a riddle that almost defied an answer.

That riddle was magnified exponentially by what Addiono had brought back with him. Among his effects was a six-fingered robot hand that had clearly been made by some alien civilization, along with a recorder and memo book describing what Addiono had seen.

Here was a mystery that would rock humanity, the first alien contact. And at that moment Saunders Maxwell decides that he is going to be the person to solve that mystery, even if it takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

Not that it matters. Saunders Maxwell is a typical human, and for humanity, the journey itself is really all that matters.

So now I stand on earthside shore,
And wonder what I am.
I must go out and find my home.
The journey's what I am.

O Pioneer! O Pioneer!
Where do you go from here?
O Pioneer! O Pioneer!
The stars are far too near.

-A folksong of Mars and the Moon

Product Details

BN ID: 2940158941481
Publication date: 09/29/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
File size: 720 KB

About the Author

Robert Zimmerman is an award-winning science journalist and historian who has written five books and more than a hundred articles on science, engineering, and the history of space exploration and technology. He also reports on space and science news at his website, His newest book, THE UNIVERSE IN A MIRROR: THE SAGA OF THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE AND THE VISIONARIES WHO BUILT IT (Princeton University Press), tells the story of the people who conceived, built, and saved the Hubble Space Telescope. His first book, GENESIS, THE STORY OF APOLLO 8 (Mountain Lake Press)) describes the epic family and political tale behind the first manned mission to another world and is now available as an ebook. His other books include LEAVING EARTH: SPACE STATIONS, RIVAL SUPERPOWERS, AND THE QUEST FOR INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL (Joseph Henry Press), which was awarded the American Astronautical Society's Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award in 2003 as that year's best space history for the general public, and THE CHRONOLOGICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DISCOVERIES IN SPACE (Oryx Press), a detailed reference book describing what was accomplished on every single space mission, from October 1957 with Sputnik through December 1999.

His magazine and newspaper articles have appeared in ASTRONOMY, AIR & SPACE, SCIENCE, NATURAL HISTORY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY, WIRED, INVENTION & TECHNOLOGY and a host of other publications. In 2000 he was co-winner of the David N. Schramm Award, given by the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society for Science Journalism, for his essay in THE SCIENCES, "There She Blows," on the 35-year-old astronomical mystery of gamma ray bursts.

In addition to his writing, Mr. Zimmerman is also a cave explorer and cartographer, and has participated in numerous projects exploring and mapping previously unknown caves across the eastern United States. It is this activity that has allowed him to actually "go where no one has gone before," thus providing him a better understanding of the perspective of the future space explorers on Mars and beyond as they struggle to push the limits of human existence.
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