April 4, 2020

Upon a Sea of Stars by A. Bertram Chandler

A scifi classic!

Don’t mess with John Grimes, and don’t ever dare to call him a pirate. He prefers the term privateer, thank you very much. This week, we take a look at the very latest collection of tales of the Galactic Outer Rim by A. Bertram Chandler, collected in one volume for the first time.

We’re quickly getting addicted to this swashbuckling golden age of sci-fi saga, that’s for sure. Written back in the 1960’s and 70’s, the Grimes saga harkens back to an age where, in the words of the late great Douglas Adams; “…little furry green creatures from Alpha Centauri were real little furry green creatures from Alpha Centauri.”

It’s great that Baen Books has brought these novels back to life. Fans of the Grimes saga and this space will recall our review of First Command, Galactic Courier, and Ride the Star Winds , also compiled and brought back to life by Baen Books.

Upon a Sea of Stars collects together four John Grimes novels under one cover, for the first time. Grimes is an old hand and sure-fisted action figure to have at your side, whether its on an alien sea, in alternate dimensions, or in the depths of space. And heck, we just think this book five in the saga has the best cover artwork yet; its John Grimes personified!

In Into an Alternate Universe, Grimes, Sonya and crew find themselves thrust into an alternate dimension. This bleak plane isn’t as empty as it seems, however, as a vast graveyard of ships crisscrossing time and space is uncovered. We especially liked this one as it strikes at the “tall tales of deep space” motif.

In Contraband from Otherspace, Grimes is back in our own plane of existence with a new ship, new crew, and new cargo. None of this, of course, is to his liking. Grimes refers to his new ship as “taut,” — read that as by the regulations tight —and his passengers members of an obscure religious sect.

In The Rim Gods, we get Grimes back out into his natural element: the bizarre and often curious planets of the outer rim. Expect to visit some old stomping grounds, as well as a few new ones along the way!

And finally, in The Commodore of the Sea, we see a Grimes that is casting off in an environment that is both at once strange and familiar: the ocean of an alien world.  It’s strange to think that you can travel thousands of light years across the galaxy, and yet still find yourself marooned once you get there, having to traverse a relatively short planetary distance by foot or cast adrift on a boat.

These books are a fascinating read and represent the kinds of sci-fi that might be light on big ideas, but are just fun to breeze through. We’ll definitely have to pick up book one in the saga, To the Galactic Rim, to make our expertise on the tales of John Grimes and the Galactic Rim Worlds complete!

Next week: its back to true tales of science and history with a look at Faraday, Maxwell and the Electromagnetic Field by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon… expect paradigm-shifting discoveries ahead!

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