FFB: The Rim of Space

by A. Bertram Chandler, © 1961 (first published in story form 1959, in Astounding Science Fiction as “To Run the Rim”)
Avalon Books 1961 hardcover. Science Fiction, part of the author’s Rim of Space series

This is the 53rd in my series of forgotten books.

Cover by Ed Emshwiller

At this point in Chandler’s Rim saga, the Rim Worlds are still part of the Federation. First Officer Derek Calver leaves a large commercial liner company, Shakespearean Lines, at Port Forlorn and signs on as Second Mate of Lorn Lady under Capt. Engels. He meets Jane Arlen, catering officer, and they start a relationship. His first tour takes him to Faraway, where he meets Sonya Verrill, Federation Secret Service operative. Verrill is looking for information about the possible defection of the Rim Worlds from the Federation to form their own alliance. Calver is too new to know anything about that, but still must be pulled from the encounter by another officer of the ship.

Next, Tharn, where First Mate Maclean is killed; and Calver moves up to First Mate. Grollor next, where Verrill and her brother, still convinced Calver knows something important, attempt to shanghai Calver. However, he is freed and they are arrested.

En route to the planet Stree, the Lorn Lady encounters a Rim Ghost; a rare phenomenon showing both the present and future merging as if in a mirror. The vision reveals that Calver will one day pilot a ship called Outsider, with Jane at his side. On to Mellise, where Lorn Lady is nearly destroyed in a hurricane. Capt. Engels perishes, leaving Calver in command. Then en route to Mellise, a distress call is received via psionic radio from Thermopylae, falling in degrading orbit towards the volcanic planet Eblis, where the luxury liner was providing wealthy tourists with the spectacular view of that burning planet. Lorn Lady manages to rescue the Thermopylae but is destroyed in the process, though the crew is saved. As a result of salvage laws, Calver believes he will be handsomely rewarded and will in fact get the ship the Rim Ghost showed him.

This Avalon edition of The Rim of Space contains a couple chapters missing from all subsequent editions. Hopefully someone will publish another unabridged edition again one day. The author returned to the Rim a year after this was written with “When the Dream Dies”, also later expanded into the third Grimes novel.

This is pretty typical adventure space opera for the day. Here’s a review from 1962:

“Entertaining, relatively well written, good ideas though perhaps a little too much use of dues ex machina to get our hero out of dire problems. This novel, developed from a novella, is more like older science fiction with little social criticism or insights. This is just good old-fashioned entertainment.” – WCR

That pretty much sums it up, though I didn’t see all that much in the way of saving miracles. Fun stuff. I’m looking forward to reading the John Grimes novels which Baen is currently republishing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more Friday Forgotten Books, this week see George Kelly’s blog.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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15 Responses to FFB: The Rim of Space

  1. Just the cover gives me goosebumps. I love this kind of stuff.

  2. Bill Crider says:

    I always liked the Rim World books. Great stuff.

  3. Drongo says:

    It is an evocative cover. One of the few Chandler novels I haven’t got around to reading.

  4. and The Ship From Outside is the sequel to this one.

    Thanks for the review, its always great to see more folks keeping Chandler’s stories alive.

    If I’ve failed to mention it before, here’s a grid, illustrating the relationship of all of Chandler’s Rim Worlds – related stories http://www.rimworlds.com/rimworldsgrid.htm

  5. You’ve whetted my appetite for Chandler. I think I’ve read some of these in the far distant past, but the years and thousands of books, plus an unfortunate culling(a cursed necessity because of lack of space) some years back make it hard to be sure.

    Darn you! More books to find.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Obviously I’m way behind the curve here but, as mentioned, I’ve got the first Grimes book coming from the Exchange.

  7. Steve: thanks for that link to the grid!
    Rick: I’m guessing that if the BAEN omnibus volumes sell well, we may see a restored THE RIM OF SPACE in a future volume.
    Jeff: So many books, so little time…

  8. Richard says:

    Steve – nice to see you dropping by, twice now, at the mention of Chandler. For those who don’t know, Steve is an expert on the author and his works, and a visit to his blog is a must for anyone interested therein. It was one of my stops when researching the review this week. Hope I didn’t crib too much from you, Steve!

  9. Richard says:

    By the way, that this is one of the books I discovered in a box in the garage when getting the SoCal house packed. It emerged here while sorting through for the paperbacks and I set it aside thinking it would be fun. Sure was! My copy, unfortunately, doesn’t have the cover any longer.

  10. Richard says:

    Charles, Randy, Drongo – this was a fast, fun read and I suggest you pick up a copy of you comes across it. Or as George suggests, Baen my reprint it at some point, I hope so. Oh and for those who don’t know, Drongo’s handle comes from a character – a villain – in one of Chandler’s books.

  11. Drongo says:

    I thought it presumptuous and narcissistic to use a hero’s name 🙂

  12. Jeff Meyerson says:

    The book came in today – it has THE ROAD TO THE RIM and THE HARD WAY UP (shorts). Looks promising.

  13. Evan Lewis says:

    By gum, this sound familiar. Probably read it as a kid.

  14. Jeff Meyerson says:

    No new arrivals this week?

  15. Richard says:

    See post I just put up, Jeff.

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