A. BERTRAM CHANDLER – The Road to the Rim. Ace Double H-29, paperback original, 1967 (**). Cover art by Jerome Podwil. Previously serialized in If Science Fiction, April-May, 1967. Collected in To the Galactic Rim (Baen, trade paperback, 2011; mass market paperback, 2012).

   Chronologically, the first “Rim Worlds” story, or at least the first featuring John Grimes. Here he is Ensign Grimes of the Space Survey Service, newly commissioned and incredibly naive. While on passage to his assigned base, he joins a merchant ship captain on an illegal mission of revenge.

   The purser, Jane Pentecost, likely influences his decision, but piracy, after all, cannot be condoned. Afterward, the captain and Jane must leave for the Rim, but Grimes is partially exonerated by their success in destroying the attackers. Since it had already been written, we know there is more to come.

   Not a complete novel as far as development is concerned. An episode, though an important one, in the life of Grimes. Characterization is flat and unreal, changing too much, too abruptly. Grimes worries about his motivations but lets the action and events carry him on.

Rating: **½

NOTE: The version serialized in If SF is identical except for the partial deletion of a scene with Jane in a detention cell.

(**) The novel on the reverse side of the Ace Double paperback, The Lost Millennium, by Walt and Leigh Richmond will be reviewed here soon.

– March 1968