(Arthur) Bertram Chandler was born in Aldershot, England in 1912, Chandler sailed
the world in every-thing from tramp steamers to troop transports before emigrating
to Australia in 1956. Here he commanded merchant vessels under the Australian and
New Zealand Flags up to his retirement in 1974.
Up until his death in 1984 he published over 40 science fiction novels and over
200 works of short fiction writing as A Bertram Chandler, George Whitley or Andrew
Dunstan. Many of the novels had a nautical theme, with the plot moved from the seas
of earth to the ships of space in the future. Many of the stories revolved around
the character of John Grimes some times referred to as “Hornblower of Space”. While
most stories are set in the future, they also have a distinctly “Australian” theme
with places and stories relating back to Australia today.
Chandler was the last master of the aircraft carrier Melbourne. Law required it
to have a master aboard for the months while it was laid up and waiting to be towed
off to Asia to be broken up for scrap, so in a sense he really was briefly the master
of the Australian navy's former flagship. Apparently he had his typewriter aboard,
and worked on his novels!
Chandler received four Australian SF "Ditmar" Achievement Awards for his
novels. Nearly all of his novels were published in the USA. Two of his short stories
'The Cage' and 'Giant Killer’ are regarded as some of the best SF stories
written in the 1950's. He was also very popular in Japan winning the prestigious
SEIUN SHO, the premier Science Fiction award. The Japanese editions have some of
the best covers of any of the published editions.
Baen Books have released four John Grimes anthologies
To the Galactic Rim: The John Grimes Saga
, First Command: The John Grimes Saga II
, Galactic Courier: The John Grimes Saga III
and Ride the Star Winds: The John Grimes Saga IV
. These are available as both eBooks and Trade Paperbacks
have reprinted 8 Novels as eBooks, including the hard to find Glory Planet, now available for the second time since the initial Hard Cover publication. The published novels include Frontier of The Dark, Kelly Country, The Bitter Pill, The Sea Beasts, The Alternate Martians, Glory Planet, The Coils of Time and The Hamelin Plague
There are now 31 Novels available as audio books, including all the John Grimes
Novels. These are all available from
Tales From Super-Science Fiction
The short story I'll take over (originally published as by George Whitely)
has been published in the anthology
Tales from Super-Science Fiction
edited by Robert Silverberg.
This letter was published in The Mentor (August 1982).
I was particularly interested by Harry Warner's letter in The Mentor 38 in which he says, "In contrast to A. Bertram Chandler, I don't know much about anything..." Well, neither do I. Only in a very few fields do I possess more than a layman’s knowledge. But as so many people who wouldn’t know the sharp end from the blunt end of a ship will persist in writing "sea stories" I am frequently aroused to righteous wrath.
Like Mr. Warner I am often annoyed by the stupidity of fictional characters. For example, recently I read a very competent thriller, written by an ex-policemen - a retired Scotland Yard C.I.D. Commander as a matter of fact. This gentleman, I thought at first, was guilty of a gross error insofar as the conduct pf one of his characters was concerned. This man, a soldier, something of an expert on small arms, was left to guard a prisoner. He was handed an automatic pistol by a superior and told that the weapon was loaded and cocked and that he was to use it. The prisoner wriggled out of his bonds. The guard pointed the pistol and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He recocked, at which stage it was obvious that there had not been a round in the chamber. By this time the gun was jammed and the hapless guard was hit with a handy hammer and killed. The escaped prisoner - a detective inspector investigated. He discovered that he had been meant to make his escape. Apart from anything else the top round in the magazine had been put in back to front.
Of course people, even intelligent people, even experts, are all too often incredibly stupid. But surely that hapless corporal, having been given a firearm with instructions to use it, would have checked the weapon. Oh, well, it was a reversal of the old dictum "It's the gun that’s not loaded that kills people." In this case it was the gun that was loaded that did not kill people.
So the corporal was stupid. The crooked staff sergeant knew that the corporal was stupid. Nevertheless, he was taking a risk. Just at the one time that the corporal should have acted in character he would have done the wrong thing and made sure that the weapon was in proper working order.
Finally, with reference to my article on convenience foods... I have found a local deli which carries a good stock of all manner of imported goodies in cans.