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The Rim Worlds

... out on the Galactic Rim things are very iffy and if you fart really hard your're liable to blow yourself on to an Alternate Time Track.

A Bertram Chandler.






















Forerunner Quarterly

You Could Always Look at the Pictures

Some time ago my Agent in New York did a deal with one of the major paperback publishing houses in Tokyo, selling them the rights to all the Grimes/Rim Worlds novels. As a result of this I have been in frequent correspondence with the translator who has also, now and again, telephoned me, mainly to iron out the details of the illustrations. The conversations have usually been with a very charming young lady, a Miss Abe, with a good command of English but an abysmal ignorance of such technicalities as science fictioneers take for granted. One result of this has been that the Mannshcen Drive as illustrated - a sort of cat's cradle of interlocking rings - is nothing at all like my conception of that weird machine. On the other hand, the antenna of the Carlotti communicating and direction finding equipment does fit in with my own ideas on that subject.

To date I have received copies of three novels - THE ROAD TO THE RIM, TO PRIME THE PUMP and THE HARD WAY UP. Unreadable, of course, but nice to have in a bookcase. And as a matter of fact, I've found it quite easy to follow the stories by looking at the interior illustrations. I particularly likes the one of those for THE MOUNTAIN MOVERS in THE HARD WAY UP. This showed Ayers Rock as viewed from above. In the background was another mountain - not flat topped enough for Mount Conner and not bumpy enough for Mount Olga. Flying over the rock was a dirigible. I check the story in the Ace edition and found it was one of the few yarns that didn't have airships in it... I suppose that it's gotten to the stage where airships are regarded at part of the scenery in any Chandler story...

One thing that has intrigued me has been the Nude Ration. Each book has one, and only one only, interior illustration depicting the female form divine. In THE ROAD TO THE RIM this shows Grimes and Jane Pentecost engaging in Free Fall fornication. In TO PRIME THE PUMP the Princess Marlene is depicted naked on her water skis. The next illustration is the underwater sequence with she and Grimes tangling with the Lock Ogre. According to me she was naked save for her breathing mask and air bottle; the illustrator, however, has put her into a rather staid bikini.

In THE HARD WAY UP the single nude scene is of Grimes with Mrs Commissioner Dalwood and her lady's maid in Adder's little gymnasium-cum-sauna. Grimes (correctly) is wearing trunks. (He just finished exercising on the bicycle - and even in a nudist club one is supposed to wear trunks when using such machines.) The two young women are naked. The lady's maid is not as plump as I envisioned her, but her mistress is too plump...

Next out will be SPARTAN PLANET (the illustrator will be able to find the necessary scene quite easily), then THE INHERITORS (no trouble there either), the THE BROKEN CYCLE (he'll have trouble keeping the nude scenes down to one) and then THE BIG BLACK MARK...

Strictly between ourselves, I've always wanted to get a nude on the cover. My only success has been the Italian edition of THE INHERITORS.

Getting away from naked ladies to dresses - overdressed - men, the illustrations to an article in the Rim Worlds series in the Japanese magazine SF are really fascinating. Among other things there are the cap badges of almost all the major shipping lines and space navies - the Waverly Royal Mail, Tans-Galactic Clippers, the Federation Survey Service, Rim Runners, the Rim Worlds Navy, the Dog Star Line. Then there is Grimes himself, standing like a tailors dummy decked out in the various Survey Service uniforms from shorts-and-shirt working rig to full dress. On the occasions that Grimes has been obliged to wear such I've envisaged something similar to the full dress of the Royal Navy - a fore-and-aft hat (cocked hat), frock coat, sword belt and sword... My mind boggled at what the illustrator had done. The top half of Grimes was a naval officer in ceremonial rig - the cocked hat, the frock coat, the sword etc. The rest of him was diplomat. Grey waistcoat and striped trousers...

What I'm looking forward to seeing - this point was discussed briefly in conversation with Miss Abe - is a family tree tracing Commodore Grimes' descent from Admiral Lord Hornblower.
Originally Published in Forerunner Quarterly No: 3 - Jan 1976