Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Chandler, A Bertram

Entry updated 15 April 2024. Tagged: Author.

Icon made by Freepik from


(1912-1984) UK-born author who served in the Merchant Navy from 1928, and who emigrated to Australia in 1956, where he commanded merchant ships under Australian and New Zealand flags until his retirement in 1975. This long professional experience permeated his writing, and many of his novels feature Spaceships and flotillas whose command structures are decidedly naval. Chandler began publishing with "'This Means War!'" in Astounding for May 1944, on John W Campbell Jr's invitation, and concentrated on short fiction for almost two decades, often under the pseudonym George Whitley (in the USA and the UK), less frequently as Andrew Dunstan and S H M (both only in Australia). He published no books during this period, and maybe for that reason he was until the 1960s less well known than he perhaps deserved, even though some of his best stories date from early in his career. For some time Chandler was known mainly as the author of "Giant Killer" (October 1945 Astounding), a Pocket-Universe tale which dominates the work posthumously assembled in From Sea to Shining Star (coll 1989 [1990]), and whose solitary prominence suggests that – although he published nearly 200 stories over several decades – he was not entirely comfortable in shorter forms.

After reaching the rank of chief officer, Chandler stopped writing for some time. He began again with a spate of tales in the late 1950s, and finally published his first novel at the beginning of the new decade. Thereafter he concentrated on full-length stories – some of them making fairly short books, in accordance with Ace Books's marketing strategy at this time; most of them are set in and/or deal, directly or indirectly, with his central venue, the various Rim Worlds set like isolated islands along the edge of the Galaxy (see Galactic Lens; Rimworld) during a period of human expansion. Not all these novels are serially connected, though all have a common background (which includes terminology and a set of frequently mentioned planets, like Thule and Faraway); John Grimes, the protagonist of the central sequence, appears also in some non-series novels. The two Derek Calver books – The Rim of Space (1961), Chandler's first novel, and The Ship from Outside (August 1959 Astounding as "The Outsiders"; exp 1963 dos) – make up a kind of trailer for the more numerous stories grouped about the figure of Grimes. In these books, Calver, following something like the same course Grimes will, comes to the Rim Worlds, eventually becomes captain of his own starship, Lorn Lady, loses her, sails on other star tramps, and engages in far-flung adventures.

Grimes is mentioned in this short series, and the John Grimes/Rim World series – which begins with "Chance Encounter" (March 1959 New Worlds) massively expands upon his very similar career and life. Grimes himself dominates two main sequences. The first in terms of internal chronology (though most of it was written later) traces his career in the Federation Survey Service up to and beyond the point that he shifts loyalties to the Rim. Please see Checklist below for the entire series in order of publication; the internal order is given here [for ease of consultation, all omnis have been omitted; for omnis, see Checklist].

The first sequence begins with The Road to the Rim (April-May 1967 If; 1967 dos), continuing with To Prime the Pump (1971); The Hard Way Up (coll 1972 dos); False Fatherland (1968; vt Spartan Planet 1969); The Inheritors (1972 dos), which involves Genetic Engineering; The Broken Cycle (1975); The Big Black Mark (1975); The Far Traveller (1977); Star Courier (1977); To Keep the Ship (1978); Matilda's Stepchildren (1979); Star Loot (1980); The Anarch Lords (1981); The Last Amazon (1984); The Wild Ones (1984); Catch the Star Winds (coll of 1 novel and 1 story 1969). The second sequence advances Grimes further into his second career with the Rim Runners and the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Begun earlier and not written with any internal order in mind, it includes, in order of publication: Into the Alternate Universe (1964 dos) and Contraband from Other-Space (September-October 1967 If as "Edge of Night"; 1967 dos); The Rim Gods (coll of linked stories 1969 dos) and The Dark Dimensions (1971 dos); Alternate Orbits (coll 1971 dos); The Gateway to Never (1972 dos) and The Way Back (1976).

Through these books Grimes's somewhat melancholy temperament and consistent ingenuity often remind one of C S Forester's Horatio Hornblower, an influence Chandler acknowledged (though Grimes's sexual forthrightness strikes a new note); but it is of course more than Hornblower's character that is drawn from the earlier genre. The Grimes/Rim World sequence is very clearly a Hornblower in Space transposition – much more directly than is usually the case – of the maritime world into a dream of interstellar commerce: ships into Spaceships, seas into the blackness between the stars, seaports into starports, hinterlands into planets, the South Sea Islands into constellations. Much of the warmth and detail of Chandler's work derives from this direct translation of venues, and Grimes himself establishes a loyalty in his readers rather similar to that felt by readers of Hornblower. Indeed, Chandler's Space Operas are among the most likeable and well constructed in the genre, and his vision of the Rim Worlds – cold, poor, at the antipodean edge of intergalactic darkness, but full of all the pioneer virtues – are the genre's homiest characterization of that corner of Space Opera's galactic arena.

Two singletons merit some notice. The Bitter Pill (1974) sourly depicts a totalitarian Dystopia on Earth, which has established a penal colony on Mars (see Prisons) that becomes a new Botany Bay for the convicts transported there, and the ultimately successful attempts its leading characters make to wrest Mars free of oppression; and Kelly Country (1976 Void #3; exp 1983) places a war for Australian independence in a Parallel-Worlds setting.

Chandler received the Australian Ditmar Award in 1969, 1971, 1974 and 1976. Since 1992, the A Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in sf in Australia has been presented in his memory. [JC]

see also: Australia; Colonization of Other Worlds; Dogs; Faster Than Light; Galactic Empires; Great and Small; Robert Hale Limited; Seiun Award.

Arthur Bertram Chandler

born Aldershot, Hampshire: 28 March 1912

died Sydney, New South Wales: 6 June 1984



John Grimes/Rim World

  • Into the Alternate Universe (New York: Ace Books, 1964) [dos: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Ed Valigursky]
  • Contraband from Otherspace (New York: Ace Books, 1967) [dos: first appeared September-October 1967 If as "Edge of Night": John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
  • The Road to the Rim (New York: Ace Books, 1967) [dos: first appeared April-May 1967 If: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Jerome Podwil]
  • False Fatherland (Sydney, New South Wales: Horwitz Publications, 1968) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/]
    • Spartan Planet (New York: Dell Books, 1969) [vt of the above: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/John Berkey]
  • The Rim Gods (New York: Ace Books, 1969) [coll: dos: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
  • Catch the Star Winds (New York: Lancer Books, 1969) [coll: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
  • Alternate Orbits (New York: Ace Books, 1971) [coll: dos: with The Dark Dimensions below: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Karel Thole]
    • The Commodore at Sea (New York: Ace Books, 1979) [omni comprising The Commodore at Sea, vt of the above title, plus False Fatherland under its vt, Spartan Planet above: John Grimes/Rim World: The Grimes Saga, Book 5: pb/Paul Alexander]
    • John Grimes: Rim Runner (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2004) [omni of the above as The Commodore at Sea plus Into the Alternate Universe, Contraband from Otherspace and The Rim Gods variously above, plus four shorter tales: John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Paul Youll]
  • The Dark Dimensions (New York: Ace Books, 1971) [dos: with Alternate Orbits above: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
    • The Dark Dimensions (New York: Ace Books, 1979) [omni of the above title plus The Rim Gods above: John Grimes/Rim World: The Grimes Saga, Book 3: pb/Rowena Morrill]
  • To Prime the Pump (New York: Curtis Publications, 1971) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/]
  • The Gateway to Never (New York: Ace Books, 1972) [dos: with The Inheritors below: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/]
  • The Hard Way Up (New York: Ace Books, 1972) [coll: dos: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
    • The Road to the Rim (New York: Ace Books, 1978) [omni of the above title plus The Road to the Rim above: John Grimes/Rim World: The Grimes Saga, Book 1: pb/Ken Barr]
  • The Inheritors (New York: Ace Books, 1972) [dos: with The Gateway to Never above: John Grimes/Rim World: pb/]
    • The Inheritors (New York: Ace Books, 1979) [omni of the above title plus The Gateway to Never: John Grimes/Rim World: The Grimes Saga, Book 2: the two volumes of this omni had previously been published together in dos format: pb/Paul Alexander]
    • John Grimes: Lieutenant of the Survey Service (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2001) [omni of the above three titles plus The Road to the Rim, and False Fatherland under its vt, Spartan Planet: John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Vincent Di Fate]
  • The Big Black Mark (New York: DAW Books, 1975) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Kelly Freas]
  • The Broken Cycle (London: Robert Hale, 1975) [John Grimes/Rim World: hb/]
    • To the Galactic Rim (New York: Baen Books, 2011) [omni of the above plus The Road to the Rim, To Prime the Pump and The Hard Way Up: pb/Stephen Hickman]
  • The Way Back (London: Robert Hale, 1976) [John Grimes/Rim World: hb/]
    • Gateway to Never (New York: Baen Books, 2015) [omni of the above plus Gateway to Never, The Dark Dimensions and other material: pb/Alan Pollack]
  • The Far Traveler (London: Robert Hale, 1977) [John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Graham Tucker]
    • First Command (New York: Baen Books, 2011) [omni of the above plus Spartan Planet, The Inheritors and The Big Black Mark: pb/Stephen Hickman]
  • Star Courier (New York: DAW Books, 1977) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Ray Feibush]
  • To Keep the Ship (New York: DAW Books, 1978) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/H R van Dongen]
  • Matilda's Stepchildren (London: Robert Hale, 1979) [John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Ken W Kelly]
  • Star Loot (New York: DAW Books, 1980) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Attila Hejja]
    • Galactic Courier (New York: Baen Books, 2011) [omni of the above plus Star Courier, To Keep the Ship and Matilda's Stepchildren: pb/Stephen Hickman]
  • The Anarch Lords (New York: DAW Books, 1981) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/David B Mattingly]
    • John Grimes: Tramp Captain (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2003) [omni of the above three titles plus To Keep the Ship: John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Jim Burns]
  • The Last Amazon (New York: DAW Books, 1984) [John Grimes/Rim World: pb/Richard Hescox]
  • The Wild Ones (Sydney, New South Wales: Collins, 1984) [John Grimes/Rim World: hb/GASPP]
    • John Grimes: Reserve Commodore (New York: Science Fiction Book Club, 2004) [omni of the above three, plus some stories: John Grimes/Rim World: hb/Alan Pollack]
    • Upon a Sea of Stars (New York: Baen Books, 2012) [omni of the above plus The Anarch Lords and Contraband from Otherspace plus the collections The Rim Gods and Commodore at Sea: pb/Alan Pollack]

Derek Calver

Christopher Wilkinson

  • The Coils of Time (New York: Ace Books, 1961) [dos: first appeared 1964 Toronto Star Weekly: Christopher Wilkinson: pb/Jack Gaughan]
  • The Alternate Martians (New York: Ace Books, 1965) [dos: with Empress of Outer Space below: Christopher Wilkinson: pb/Jerome Podwil]


individual titles


about the author


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies