John Grimes: Reserve Commodore
by A. Bertram Chandler
Review by Matt Urick

The fourth volume in the Science Fiction Book Club reprinting of the John Grimes adventures at least answers one question. With the inclusion of various shorter stories in this volume, it will take six not five volumes to include everything. It also provides a start answering whether the earlier novels contain some exciting spark that seems to be missing from much of the later novels. The very last novels have been mere devices for Chandler to revisit favorite characters from earlier novels and set the scene for a smooth transition to the earlier novels that take place after the later novels.

The first novel, The Last Amazon, takes Grimes back to Sparta, the setting of Spartan Planet, one of the few of early novels collected so far. This was the world with no women that now is adjusting to a new culture. Grimes is sent to investigate undercurrents of subversiveness. It isn't very difficult for the reader to guess that the new wife of the Archon wants to turn this into a world ruled by Amazons. Only her underestimating the abilities of Grimes and his few operatives prevents this from happening

The next novel, The Wild Ones, was the last Grimes novel written. Grimes is sent to New Salem to investigate the exploitation of a possibly sentient species similar to Piper's "Little Fuzzy." The incident Grimes creates to allow the Space Survey to intervene typically gets out of hand as he and his agents are almost burnt at the stake as witches

There is a definite break between these last novels and the "Rim World" novels as signaled by the future-traveling dream sequence in the last chapter. The story of how Grimes went from Reserve Commodore in the Space Survey to Admiral in the Rim World seems destined not to be revealed.

The five latest shorter stories are presented next. These adventures precede Rim World. I had read a couple when they were published in magazines but had forgotten them. They are the usual ribald romps.

The last short story, "Chance Encounter," is one of the earliest Grimes story. It is the tale of an event that happens while Grimes captains a survey of unex plored Rim World territory.

Grimes is an admiral in the last novel, Catch the Star Winds. His adventuring days are done although he would not mind leading the maiden voyage of the new ship with the experimental drive instead of sending others. One of the crew makes an "improvement" to the new drive during the test flight. The crew finds they must overcome their jealousies and annoyances before they can make it home again.

The stories are all quick easy reads, entertaining at times but not different enough to be very memorable long after they are done.

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