John Grimes: Lieutenant of the Survey Service
by A. Bertram Chandler
Review by Matt Urick

This SF Book Club edition contains the first five John Grimes novels. They are rather short novels, none being over 130 pages. One novel is actually several shorter stories strung together. They fit all the requirements for light summer reading.

The Road to the Rim has Ensign John Grimes shipping out on a commercial spaceship to his first assignment. He has no inlking yet of his destiny among the Rim worlds as his dream is of a hallowed career with the Federation Survey Service. When a distress call is received from another ship attacked by pirates, Grimes finds how different things are in the real world from the classroom. Caught up in the tide of events, he must now help defend his new friends from the Waldengrenese marauders who technically are the allies of his Federation.

In many ways this is the most enjoyable of the novels in this omnibus. Grimes has a more active role in what happens than in the later stories. The nature of the story is more pivotal to his eventual growth as a character.

Another request for help is the start of things in To Prime the Pump. El Dorado is a planet that has been colonized by the richest of the rich. Given all their resources is seems a little suspicious when they ask for the help of the Survey Service medical personnel to find the cause of what prevents any babies being conceived on the planet. Grimes is in charge of the first landing party, but he will soon find out things are not waht they seem.

This is one of those novels where not much important seems to be happening and later on you find out that was the whole point. It's all there in the title.

The Hard Way Up is the short story collection of Grimes' command of a courier ship. He seems to have the knack of getting assignments that lead to big trouble. At times Grimes is no more than an innocent bystander at the scene of an odds-defying accident. Although disaster is avoided, Grimes ends up receiving the opprobrium of his superiors.

Grimes is just as inactive during the next novel, Spartan Planet. We, being astute readers, are well aware that the setting is a long lost colony world that has somehow had ancient Greek culture grafted onto its society. And, oh yeah, there are no women. Revolution is already in ferment when a Survery Service ship commanded by John Grimes arrives. But John's duty is to remain on board while ethologist Margaret Lazenby gets to witness the key occurrences. It is only when the history of the lost colony is understood that a fair resolution can be had.

Another variation on the lost colony now found is The Inheritors John Grimes' duty is to protect the locals of a newly rediscovered world from the prey of Drongo Kane, a slaver who works just enough within the law so that nothing can be proved against him. It is only when the history of the lost colony is understood that justice can prevail.

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