I forgot to cover a few points the other day while gushing about Chandler. What I most forgot to mention were links to Chandler material that’s available for free (or cheap) on the web. Here you go:
Stories, articles, pictures and such are all available on David Kelleher’s Bertram Chandler website. In particular, you’ll find this autobiography of John Grimes of particular interest, since it provides some detail about Grimes’ career prior to the first published story about Grimes (The Road To The Rim). Although it’s not the character’s first appearance. More about that in a bit.
You might also want to listen to the South African radio program SF68′s production of The Cage. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a legal link to this one – but it is out there.
A necessary part of the concordance process (Rim Worlds Concordance) is determining which of an author’s stories are part of the canon. An inevitable part of that task is to work things into some kind of order, presuming there is one.
I’ve got a whole page on the concordance site devoted to the Rim Worlds stories (of which Grimes tales are a major portion) presented in their presumed correct order, with plot synposis. Be warned as that is spoiler material.
If you want to get the whole Rim Worlds feel, you really need to start at the beginning, during the 2nd Expansion of mankind to the stars. The first expansion featured frozen-sleep slowboats to the stars, a fact that we only learn about when it comes in to play in later stories.
The 2nd Expansion utilized a true FTL drive – the Ehrenhaft Drive. The first two stories (chronologically, not the first two published or authored) are identified as such by the use of this FTL drive in the stories.
Both are relatively early Chandler and feature his penchant for ‘shaggy dog’ tales – literary puns. The first is The Left Hand Way (also published under the title Naval Engagement) and the other is Fall of Knight. You can hunt up TLHW here. FOK is, unfortunately not available on line, but the magazine it originally appeared in – Fantastic Universe (June, 1958), an anthology of stories from that magazine The Fantastic Universe Omnibus and the anthology Rulers of Men (both books edited by Santesson) are usually readily available at ABE and frequently on EBay.
If you don’t want to to start with Rim Worlds tales and just want to dive into the life, time and crimes of Commodore John Grimes, planetary governor, space privateer, lady’s man and interstellar delivery boy, you’ll need to read that autobio piece I mentioned above and then pick up the NESFA Press publication Up To The Sky In Ships, (or buy a copy of New Worlds magazine, #81, March 1959 issue) a commemorative collection of Chandler stories which includes Close Encounter, the first published story wherein Grimes makes a cameo appearance. To throw a little confustion into the mix though, this particular story actually takes place very late in the Commodore’s career.
If you want to read the saga in chronological order, obtain a copy of The Road To The Rim. Grimes appears as a wet-behind-the-ears shave tail, loses his virginity and offs space pirates in that one. Abe or EBay – I just got another copy for a buck on EBay.