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Creator / A. Bertram Chandler

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A. Bertram Chandler (1912-1984) was a science fiction writer who was born in England, but emigrated to Australia in 1956, where he enjoyed his years of greatest success. The "A." stands for Arthur, but he never used that name professionally; in fact, he sometimes dropped the "A." entirely. Some of his early stories were published under the pseudonym of George Whitley.

Chandler served in the Merchant Marines of both his native country and his adopted one, and his shipboard experience was a major influence on his fiction. He is best known for his extensive "Rim World" series, and especially the "John Grimes" stories. Grimes started as a minor character in another Rim World book, but ended up as Chandler's most popular protagonist, featured in over twenty novels and many short stories.

While his greatest success was in Australia, where he won several Ditmar Awards for Best Australian Science Fiction, he continued to sell quite well in the UK and US as well.

Tropes in his works:

  • Alternate History: In Kelly Country, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly leads a successful rebellion against the British.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: In "The Proper Gander", the Aliens, finding that their ships have been spotted by Earth dwellers, proceed to "contact" gullible flying saucer believers, knowing that the rest of the people will not believe THEIR stories. At the end, the one who made the "proper gander" pun is assigned to be a comedian making fun of the contact stories, anticipating that he will "make 'saucer' the dirtiest word in the English language."
  • Hurl It into the Sun: In "Giant Killer", a Novella by A. Bertram Chandler, the setting is an enormous spaceship populated by "The People" and "The Giants". When "The People" become a serious menace to "The Giants", and voiding the air of the ship doesn't kill all of them, the last surviving "Giant" sends the ship into a star.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Rim World novels involve the Mannschenn Drive, which uses 'temporal precession'—essentially a hybrid of time machine and matter 'phasing', carrying all the worrying baggage of both those technologies. A serious accident will disintegrate the ship: lesser malfunctions can drop the ship into Another Dimension, or a random time period. (Really random: say, six billion years ahead of schedule.)
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Chandler once had Space Navy officer John Grimes inadvertently cross universes to a club for fictional naval personnel—though the original rules were bent a bit to allow non-naval ship captains such as Ahab to hang out there (it's hinted that Commander Bond had to strong-arm Captain Queeg somewhat to make him stop objecting to Ahab's inclusion). Jeeves is the chief servant at the club, is fully aware of the fictional nature of all involved, and asks Grimes (approximate quote): "The question is, sir, are you an enduring creation?"
  • Negative Space Wedgie: In Nebula Alert, a nebula turns out to be one of these having both the effect of increasing hostility among the crew and passengers as well turning out to be a portal into the author's other series. Chandler's work had many NSWs explained by space "breaking down" on the rim of the galaxy.
  • Shared Unusual Trait: In the John Grimes novels the title character has an illegitimate son that inherited his very large ears. The mother had them surgically altered to hide his paternity from her planet's nobility.
  • Space Sector: His stories of the Rim Worlds and Commodore John Grimes frequently mention the "Shakespearean Sector".
  • Spoiler Cover: The cover of Astounding Science Fiction (Oct. 1945) gave away The Reveal that in its lead story, Chandler's "Giant Killer", the "Giants" are human astronauts and the warring tribes are mutated rats.
  • Tomato Surprise: In "Giant Killer", a Novella by A. Bertram Chandler, the main characters call themselves "The People", but they can't be normal humans (among other things, one of the "hideously deformed mutants" whose names describe their mutations is called No-Tail), but knowing what and where they actually are (sentient rats on a spaceship) causes a perspective shift that turns it into almost an entirely different story.
  • Tools of Sapience: In the short story "The Cage", survivors from a crashed starship (on a planet where clothes don't survive due to some aggressive fungus) are captured by aliens and put in a zoo. Attempts to convince the aliens they are sentient by making baskets or demonstrating mathematics fail. But when they build a cage and put an alien mouse into it... well, only sentient beings are bastards enough for that.
  • Unusual User Interface: In "The Rim of Space", the navigator of the ship the Lorn Lady controls it via a telepathic link to a dog brain wired into the ship's computer. In its down time, he rewards it with telepathic visions of trees and fire hydrants.
  • Zero-G Spot: In one of the John Grimes novels, a female purser tells Grimes that she got her job after the last purser broke her leg because she failed to obey the Golden Rule of space travel—Stop what you are doing and secure any loose objects when the acceleration warning sounds—though the ship's doctor avoided injury by landing on top of her. Grimes is about to ask what the purser and the doctor were up to that they couldn't stop doing, then quickly shuts up.