Ride the Star Winds (The John Grimes Saga)
by A. Bertram Chandler
Cover Artist: Stephen Hickman
Review by Jon Guenther
Baen Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638127
Date: 03 April 2012 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
If tales of interstellar adventure, wild alien cultures and political intrigue are your cup of tea, look no further than Ride the Star Winds! A. Bertram Chandler's saga continues in volume #4 of this Baen Books omnibus release that includes four novels:
Having already consumed other stories in this series, I can assure you Chandler's storytelling remains excellent with his protagonist, John Grimes, star-hopping about the Galactic Rim in a variety of roles. From governor of an anarchist planet to passenger aboard a spaceship capable of hurtling through time, Grimes embarks on one (mis)adventure after another.
While Chandler's prose is reminiscent of the pulp work that heralded the Golden Age of Science Fiction, there's something that makes it richer. The storytelling has more depth here than many of the potboilers from that era. Courtesy of his creator's whimsy, John Grimes encounters highly charged social issues such as a drugs, slavery, sex, violence, political corruption, and women's rights, to name a few--sometimes all in the same novel! The book also follows somewhat of a thematic underpinning with most of the tales taking place planet-side rather than in space, and involving societies faced with impending doom unless Grimes steps up to his call and saves the day.
One literary device I find highly clever and a mainstay of my enjoyment, is how Chandler keeps Grimes on stage all of the time; we see everything from Grimes's point of view, which brings a consistency to the stories because the plot is not interrupted by frequent shifts in viewpoint. Grimes is a thoroughly enjoyable character with a sarcastic and often dry sense of humor that really shines through the dialog. The narrative is typically sparse, and much of the storyline gets carried by dialog, so the reading is easy and kept me turning the pages.
Readers might wonder if they need to read the other Galactic Rim novels in the previous Baen Books volumes to enjoy or understand the novels in this omnibus edition. I don't think so. The four stories within the book follow in chronological order of story timeline, but each is a satisfying tale in itself and will give most readers more than enough material to decide if they wish to explore the other books.
These are stories that may be enjoyed by both younger and older readers, alike. Bravo, to Baen releasing them once more to a brand new generation. I've read the previous stories of John Grimes and I found the four novels in this book (all new stories to me) were no less fun and enjoyable. For those seeking stories filled with "high-science" concepts in the vein of Peter Hamilton or Alastair Reynolds, this won't hold appeal. But for those who like accessible space operas filled with great characters, alien cultures, high adventure and a fun, witty hero, Ride the Star Winds will definitely satisfy!