Sunday, June 5, 2011

Space & Sea Sunday - Another Author You Might Not Have Heard Of - In America

"Come In. This is Liberty Hall; you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard!"
A. Bertram Chandler. 
The original series Star Trek & Next Generation as well as many space operas have been compared to nautical tales for many years.From Wiki:  Some of the influences on his idea that Roddenberry noted included A. E. van Vogt's tales of the spaceship Space BeagleEric Frank Russell's Marathon series of stories, and the filmForbidden Planet (1956). Other people have also drawn parallels with the TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954), a less-sophisticated space opera that still included many of the elements — the organization, crew relationships, missions, part of the bridge layout, and even some technology — that were part of Star Trek.
Roddenberry also drew heavily fromC.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novels that depict a daring sea captain who exercises broad discretionary authority on distant sea missions of noble purpose. Roddenberry often humorously referred to Captain Kirk as "Horatio Hornblower in Space"
However there is one Australian/English author who blew my doors in & made me really take notice of the nautical tradition of science fiction!
A (Arthur) Bertram Chandler was a great science fiction writer who not only knew the nautical life but was a real part of it. The man had 40 science fiction novels to his name & over 200 works of short fiction! He wrote under a wide variety of pen names A Bertram Chandler, George Whitley or Andrew Dunstan. 
I know him through his John Grimes novels. Which a dear friend gave me & I read like candy! Many of the stories revolved around the character of John Grimes some times referred to as “Hornblower of Space” This is pretty much where the Star Trek analogy ends though.

Chandlers science fiction has a different slant to it then Roddenberry or Eric Frank Russell (We'll cover him another time.) There was something about his fiction that simply felt different then other science fiction authors. It was as if his characters had actually stepped from sailing ship to space ship. They had walked the decks.
There is a reason for this as well from Wiki
He was born in AldershotHampshire, England. He was a merchant marine officer, sailing the world in everything from tramp steamers to troopships. He emigrated to Australia in 1956 and became an Australian citizen. He commanded various ships in the Australian and New Zealandmerchant navies, and was the last master of the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne as the law required that it have an officer on board while it was laid up waiting to be towed to China to be broken up. Chandler's daughter, Jenny Chandler, married British horror fiction writerRamsey Campbell.
Another interesting note about the author- 
Chandler was the last master of the aircraft carrier Melbourne. Law required it to have a master aboard for the months while it was laid up and waiting to be towed off to Asia to be broken up for scrap, so in a sense he really was briefly the master of the Australian navy's former flagship. Apparently he had his typewriter aboard, and worked on his novels! I mean how cool is that!
Chandler died in 1984 just as I was getting deeply into the worlds of  TSR. It wasn't until 2002 when I really discovered him. Did I mention that most of his stories had a very very Aussie flavor?
Chandler's Australian background is manifested in his depiction of a future where Australia becomes a major world power on Earth and Australians take the lead in space exploration and the settlement of other planets. Drongo Kane, a piratical captain who is the villain in several books, comes from the planet Austral, and other books also mention the planet Australis in another part of the galaxy.

Now what do these novels offer Dungeon Masters & Players? Well besides some of the better depictions of alternative universes & drive systems plus interesting plots to borrow. These novels are told from the captain whose seen everything perspective. Just great stuff if you can get into it!
Some very important links for fans:
The RimWorld Concordance:
ohn Grimes - Autobiographical Notes

Ehrenhaft Drive for use in your science fiction campaigns


  1. Thanks for the links. I've never read any of his stuff, but I've heard good things.

  2. There's more to come Trey! Thanks for the comments as always man! Read part 1 & 2 of the Rim Gods here


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