Book Review: To Prime the Pump

Prime the Pump cover

This review was originally written for In the Mouth of Dorkness, back in 2012.  I’d read the first John Grimes book months earlier, before I started writing reviews.  I have all the Grimes stories, and will eventually get around to reading them, I’m sure.

A. Bertram Chandler’s planet hopping hero John Grimes is often referred to as ‘science fiction’s Horatio Hormblower.’  This book marks my second outing with the dashing young space-navy man (the first was The Road to the Rim), and I found myself enjoying this story more.  This is in part due to Grimes being a more experienced officer, less wet behind the ears.  I also enjoyed the mystery of the sterile Eden, created by ultra-wealthy neo-aristocracy.  Why can’t they have children, and why can’t the galaxy’s best doctors find the truth?

The narrative structure of the book is interesting in its own right.  It doesn’t play out with the action-pause-action-pause style one expects from this sort of thing.  In fact, there’s very little action at all.  A ship crash, a boar hunt, a rogue bot.  That’s about it.  Mostly, it’s about Grimes trying to deal with social challenges created by people far, far too rich for their own good.

This is classic space opera.  If you enjoy the original Star Trek, the Foundation books, Mike Resnick’s Santiago novels, or that sort of world hopping adventure story, you should check out the John Grimes books.  They’re short, fast reads, with plenty of twists, turns, and weird ideas.  I look forward to the next one (actually, it’s a collection of short stories).  Sci-Fi publisher Bean has put out four volumes collecting (I believe) all of Chandler’s Grimes stories.  They’re worth picking up for your library.


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