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The Rim of Space on Audio

Blackstone Audio have release The Rim of Space on Audio as part of A Galaxy Trilogy VOL. 4

The Mentor

To Run the Rim (Article)

No, I’m not writing the bloody thing a third time. Twice was ample. (The First shorter version appeared in Astounding Science Fiction the second, novel length version, retitled The Rim of Space, has been published by Avalon.) But, having been asked to write an article on the Rim Worlds, this
title is as good as any.

Once upon a time I could really have spread myself. Once upon a time was the official chronicler of the Rim Worlds and, I suppose, something of a cartographer as well. (And what’s the astronautical equivalent of hydrographer?) But that was before I lost my Rim World citizenship, when my state of mind was such that I just naturally gravitated to the bleak cold edge of the Galaxy and, masochistically, derived a perverse pleasure from living there.

The first Rim World story was Edge of Night, written in January 1958. It sold to Venture - and Venture promptly folded. (Retitled The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, the story finally appeared in F&SF.) When I wrote it I didn’t realise what I had started - but the idea of the Rim, the last frontier, stuck in my mind, as did the names of the planets, Lorn, Faraway, Ultimo and Thule. Wet Paint followed - it was published in one of the Ziff-Davis inagazines - but it wasn’t a proper Rim World story, being more concerned with the wet paint gimmick than with the Rim mythology.It was with To Run The Rim that I really emigrated to the Rim Worlds. I suppose it was, like so much of my stuff, really a disguised sea story. And Rim Runners, too, bear a certain resemblance to my present employers. Just as their ships are officered by refugees from the Interstellar Transport Commission, Trans-Galactic Clippers, the Waverley Royal Mail and so on, so are the vessels of the Union Steam Ship Company officered by refugees from Shaw Savill, Port Line, Royal Mail, and even Cunard White Star. Come to that, some of the Union Company’s services are as near Rim Running as dammit. The Strahan trade, for example - with Strahan at one end and Yarraville at the other…

Then came The Outsiders, a follow-up to To Run The Rim, also published in ASF. The Key followed, and was purchased by Ziff-Davis. And there was Chance Encounter, published both by New Worlds and Satellite. And there was Rimghost - still unpublished utilised later. And To Hell For A Pastime, which appeared in Fantastic Universe. Then, for a while, I got away from the Rim and worked on a series of long novelettes, the IF stories, in which I played around with the ideas of an interstellar drive, utilising the propulsive force of light, and alternative time tracks. Somehow these stories never caught on. Several editors have nibbled at them and then, eventually, turned them down. And there was a run of "Lost Colony" stories, said lost colonies having been founded by the crews and passengers of gaussjammers, the Ehrenhaft Drive ships, which got themselves mislaid in space, (The Mannschenn Drive ships, of course, got themselves mis-laid in time...) There were a few stories about the Beacon Keepers, the men and women who tended the Carlotti Beacons, the time-twisting radio-direction-finding and communications device which simplified the navigation of the timejammers and put the unreliable temperamental telepaths, with their dog's brains in aspic, out of a job. They never sold. And there were a few more stories, combining odd interstellar drives with alternative time tracks, which appeared both in New Worlds and the Ziff Davis magazines.

But I couldn’t keep away from the Rim. In December 1959 I wrote When The Dreams Die, The first version was a 17,500 word novelette, I sent it off to my agent in New York and heard nothing further about it for a while. I wrote a novel, Voyage, which my wife said was "too highbrow for the smut market, too pornographic for the highbrow market, and too lacking in action for the thriller market." (I fear she was right.) And then, for lack of anything better to do, I turned to a novel-length expansion of To Run The Rim. New incidents were invented and other material borrowed from Rim World stories such as Rimghost and from some of the Lost Colony yarns. And of course the mild pornography expunged by John Campbell was re-inserted, and a bit extra thrown inn. The magnum opus finished, it was posted to New York.

Then once again I was out of inspiration, but the novel-writing bug had bitten me, Having heard nothing further about When The Dreams Die, I decided to expand it to novel length. The expansion was coming on nicely when I heard from my agent, who enclosed a photostat copy of a letter from Cele Goldsmith, Ziff-Davis’s editor. She liked the story, but... Her main complaint was that it was soap opera rather than space opera. The expansion was brought to a hasty conclusion and sent off. Miss Goldsmith liked it. (It was still soap opera, but I had made the characters a little more credible.)

Suddenly things seemed to be moving quite fast on the literary front. Avalon wanted To Run The Rim still further expanded, and this was done - by way of borrowing rather than inventing. And the last of all the Rim World stories - Bring Back Yesterday - was written. And When The Dream Dies suffered its final expansion.

Probably by this time most of you will have read Bring Back Yesterday and wonder why I classed it as a Rim World story. In the original version it was. The protagonist finished up on the Rim, a drunken Second Mate of one of the Rim Runner's more decrepit interstellar rustbuckets. But Ace Books didn’t like the ending - which, at the time I thought was the only possible one. But dollars are dollars, and the majority of wordsmiths are prostitutes at heart, and so... Anyhow, I’ve decided now that I prefer the revised ending.

Even so, it was the last of the Rim Runner stories, although the Ace version of When The Dream Dies has yet to appear. The Galactic Rim was real enough to me when I lived there; it was a state of mind that lasted rather too long for the comfort of myself and those around me. Yet I was lucky enough to be able to make capital of it and, even now, I feel a certain nostalgia for Lorn, Faraway, Ultimo, Thule, and the queer outlandish planets of the Eastern Circuit.
Originally Published in The Mentor No: 6 - May 1965