Friday, January 27, 2012

Forgotten Books: Spartan Planet by A. Bertram Chandler

Once in a while I like to cleanse the reading palate with a visit to another planet, and lately I’ve been doing that in the company of John Grimes of the Federation Survey Service.

The last Grimes novel I read (The Broken Cycle, the final installment of the Baen collection To the Galactic Rim) was a big yawn, so I was hoping Spartan Planet (from 1969, and the opener for the second Baen volume, First Command) would be better. For the first couple of chapters, I wasn’t sure. The earlier Grimes books were all in his point of view, but the protagonist of this one turned out to be a small planet policeman named Brasidus.

BUT, once Grimes and his crew (including his sometimes sex partner Margaret Lazenby) showed up, things started popping, and I had a smile on for the rest of the book. Our man Brasiduyou see, has never laid eyes on a woman, or imagined that such strange critters existed. He and most other residents of the planet Sparta think Margaret is a deformed man, and can’t fathom the big peculiar bumps on her chest.

Sparta, it develops, is an early Federation colony, out of touch so long the people have forgotten they’re a colony. Their society is modeled on the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, and they’ve somehow managed to do entirely without women (or so they think).

Grimes and crew, with only the best of intentions, manage to turn the whole society on its head. Despite some horrific events along the way, the novel never loses its tongue-in-cheek focus. My faith in the Grimes saga has been restored, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure, The Inheritors.


Deka Black said...

Reminds me of a Cordwainer Smith short story with a similar starting point.

Randy Johnson said...

Chandler is another writer sorely missing from my reads. So much out there I'd like to get to and so much new stuff as well.

It's an endless journey trying to read everything possible of interest.

Anonymous said...

This is he next one for me, too, and I'm looking forward to it.

George said...

You'll enjoy THE INHERITORS, Evan. The next omnibus edition of Grimes comes out on April 3 (RIDE THE STAR WINDS).