HOME     THE RIM WORLDS

STORY SUMMARIES

I had a bit of a dither over whether this piece should appear in the Rim Worlds section or in the Bibliography section. Obviously I made a decision, and I can't state precisely why I decided it belong here. Perhaps because its going to be regularly updated and, other than the Concordance itself, the Rim Worlds pages will be the most frequently updated section of the site.

Below you will find the title of a work, followed by a summary of the plot. Most of these summaries are very rough - they'll be re-written when the Concordance nears its completion. They're more like outlines at this point, hasty jottings to make sure that I don't forget any of the major details of the plot. The stories listed below are those that have already been entered into the database. Their order of presentation reflects the order in which they were entered. A title with all caps was published as a novel. One with initial caps only was published as a short story. The only exception to this rule are the story collections who's primary title appears in all caps. If there are individual summaries of the collected works, those will appear in initial caps.

THE RIM OF SPACE

Derek Calver leaves service with ITC following an unhappy marriage. He signs on with Rim Runners aboard Lord Lady. The Rim Worlds have not yet become a separate empire – they are still part of the Federation. The Survey Service is watching things on the Rim. Rim Runners are designated as the Reserve for the soon to be Rim Worlds Navy. Rim Runners are being used to establish relationships with the Worlds of the Eastern Circuit, in order to gain their allegiance when the Rim Worlds declare their independence. Rim Runners are arming and supply illegal and barely legal technologies (including weapons) to those worlds. Calver is involved in warfare on Tharn. He is temporarily kidnapped by Sonya and Bill Verrill (brother and sister) – agents for the Federation. He is promoted to acting first mate when the First is killed by a native on Tharn. He is promoted to captain when the Captain is lost during a hurricane on Mellise. He and the crew experience an alternate reality version of themselves in a Rim Ghost apparition (Calver as captain and owner of his own ship). He rescues Thermopylae, but at the expense of the destruction of Lorn Lady.

The Man Who Could Not Stop

Clavering steals the Shaara crown jewels and flees Earth. After many more crimes, including murder, on various worlds, he ends up on Faraway on the Rim. Once there, he can’t be extradited, but he can be deported. Local laws make it virtually impossible for him to fence the jewels. He ends up going to jail and learns the name of a fence there. Upon looking up the fence, he learns that the jewels (which he stashed) have already been returned to the Shaara. He gets sent to jail again for the murder of the fence, and ends up press-ganged (as part of his sentence) into becoming a crew member aboard a ship that is leaving the galaxy entirely.

BRING BACK YESTERDAY

John Petersen misses his ship after sleeping with and doing drugs with a woman he met aboard ship. He can be shipped back to earth or move on to the rim – neither of which he is really keen to do. While staying at a spaceman’s hostel, he manages to find employment with a detective agency that is investigating a man who supposedly has invented a time machine. The detective agency is working for the Carinthian governments intelligence agency. The inventor, Fergus, has a colorful history behind him. It turns out that he has invented a one-way time machine for personalities only, and that those who use it are trapped in a repeating time cycle. Petersen learns this after meeting Fergus’ daughter Elspeth. Someone has been trying to kill Petersen as he has been investigating and I turns out to be Iron Man Maleter, a former dictator who wants the device to regain his empire. In a desperate bid to defeat Maleter, Petersen uses the device and remembers just enough to break the time cycle. Petersen and Elspeth escape with the help of the private detective.

THE ROAD TO THE RIM

Ensign John Grimes, recently graduated from the Federation Survey Service Academy is assigned to Delta Orionis, an ITC ship, for transportation to Lindisfarne Base. During the trip, the ship’s PRO receives a distress call from Epsilon Sextans, which has been attacked by pirates. Among the passengers killed aboard Epsilon Sextans is Delta Orionis’ Captain’s fiancé. The Captain determines to go hunting for the pirates. Cargo aboard Delta Orionis includes Survey Service weaponry being shipped to Lindisfarne base and, once Orionis rendezvous with Epsilon Sextans, Grimes helps install the weaponry on the ship and becomes part of the prize crew. (He is originally reluctant to participate as such use is illegal; during his trip he meets and loses his virginity to Jane Pentecost who is something of a recruiting agent for the Rim World’s nascent shipping line. This relationship contributes to Grimes changing his mind about joining the prize crew.) Mr. Baxter, a ship’s engineer and Rim Worlder, discovers a Carlotti tracking device in Epsilon Sextan’s hold, which was obviously used by the pirates to find the ship. (Carlotti technology is new at this time.) Epsilon Sextans is again attacked by the pirates once the tracking device is reactivated and Grimes successfully fights them off, destroying one in the process. Both ships are frigates of the Waldegren Navy, which has apparently been preying on shipping in and around the Rim Worlds for a while. Epsilon Sextans gives chase to the second frigate which is seeking shelter on Dartura, a Waldegren naval base. Upon arrival, they are both met by a Federation Survey Service fleet led by FSS Inflexible; the second Frigate is destroyed by Inflexible and Grimes, along with everyone else, learns that war has been declared between the Duchy of Waldegren and the Federation. Grimes is transferred to Inflexible.

Rimghost

Willoughby, serving with ITC, gets ill aboard Epsilon Pavonis while traveling to the Rim Worlds and, after getting out of hospital, takes employment with Rim Runners while awaiting repatriation to the Federation. He is assigned to Rimgirl by Commodore Grimes (Astronautical Superintendent for Rim Runners). During the trip, the ship’s PRO claims that his amplifier is scared and acting strangely; he himself then begins to act strangely, whereupon it is discovered that there is another ship, not detectable by the usual means, alongside theirs. It is another version of Rimgirl, down to the crew visible in the control room, including Willoughby. After observing each other for a while, the apparition vanishes. Aboard Rimgirl, the purser and the captain have been having an affair, and Willoughby has reason to believe that the purser – Mary, is interested in him. The view of the alternate Rimgirl leads Willoughby to believe that he ought to try to get together with Mary. Doing so gets him fired from the ship by the captain and he is reassigned to the Creole Queen, still waiting for repatriation.

THE HARD WAY UP (collection)

With Good Intentions

Grimes, now a Lieutenant, is assigned to Pathfinder, a survey ship. The ship’s mission is to conduct more thorough survey of habitable worlds previously discovered. One such system is Delta Sextans, two planets of which are potential colony worlds, Delta Sextans IV and Delta Sextans V. Grimes is assigned to lead the scientific party to the fourth world. While there and being badgered and ignored by the scientific crew, he conducts his own experiment with the semi-intelligent natives, taking a subordinate member of their pack and teaching it to use a weapon. Pathfinder’s captain is not amused but Grimes gets a good review from the leader of the scientific party. He also meets Margaret Lazenby for the first time, with whom he begins to develop a relationship.

The Subtractor

Lt. Grimes is dismissed from Pathfinder and on temporary duty on Lindisfarne Base. He is then assigned to command of Adder, a Serpent Class Courier. His first mission is to deliver a passenger, a Mr. Alberto, to Doncaster. Grimes and the crew believe Alberto to be a master chef. Once on Doncaster, Grimes meets Selma Madigan, at the University of Doncaster. Doncaster is close to several non-human empires (Hallichek Hegemony and Shaara Superhive), and there are a fair number of non-humans attending the university. Selma is helping to start a political party amongst them all. Grimes saves Selma from an assassination attempt by Mr. Alberto, killing Mr. Alberto in the process. It turns out that Mr. Alberto was employed by the ‘Department of Socio-Economic Science. Its head, Dr. Barratin, believes he can forecast the future mathematically and employs Mr. Alberto to make adjustments. Mr. Alberto is known as ‘the subtractor’, and, of course, Grimes’s ship is the ‘Adder’.

The Tin Messiah

Grimes is assigned to deliver a Mr. Adam to Delacron from Lindisfarne Base. Mr. Adam is a highly sophisticated self-aware robot. Somehow, Mr. Adam sways Mr. McCloud, the engineer, into helping him re-wire the ship’s computer so that it becomes self-aware and an ally of Mr. Adam’s. Mr. Adam is electrocuted by the computer and the official explanation is that the computer, briefly self-aware, remained loyal to its captain and crew.

Sleeping Beauty

Grimes and crew are sent to Droomoor, a Shaara world, to pick up a package and deliver it to Brooum, another Shaara world. The Federation is currently on good terms with the Shaara Super-Hive. The delivery is the egg of a Shaara Queen; there has been a viral epidemic on Brooum that wiped out all of the Princesses and Queens of egg-laying age. While traveling between Droomoor and Brooum, Adder’s Manschenn Drive breaks down and the Shaara Queen hatches. She seizes mental control of the crew and it is not until Grimes gives her liquor that her powers are diminished. Repairs are effected and the Queen is delivered, but she remains an alcoholic and is very attached to Grimes.

The Mountain Movers

Adder delivers fleet mail to the Federation base on Olgana and the crew is given shore leave. Olgana was originally a lost colony established on a planet already inhabited by an intelligent race. Grimes goes on holiday with Deane to the continent of Nevernever. They meet two Australian school teachers also on vacation and visit Cragge Rock, the largest monolith in known space. During a demonstration of native dance, Deane and the school teachers are overcome by their racial memories (all are Australians), claiming they have the blood of the ‘Old Ones’ in them; Cragge Rock turns out to be an enormous space ship that is activated by Deane’s psionic abilities and he pilots the ship off Olgana, taking the natives ‘back where they belong’.

What You Know

Grimes and crew are detailed to transport Mrs. Commissioner Dalwood, a member of the Federation Board of Admiralty, to Dhartana. During the trip there is a complete shut down of the Manschenn Drive and they are forced to call for help. The closest ship that can offer a tow is a ship of the Skandian Navy, an independent empire that is ‘barely on speaking terms with the Federation. They are taken to Skandia for reapairs, against Dalwood’s protests. Once there, they meet the King of Skandia, who is quite smitten with Dalwood. Repairs are made and Dalwood is delivered to Dhartana. Grimes finally receives his promotion to Lt. Commander, most likely as a bribe from Dalwood for keeping his mouth shut about Dalwood's affair.

Chance Encounter

A crew is assembled to transport the ITC Epsilon Pavonis to the Rim Worlds, where it has been sold to Rim Runners Inc. Epsilon Pavonis will be refitted as a survey ship and is renamed Faraway Quest. Captain Grimes, Superintendant of Rim Runners, offers Pavonis’ crew positions on the Quests crew as he searches for inhabited worlds along the rim. Ken Wilberforce, 3rd mate of Pavonis accepts the 2nd officers position. Peter Morris, Pavonis’ PRO, takes the PRO position. After visiting many worlds and discovering nothing but uninhabited worlds or worlds with undeveloped life forms, Morris picks up another ship. It is the Lowanni ship Listra from the Dain Worlds. Aboard the ship is Erin, the female PRO. Morris and Erin were ‘destined’ to meet, as seen in visions by both of them previously. Grimes and Captain Sanara of the Listra agree to allow Erin and Morris meet midway between the two ships to exchange gifts and representative samples of their cultures. When the two make contact, they explode. It turns out that the Lowanni and the Dain Worlds are anti-matter worlds.

Planet of Ill Repute

Bill Barret serves aboard the Matthew Flinders survey ship when it makes a sweep through the Shakespearean Sector and discovers Lishaar. Lishaar is a garden world and, because its people are undeveloped, it is proscribed. Watkins, a sub-lieutenant aboard the Flinders, along with several other crew members, are caught after sneaking some Lishaaran women aboard prior to the ship’s leaving for Earth. They are arrested and face serious charges, but Barret arranges for their escape from the ship when it lands on Calydon before returning to Earth (Barret owes Watkins for having saved his life earlier). Years later, Barret makes a return visit to Lishaar; the crew of an ITC ship put in there for emergency repairs and discovered a spaceport and trading post – clear violations of the Protection of Undeveloped Peoples Act. Once on Lishaar, they discover that Watkins is responsible and he is returned to Earth for trial.

Drift

A man and his girlfriend observe a meteor land not far from them; upon investigation it appears to be some kind of man-made object. The military take over the investigation. Many years later, the man – a merchant seaman – encounters an astronomer passenger who worked on the object. It was some kind of message in a bottle from a starship. The texts found inside are in a very ancient script – possible from Atlantis – implying that the ship was from an ancient space-faring civilization on Earth

The ITC ship Delta Cygni puts in to a ‘ghost planet’ – Weldon, for repairs to their drive. While there, the mate and a passenger go exploring the old spaceport and encounter the ghost of someone who must have worked there; this followed an attack by wild dogs and the setting in motion of a stored MD unit by a ricochet shot; later, a copy of a log book is found and the last entry refers to the (then) personnel at the base seeing ghosts of a man and woman. Is it possible that the movement of the MD caused the two timelines to merge briefly?

Seeing Eye

A crewman is seriously injured when his ship is hit with an anti-matter meteor; among other injuries, he is blinded. Once back on Earth, he takes up writing to earn a living. His wife introduces him to an editor of a magazine, who tells him of the Marsh Cats of Bronsonia, who serve as eyes and ears for injured people through some kind of telepathic mechanism. He goes to Bronsonia and acquires a Marsh Cat. Once back home with his wife, he discovers that she was having an affair with the magazine editor and that the Marsh Cat is jealous – the Marsh Cat reveals the affair. In a rage, the crewman tries to kill the Marsh Cat which ends up jumping into a trash disposal to escape.

Operation Starquest

The Star Quest is sent to a planet to rescue a lost colony after a message capsule is found. Once there, they discover the ship – Lode Star – and what appear to be survivors, however unlikely that is. They rescue a survivor in spacesuit from attacking locals, only to discover that the ship’s crew is long dead and that the ‘survivor’ is an alien child playing ‘cowboys and indians’

The Cage

A lodejammer settles on a barely habitable planet after getting lost; the ship blows up from damage shortly after landing and the passengers and crew lose all of their artifacts to action of the local fungi; some of them are captured by aliens and placed on display in a zoo; all methods of convincing the aliens that they are intelligent fail, until they capture a small rodent-like creature and keep it as a pet; caging animals convinces the aliens that they are intelligent.

TO PRIME THE PUMP

John Grimes is posted to Aries which is sent on an emergency mission to El Dorado – richest planet in the galaxy. Once there, Grimes is nearly killed on several occasions which turn out to be murder attempts by Princess Marlene von Stolzberg. She is not working alone, however. El Dorado was terraformed and as a result was never imbued with the ‘spark’ of life. As a result, no one has been able to conceive the next generation for El Dorado. Through various arcane practices, including voodoo, the El Doradans have determined that someone must be killed in order to ‘prime the pump’ of life, and Grimes was the unwilling sacrifice. The Princess falls for Grimes and gives up in her attempts and everyone is in despair when one of the ringleaders, Comte de Messigny, is killed by a robot cart, thus solving the problem for everyone. Grimes and the Princess have a brief affair and, naturally, she becomes pregnant. Aries departs to assist in rescue operations and, later, to put down a mutiny aboard the Dog Star Lines Corgi.

THE BROKEN CYCLE

John Grimes is on Lindisfarne Base awaiting assignment ot his next posting. Una Freeman, newly minted member of the Corps of Sky Marshalls, an interstellar police force created to thwart hijackings and pirating arrives, seeking official assistance from the Survey Service in recovering Delta Geminorum, which was pirated and has an undetonated nuclear bomb on board, which failed to go off once the pirates left the ship. Despite inter-service rivalry, the Survey Service ultimately relents and provides Una with a pinnace and boarding party, led by Grimes. They are transported to the vicinity of the derelict by Skink, a Lizard Class courier captained by Lt. Commander Francis Delamere, Grimes bete noir. Neither is happy with the situation. While attempting the initial boarding a Carlotti transmission from the pinnace activates the bomb and Grimes and Una find themselves adrift with no stars, Skink or anything else in site. The two spend several weeks screwing around (literally) before repairing the Carlotti and mini-manschenn drive. They are captured by a robotic entity, Panzen, which is a disciple of an all-powerful machine that is attempting to repopulate the Galaxy with humans it will then care for. Grimes and Una are set up in an Eden-like preserve, protected and guarded by two golden robotic bicycles, where they are expected to act the roles of Adam and Eve. Una refuses to cooperate and Grimes reluctantly agrees. Ultimately, they are flung back into their own time and space when Panzen realizes they will never be happy and will never cooperate.

SPARTAN PLANET

Grimes, promoted and now Captain of Seeker III, a true survey vessel, is assigned to make a census sweep of a relatively unexplored sector of space. They ultimately land on Sparta, a world entirely devoid of women and who's culture is a twisted version of the ancient Greek city-state of the same name. Brasidus, a member of the Spartan military's police battallion believes, like most other Spartans, that humans evolved on Sparta and that conditions there are normal. However, while visiting his boyfriend at the Creche (where the 'birth machine' is housed) he encounters one of the Doctors (keepers of the birth machine and a powerful, elite class) and feels that the doctor is hiding something. He brings this to the attention of the commander of the military's intelligence service (who we later learn has designs on seizing power himself) and is reassigned to the intelligence branch and given instructions to investigate the creche and the doctors further. Meanwhile, Seeker has landed and the Spartans who receive them are over-awed, mystified and just a bit put-off by the 'alien' members of Seeker's crew as represented by Maggie Lazenby. They have never seen a human female and mistakenly believe they are an inferior alien race that has nevertheless been accorded status by the human representaves of the Federation. Because Maggie Lazenby is from Arcadia, the Spartans wrongly begin calling the human females Arcadians. Brasidus encounters an 'Arcadian' in the creche and the secret that the Spartan doctors have been withholding begins to leak out. The King of Sparta agrees to allow Seeker's crew shore leave and to allow its scientists to explore and investigate. Brasidus is assigned to escort Maggie Lazenby and feels a strange attraction to her. A female member of Seeker's crew is raped in a bar ('He' was the best sex the rapists ever had). Maggie discovers that the 'inferior' children that are exposed on the hillsides are actually perfectly normal female babies. The head of Spartan military intelligence uses these incidents to lead a revolt and attack on the Creche where the 'Arcadians' are being held (why should the doctors keep them all to themselves?). Brasidus, in attempting to rescue his boyfriend from the mob attacking the Creche, is seen by Maggie who is watching the action from Seeker's pinnace and she drops in to help him, drawing Seeker into the fray when she gets trapped in the Creche. Working with Brasidus and the King, the crew of Seeker quell the rebellion. Maggie reveals that her research into the history of Sparta shows that it is a lost colony, founding by the ITC ship Doric and a misogynistic geneticist.

THE INHERITORS

Seeker once again discovers another lost colony - Morrowvia - founded by Lode Couger, an Ehrenhaft drive ship of the second expansion. Survey Service intelligence learns of the colony from rumors leaked by crewman of a Dog Star Line ship that stumbled upon the colony when landing on a planet for repairs. Grimes and crew are sent to investigate. They arrive at Morrowvia at virtually the same time as another Dog Star Line ship that is seeking to establish exclusive trade relations with the colony and with Southerly Buster, owned and operated by Drongo Kane, a man notorius for money-making schemes that are just shy of breaking the law. It soon becomes apparent that Kane is going to enslave Morrowvian women. Grimes somewhat reluctantly intervenes, causing Southerly Buster to crash while stopping her from lifting off with a cargo of females. Its become apparent that the Morrowvians are 'underpeople', genetic constructs drawn from feline stock, and underpeople are not considered citizens of the Federation. However, in searching the records of Lode Couger, Maggie Lazenby discovers that the colony's original leader - Morrow - interbred with his creations and, under the law, the ability to interbreed confers citizenship. Kane doubts the validity of the history, but it is proven to be true when one of the Morrowvian women presents a junior officer of the Dog Star line with the child they conceived together.