The Rim of Space
By A. Bertram Chandler
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They told Derek Calver that he'd find an odd bunch among the Rim Runners out on the edge of space: Refugees from the Interstellar Transport Commission from the Survey Service, the Waverly Royal Mail and the Trans-Galactic Clippers, and so on. But Calver didn't mind; he said he was a refugee from the Commission himself. He might have added that he was a refugee from Derek Calver, the mistakes he had made, the opportunities he had thrown away, the dreams that had been lost. And there, aboard the Lorn Lady, the worn-out obsolete ship that, like most of the others here, had once been a proud vessel of the inner worlds, he found Jane Arlen, who called herself "Calamity" Jane and avoided men for fear of the disaster she was sure she would bring them. One of Jane's first questions when she met Calver was: "Are you a happy drunk?" When he said “no,” she continued: "Then you're one of us. You'll make a real Rim Runner, skimming the edge of eternity in a super-annuated rust-bucket held together with old string and chewing gum and taking a masochistic pleasure in it. You have run from yourself until you can't run any farther, and there's a sort of desperate joy in that, too." Then she withdrew into her own private grief shutting Calver out as she shut everyone else out, and it was a relief to find a cultured woman tourist in port who didn't behave as if she were all knotted up inside. Only Calver had forgotten the articles he had signed when he became second officer of the Lorn Lady — the clauses that made him subject to court-martial by the Rim Runners organization for leaking information about his ship. He'd forgotten until the police came into the tavern. Here is a thrilling novel that sweeps the far, lonely edges of eternity.