Into The Alternate Universe – A Bertram Chandler (1964)
‘Others called their expedition a “wild ghost chase.” But for Space Commodore John Grimes and the beautiful Sonya Verrill who had initiated the project, it was strictly scientific research. Their trip along the rim of the galaxy in search of two men – two dead men – was also an investigation of the long-puzzling phenomenon of the Rim Ghosts. They would do this by penetrating into alternate universes.
There was only one real problem involved in this study – how to report its results. For once the breakthrough to an alternate world was achieved, there was no known way of getting out….’
Blurb from the 1964 Ace Doubles paperback edition
Commodore Grimes is bored being in charge of a spaceport, until he gets a visit from Sonya Verrill, a woman who can call on the resources of the Galactic Federation to mount a project to investigate Rim Ghosts. Rim Ghosts are (as the name would suggest) phantoms sighted on the Galactic rim and are thought to be visions of ourselves from the Alternate Universe. Verrill’s ulterior motive however is to reach the alternate universe and reunite with one of her dead lovers who may still be alive in the alternate reality.
Grimes selects a crew who have all had experience of sighting Rim Ghosts and they set off.
This is a minor work from Chandler, and contains some implausibilities (within the context of the internal reality) and unanswered questions.
Desperate to find some way of contacting the Rim Ghosts Grimes initiates a seance, to be run by Calhoun, a member of an odd spiritualist sect. They do indeed contact something, but it is a malign entity which flings them into a universe, empty but for the frozen remains of ancient seagoing vessels, aeroplanes and spaceships.
They spend the rest of the novel exploring their surroundings and trying to get back.
It comes across as a very hurried piece of work in which Chandler intended to go to the Alternate Universe (which they do, very briefly, before hopping back home) but got distracted by his dark Sargasso of Space place.