The Fza's Reviews > Grey Lensman

Grey Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith
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Sep 09, 10

bookshelves: fiction, ya-fiction, speculative-fiction
Read from March 15 to May 08, 2010

I'm sure this had happened to everyone, you learn about something new to you and start seeing it everywhere.

It's like when you watched Monty Python and realize... 'yes, that song was in this movie' or 'that's where the name SPAM came from for unwanted in email' (or maybe that's just me).

If you have experienced something like that, then you may know what I was feeling when I learned about the Lensmen books?!

It all started when I was idly reading a wiki post on the DC comic book Green Lantern. I had recently been turned on to the GL Corps books as they are very SF.

The more I read, the more I was interested in what had happened before I started reading (that's how they get ya). As the whole Green Lantern books seem to be a strange series for the company that gave us Flash and Wonder Woman, I was looked into the Lanterns.

What I found was; the Green Lantern books were inspired by the Lensmen series... on top of that there was a cartoon, that I actually watched as a kid, that was based on these Lensman books (though only loosely).

Then it comes to light that 2 local SF Conventions are named after the 2 factions in the books:

Arisia
Boskone

I had a "wha-?" moment here!

While amazing coincidences, they may be, none of that is what had me reading these books.

What actually did get me to read the Lensman was a synopsis/review I read online. It was fascinating, and apparently most of it comes directly from the forward to this book in the series [see, cheaters may not prosper but their reads may].

The little article in question talked about how the story, sure, like how epic this story is, how amazingly encompassing. But some of the more interesting bits where the little things. Like how E.E. "Doc" Smith never uses computers in the story and you really don't even notice.

It also talks about how, to the new SF audience, these book seem to have become a largely forgotten part of Golden Age SF. Being the gem that it is, the writer notes that this is a huge loss. They even goes on to compare Smith's stories to those of van Vogt, Heinlein and Vinge.

That was the right review for me to read because those are authors of some of my favorite books.

Plus it they were not lying.... The story is amazing and so very different then most of the early SF stories I have read. And Kimball Kinnison, our hero for this and the previous book, is one of the most vicious heroes I've ever seen.

At one point Kim tries to exterminate an entire race when he deems them to be "evil". It is a most mind boggling tact for a "hero" to take, but it works. And it's the the type of moral gray actions that a Lensman may have to take when trying to protect, not just the human race, but all races striving towards unity and peace.

Believe me, after a book or two this will all makes sense. You won't believe how easily these story will take you away....

The story of the Lensmen and the Galactic Patrol started long before humans walked on Earth. It involves a struggle between two almost magical alien races. The Arisians, a peaceful race native to this galaxy, and the Eddorians, a dictatorial, power-hungry people from the another galaxy.

Each has tried to influence the words of our galaxy, one trying to keep us as a fractured and lose farm for war games. The other helping to build an interplanetary council to keep peace and promote prosperity among all the beings we meet as we dive further and further into the void.

Despite the rich tapestry of the future E. E. "Doc" Smith paints around the Lensman there can be no argument that this book is an action/adventure epic. The Lensmen, graduates of the Galactic Patrol's Academy, are hand picked to receive the symbol of the Patrol's authority: The Lens.

The Lens, a gift from the Arisians, gives its wearer a variety of mind-reading and telepathic capabilities, including those needed to enforce Galactic Patrol law on alien worlds as well as bridge the communication gap between all life-forms. The Lensman's lens cannot be worn by anyone other than its owner, killing any other wearer, and sublimates shortly after its owner's death.

The action in Gray Lensman (originally the second book in the series, prior to the addition of the two prequels) series picks up immediately where Galactic Patrol left off, in the middle of the final battle to destroy Lord Helmuth's main base and hopefully end the threat of the criminal empire known as "Boskone".

In the aftermath of destruction Kim Kinnison, unattached "Grey" Lensmen of the Galactic Patrol looks for clues to the mysterious origins of Boskone, the clandestine organization that had been controlling drugs and piracy in the galaxy.

From here Kim flies into action as only he can, straight into danger... first with an expedition into Lundmark's Nebula (soon to be known as the second galaxy), then to undercover work, pirate hunter, scout, and finally leader of a vast space fleet.

Yet there are still two more books to go. Kim's adventures may end here but the series has covered billions of years already, more is still to come. And a Kinnison will be at the heart...

I recommend this series for any Space Opera, Classic SF or Adventure fan.
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