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First Lensman

(Lensman #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,264 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Secret Planet

No human being had ever landed on the hidden planet of Arisia. A mysterious barrier, hanging unseen in space, turned back all ships. Then the word came to Earth, inexplicably but compellingly:

Virgil Samms, founder of the Galactic Patrol, went - and came back with the Lens, the strange device that gave its wearer powers no man had ever possessed
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1982 by Panther Books (first published 1950)
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Brian Dembkoski I'm assuming the book, itself?

You can get it on Amazon, but oddly enough, I found it for free, digitally, on a Canadian Public Domain site, and it…more
I'm assuming the book, itself?

You can get it on Amazon, but oddly enough, I found it for free, digitally, on a Canadian Public Domain site, and it actually had far fewer typos and errors than my purchased/print version. I found link through the Wikipedia page for this book.(less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Start your review of First Lensman (The Lensman Series, #2)
SHAZBOT...another bitter, CLASSIC disappointment. I’m not sure who E.E. Smith was sleeping with or what incriminating photos of the publisher he had stashed away, but this book is a stool sample. It started as a wonderful buffet of big ideas and interesting concepts. However, once digested and squeezed through the pen of Mr. Smith, it became eminently flushable.

From a historical perspective, this book has a strong pedigree as the Lensmen Saga is the series most often cited as paving the way for
Manuel Antão
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1995
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Willing Suspension of Disbelief: “The First Lensman” by E. E. Doc Smith

"Nobody does anything for nothing. Altruism is beautiful in theory, but it has never been known to work in practice."

In “The First Lensman” by E. E. Doc Smith

In many or most written SF, certainly in SF films, the canny audience member engages in a willing suspension of disbelief. The question for me often comes down to just a couple considerations--is it a bridge
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this episode Virgil Samms, our square jawed handsome hero is called telepathically to Arisia, the planet that has hitherto been off limits to all the races of the Galaxy.

He returns having been judged of suitable character and intelligence by the Arisians to wield a "lens". This gives its wearer unheard of mental powers, but with this power comes great responsibility.

In the meantime the Eldorians (boo) have been led to believe that the Ariaians (hooray) pose no threat to them whatsoever and so
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a fairly direct sequel to "Triplanetary," which is now almost universally regarded as the opening salvo in E. E. "Doc" Smith's famed Lensman series, Book 2, perhaps misleadingly titled "First Lensman," was actually the last of the six books comprising this most famous of all Golden Age space operas to be written. As I mentioned in my review of Book 1, Smith had originally written Books 3 through 6 over the 13-year period 1934 – '47, but then felt that something in the order of a prequel ...more
"In the not too distance future, while fleets of commercial space ships travel between the planets of numerous solar systems, a traveler named Virgil Samms visits the planet Arisia. There he becomes the first wearer of the Lens, the almost-living symbol of the forces of law and order. As the first Lensman, Samms helps to form the Galactic Patrol, a battalion of Lensmen who are larger than life heroes. These solders are the best of the best, with incredible skills, stealth, and drive. They are ...more
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

One can see the great influence that this work has had on TV science fiction and comic books like the 60's/present day version of "The Green Lantern," but I'm not sure why.

Smith's writing is very stilted. It's worth it to muddle through this just to understand the scope of its influence, but I can't continue with this series. It's too dated and the writing is too poor.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Title: First Lensman

Series: Lensman, Book 2

Author: "Doc" E. E. Smith

Genre: Science Fiction

Smith continues his epic Lensman series in First Lensman. The Arisians are continuing to monitor and influence the development of four different races in the galaxy, specifically interested in the human race from Tellus (or Earth). Where Triplanetary, the first book in the series, literally took the reader back to the very beginning of the conflict between the Eddorians and the Arisians, describing the
Storyline: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 1/5

I read these 1950s pulp fiction classics more out of devotion to the genre than for the pleasure of the actual book. In most regards this typifies the space operas of the 1940s and early 50s: damsel, hero, and villain characters; choppy action sequences; and awful dialogue. In a couple of areas this is a vast improvement, however, over the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp era. Smith spent a lot of his wordcount and effort on addressing potential
William Rood
Classic space opera, and very possibly the canonical example of the genre, as massive fleets assemble to create and defend civilization, whilst a hero is elevated to god like powers and abilities, and a new force to save the universe if established. No, this is not star wars, its Lensmen! Sadly, however, it is lost in the campy and often misogynistic rhetoric of the age Dr Smith lived in. The sense of Flash Gordon-esc / dime store novels / serial radio programs from the first installment still ...more
Megan Baxter
My expectations on sitting down to this book were not high. The previous Doc Smith book I'd read was not that impressive and had a bunch of casual racism, even though it was, for the time period, not too bad for how it depicted women.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Aaron Slack
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The First Lensman

Classic space opera. It is hard to rate a book that has had such an influence on everything that came after it - Dune, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Ender's Game to name a few - so that it doesn't seem original at all. It is often compared to Asimov's Foundation, but I found the Foundation trilogy much more compelling, with a much deeper plot line. The writing styles are similar, and both are examples of what I call "Grand Humanism" in science fiction (man conquers the galaxy, etc),
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Although I enjoyed Triplanetary, the set-up novel for this extended series of classic science-fiction, I still didn’t really understand what the big deal was. I’d heard people rave about these books and insist that games and films should be derived from them. I’d even seen a Lensman anime back in the ‘80s and I understand there was a Lensman board game back in 1969. But while there were some good moments in Triplanetary, it didn’t really explain the hype.

Well, I can’t say that about First
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After avoiding open conflict throughout "Triplanetary," it's refreshing to open this book with Gharlan of Eddore in his human form as Gray Roger attempting to use some high-tech "magic" bullets to kill a Norwegian scientist in The Hill housing the consciousness of his Arisian adversary and fail utterly, only to be out-manouvered in every respect.

So it's in this book where the Green Lantern Corps... er... no, the Galactic Patrol of Lensmen is finally founded. Too bad that unlike the GL Corps,
Rex Libris
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The good aliens who are guiding history to a positive outcome give the galactic patrol a device called a "lens" which, among other powers, allows them to communicate telepathically. United by the lens, the patrol goes about eradicating bad guys and turning people to a peaceful, pluralistic, democratic way of life.

The series is a forerunner of Star Wars/Star Trek mindsets. Good and evil are clearly defined and people perfectible.
The second prequel to the Lensman series, set a few years after Triplanetary. Virgil Samms, head of the newly formed Solarian Patrol, has a number of problems. The first is that the inertialess drive makes interstellar travel easy, so that criminals can commit crimes and then flee to strange planets where tracking them down is impossible. Other than that there’s dirty politics (Operation Maltese), illegal narcotics (Operation Zwilnik), piracy (Operation Boskone), and, um, odd signals coming out ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The entire Lensman series is just a bit of fanboy crushing for me.

It was one of, if not the first space opera series I happened upon as a teen and loved every page of. And it just so happened to be one of the greatest sci-fi series of all time.

Well that's what I thought at the time. And in a way I still do. It certainly isn't gritty, the dialog is dated and a tad sexist (women cant wear a lens because why???) and some of the science is a bit fanciful and wide of the mount, but this is pure
James Stewart
I first started reading the Lensman series when I wasn't even a teenager yet. I remember, when I was partly through the series, reading in Analog magazine about the announcement for Skylark DuQuesne, shortly before "Doc" Smith died. And I remember just blasting through the Lensman and the Skylark series and just absolutely adoring them. I made my mother crazy trying to relate the excitement I felt about the books.

I decided to re-read this book, and... I got through it. This book simply has not
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be very much a product of its time, and would have said two stars except there is that spark of something more.

The style comes directly out of boys' adventure books, only the moralizing is tempered. Brains are extremely important, but so is brawn and physical perfection. A Real Man is at least 6 feet tall, a natural athlete, and at the top of his class. Physical beauty is usually linked to moral superiority.

E.E. Smith takes that one step further and makes the women also
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second installment in E E "Doc" Smith's wonderful series. Virgil Samms is contacted by an alien race - the Arisians - who do mental battle with the Eddorians. Samms is invited to come to Arisia, where he becomes the First Lensman. Equipped with his new, psychically attuned, personalized Lens, he searches the galaxy for other potential Lensmen - men of such high mental quality and impeccable integrity that corruption isn't in their nature.

But as with all things good, evil wants no part with
Raymond Ford
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: old-time-sci-fi
OK - Well Triplanetary was a bit of a head scratcher, but definitely fun with the hardy-boys-esque adventure, but First Lensman is where this series starts to take off (clear ether). E.E. Doc Smith was a true sci-fi adventure writer. There are only a few in his class (i.e. Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein) who can let their space adventure imaginations run wild. Today I think things are more stilted...

In First Lensman we are allowed into deeper thought experiments with the introduction of the Lens
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
First read this and the whole Lensman series in the Seventies, and every so often have re-read them. Don’t bother with so called book 7 - Masters of The Vortex - as it’s not part of the main narrative and only very vaguely related.
Books 1 to 6 though are cheesy, space opera through and through, sheer popcorn entertainment with sweeping galaxy wide plots and the clunkiest dialogue and prose this side of Alpha Centauri.
Don’t read if you’re after hard-boiled sci-fi but if you just want some
Warren Dunham
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
yet again fun yet again don't expect a message, and sexism. We learn that the lenses cannot be used by women, which is odd because we also see several other races that use alternate reproduction methods.
This book deals with a little more spy craft and a little election excitement, but there is also a story line involving a big space battle. It actually does a little bit of everything and it is an improvement from the first book.
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second book in what is IMHO the best Space Opera series of all time. Book 2 introduces the Lens and first lensman Virgil Samms.
The only bad part was the eBook was horrible. It was unacceptably loaded with typos and grammatical errors. If I didn't love the book so much I would never have continued reading it.
Some of the original Space Opera. I remember liking the Lensman books quite a lot as a kid but when I tried to rereading one as an adult it didn't do much for me. Still, I'm going to give them 3 stars. They were pretty full of action and adventure and imagination, but the writing is pretty bad in general
Warren Fournier
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In response to some of the criticism of some reviewers of the "poor writing" in this and other entries in the Lensman series, I do truly empathize with those who find the prose of the "Doc" to be a hard pill to swallow. It is his writing that primarily brings my overall rankings for these novels down. However, to call it garbage, fodder, or a stool sample is too much of a stretch. Would you similarly say that the work of Edmond Hamilton, John W. Campbell, Clifford Simak, Otto Willi Gail, Roger ...more
James Hogan
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
Published in 1950, this is a sci-fi throwback, no doubt!! I read the first book (Triplanetary) in this series last year, and it probably would have helped to read this book a little closer to that one, as the first few chapters of this definitely confused me a bit as I was attempting to remember the back story. All good though as I eventually got into the groove and enjoyed this rollicking space adventure! If you don't like old-fashioned books with old-fashioned ideals, you probably won't like ...more
Coming out the other end of this six book series, I'm underwhelmed and mostly just glad it's over. Not that this book was bad, but it's not just more of the same, it's less of the same.

For reference, I read #3, #4, #5, #6 then #1 and #2, because that's the order they were written in (and you really can tell).

But the magic of the first book (#3) is that while the characters are thinly drawn, a great deal of thought and creativity went into describing the various planets and the aliens who lived
Austin Wright
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five-stars for this work (technically Skylark) being one of the first Space Operas ever. I decided to read the two prequels ("Triplanetary" (1934) and "First Lensman"(1950)) before beginning the first novel: Galactic Patrol (1937).

Smith's style is (just barely) a precursor to Heinlein, and it is wonderful to read the novel within that mental-framework.

Out of the first three novels, my favorite was Triplanetary.

Jack Repenning
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The birthplace of Space Opera!

Considerably more literate and insightful than the Damon Runyon dialogue might suggest, the “Skylark” and "Lensmen” series virtually invented the genre that came to encompass Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Terminator. Although each novel stands well alone, the sweeping vision arc caries deep thought about what it means to be human, how to do it best, and in particular the proper role of Earth’s sole standing superpower.
Richard Wood
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have a soft spot for classic sci-fi, particularly in the comparison of the authors' views on future technology against today's position. This is a great example, although I found I lost my way in three or four places; the plot seemed to jump about a bit too much for me. (Perhaps if I re-read it a little slower it will become slightly clearer for me...? I'm going to tackle books 3 to 7 in the series first though!)
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Edward Elmer Smith (also E.E. Smith, E.E. Smith, Ph.D., E.E. “Doc” Smith, Doc Smith, “Skylark” Smith, or—to his family—Ted), was an American food engineer (specializing in doughnut and pastry mixes) and an early science fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of space opera.

Other books in the series

Lensman (7 books)
  • Triplanetary (Lensman, #1)
  • Galactic Patrol (Lensman, #3)
  • Gray Lensman (Lensman, #4)
  • Second Stage Lensmen (Lensmen, #5)
  • Children of the Lens (Lensman, #6)
  • Masters of the Vortex (Lensman, #7)