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(Lensman #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  6,222 ratings  ·  455 reviews
From the atomic age in Atlantis to a world remote in space and time, two incredible ancient races, the Arisians and the Eddorians, are in the midst of an interstellar war with Earth as the prize. The Arisians, using advanced mental technology, have foreseen the invasion of their galaxy by the corrupt and evil Eddorians, so they begin a breeding program on every planet in t ...more
Paperback, 287 pages
Published December 28th 1997 by Old Earth Books (first published 1948)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  6,222 ratings  ·  455 reviews

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Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I've heard people rave about how Doc Smith's work was one of the early space operas and that it influenced many later science fiction masterpieces. This may be true, but I'm thinking that just because it was influential, doesn't mean I have to like it. And I don't much.

It's been pointed out by others that this book hasn't aged well, and maybe that's my problem with it. Then again, the Hardy Boys haven't aged well, and I still (guilty pleasure alert) like some of the series. But I read those as
Manuel Antão
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1995
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Realistic Sounding Nonsense: "Triplanetary" E.E. "Doc" Smith

"Immediately before the Coalescence began there was one,and only one, planetary solar system in the Second Galaxy; and, until the advent of Eddore, the Second Galaxy was entirely devoid of intelligent life"

In "Triplanetary" by E. E. "Doc" Smith

There are only three real approaches to physics in SF:

1. Absolute hard core real physics with speculative aspects;
2. Realistic sounding
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't trust my rating of this book; it's part of my childhood, when I read it over and over again, and I have no way of objectively rating it.

For reasons I no longer recall, I got rid of these books at some point, probably during a house move when I was trying to de-clutter. I found all seven in the series in a second hand book shop a few years ago and, struck by nostalgia, I bought them all. Reading them again, I found that the clunky writing, the cardboard characters, the outdated social mores
Graeme Rodaughan
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of incredible interstellar heroics.
Super Spy Scandal! 19 yo Socialite Sparks Interstellar War! "Miss Marsden will have a lot of explaining to do when she gets back home." - Triplanetary Tattler.

Supreme Council Shocker! We Are Not Alone! "These so-called 'Arisians,' fancy themselves our equals. Of course, we will soon demonstrate our superiority." - Eddorian Bugle.

Watchman Howler! N-Dimensional Chess Game Abandoned! "Well, we were kinda left considering an infinite number of moves..." - Arisian Post

Re-reading this classic from my
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Reading Bishop Barnes's rather interesting Scientific Theory and Religion earlier this evening, I was reminded of E.E. Doc Smith's dreadful space opera series. Both authors, writing in the early 30s, are extremely concerned about current theories of planetary formation; this was the period when most scientists believed that the Solar System started when another star had a near miss with our own sun, dragging matter out of it by tidal forces. I am kind of surprised that so many people took this t ...more
Shannon Haddock
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review is of the shorter, original version, because I somehow grabbed that one instead of the other one from Project Gutenberg.

Whether or not Triplanetary is a good book depends on one’s expectations, I guess. I was expecting, due to it’s age, a pulpy adventure. That’s exactly what I got. If you are wanting something more cerebral or otherwise more suited to modern tastes, I suggest reading something else.

The characters are pretty much archetypes, but such wonderful examples of them that I
I'm not terribly ashamed to admit I like Doc Smith, since I'm in good company (see Robert Heinlein's "Larger than Life"). Heinlein's apology for Smith covers most of the usual criticisms: the hackneyed dialogue, the Mauve Decade values, the liberal use of space opera stereotypes such as bug-eyed monsters (although note, please, that these hadn't been overused yet during Smith's time).

But I secretly hope that, in a different life, I too might wear the Lens....and in any case, to be a credit to th
Len Evans Jr
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars... will write my review in a bit once it has all sunk in. Right now I am of two minds on this book. ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
In its article on the subject of "Space Opera," my beloved "Science Fiction Encyclopedia" describes the genre thus: "…loosely applicable to any space adventure story, but particularly to those in which the scale of the action is extravagant...." It is as good a working definition as any, but had the authors of this scholarly tome wished to do so, they might just as easily have explained the term by showing pictures of the six book covers of E.E. "Doc" Smith's famed Lensman series. Written over t ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really started something when I picked up this book. We were in NYC. It was 3 weeks after our wedding. I found The Lensmen series at one of those New York bookstores you go to just so you can say you have been there and I bought the first three books in the series.
I read a lot of these old pulp science fiction series back in high school, Doc Savage being my favorite. My new husband was a fantasy fan, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Zelazny's Amber books. I had no idea he was going to latch onto these
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I only heard of the Lensman series recently. In his introduction to the copy of Foundation that I just read, Isaac Asimov said he was surprised when his series won the Hugo Award for best series of all time in 1966, because he was sure J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings would win. (This didn't make sense to me, since Tolkien's work isn't sci-fi, it's fantasy, but whatever.) The other series that were up for consideration were Robert A. Heinlein's "future history" series, Edgar Rice Burroughs ...more
Paul  Perry
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have to give the Lensman books at least four stars for their nostalgia value, and that they began me on a life of love for science fiction. I'll have read them first in my very early teens, probably around the time of the original Star Wars trilogy, on which they are no doubt a huge influence. I think these are probably the finest of 'Doc' Smith's ripping space adventures - powered by derring do and the fight for justice, with square jawed heroes and their beautiful women, a World's Fair-type ...more
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I had heard that this series had dated badly but didn't think that would be a problem for me but I think for once it was. It's not just that the science that has dated (and boy has that dated), it's the dialogue too. 1930's American slang really began to grate on me after a while and demonstrates a truism I think; steer clear of the slang (either real or imagined) because, no matter how cool it might seem at the time, it will only look silly in years to come.

But at the end of the day, it's not j
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, pulp
Old fashioned space opera.

Two ancient races battle for the universe, and Earth is a battleground, only most earthling don't know it.

It sounds like something I'd like, but surprisingly, it simply didn't hit the spot. I think it was the combining Lovecraftian and Cold War elements into the same novel.
1.5 stars. Classic "space opera" by one of the fathers of the genre. First in the Lensman Series. Not horrible (though the dialogue at times made me wince), but I didn't really like either. This seems to be the weakest entry of the Lensman saga though it does set the stage well for the later novels. ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, grandpa was right!

Many (many) years ago my grandfather tried to interest me in E.E. Smith's Lensman series. He failed then, but the books somehow remained with me, always hovering at the edge of my consciousness. Now that I've finished Triplanetary I can honestly say: Grampa, you were so right! This is military-type, space-opera SF at its pulpy best. The pacing is lightning quick, the action unrelenting. It's a really, really fun read from first page to last. Yes, the characters are a bit "
Jul 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In which scientific detail would not be bothered about, and in which his imagination would run riot," Smith’s biographer Harry Smith said of the Lensman stories. And how.

Interesting more as a historical document than as literature, this includes the 1934 story which was the first Lensman story of classic science fiction. The writing is over-the-top, the characters heroic and chauvinistic, but it’s all great fun. The books influenced military development and future science fiction. (George Lucas
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was ok

I tried to like this, I really did. Some books age well but this one does not stand the test of time. I can see the seeds that planted in later sci-fi authors and there are some great ideas here, but I found it was poorly written and at times the author really didn't seem to know where he was planning on going and it meandered a lot.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I suppose it was about time for me to read this first volume in the famous Lensman series. After all, I’m pretty sure this epic science-fiction series was the inspiration for Steve “Slug” Russell’s Spacewar!, arguably the template for computer games as developed in the early ‘60s. But I kept trying to fill in the gaps in the series before I started it and now, I have all but one of the volumes. So, I read Triplanetary. It was a surprise.

It was a surprise because the first 80 pages or so served m
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-rev, reviewed
3.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

In a collision of galaxies, two powerful races begin eons-long opposition, played out through manipulation of lesser races, including humans. Much later, the Triplanetary government of Earth, Mars, and Venus, deploys its immense fleet against pirates, but is devastated by a number of mysterious and unexpected opponents.

E. E. Smith's Lensman series, which begins here, is a classic of pulp science fiction. It's one I grew up with, several decades after its first app
Nutshell: first third chronicles intergalactic duel between super-species, through proxies on earth, mostly; remainder involves virtually unrelated space opera contest between overachiever earthlings and trespassing pisceans.

Advertised as the first Lensman book, I’m not really seeing any of the items made famous by that series. Opening section indicates that super-species brought down Atlantis and Rome, and then are involved with the three world wars of the 20th century. No idea what all that ha
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
For a pulp sci-fi novel, it's very well-written. What became tedious to me, though, was scene after scene of vast, hideous destruction, described in pretty much the same terms every time, and in such a way that it somehow failed to be horrible.

What I mean is that hundreds, thousands or millions of humans or aliens were being killed, and because they had no names and no faces and the named characters were all stiff-upper-lip about it, the horror of war was minimised and it became mere fireworks.
Nov 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the worst books I've ever read. The first half was stapled on in 1948 as a sort of prequel to the Lensman novels. The back half was the original story from 1934. Most fascinating is the anti-fascism fears mixed with cold war era fears as a result of being written at different times.

All that said...ugh.
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Supposedly the granddaddy of all space opera, I was steered onto EE Doc's series hoping to do find the great opus that inspired everything from Babylon 5 to the Green Lantern. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to this dusty piece of 30s pulp.

The stories were apparently standalones to begin with, but rewritten and retconned into his big lensmaster series to cash in. This isn't done very successfully, especially in the first few where it all seems very tacked on. Yet even were it all see
Jeff Stockett
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I really liked this book. It did take me a little while to get into it, but once I did I was really hooked.

I love the idea of epic stories, histories that span the eons. This is just such a story. Eddore and Arisia have been in conflict since before the dawn of man. Unknowingly, many of our battles throughout history have actually taken place on a larger galactic stage, and have had puppet strings pulled by greater masters.

I loved the idea of the galactic power struggle. I loved how it shaped hu
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a bit deceived with this one, but it is my fault. I assumed that classic was synonymous with quality but this is not the case. Triplanetary deserves its place in the history of the genre for the innovative approach at the time and because serialized space operas (pulps) were a very popular form of science fiction in its beginnings.

In a near future, I hope, a bit more explained on the blog: V'ger willing ;-)
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-space-opera
I first read this book probably 40 years ago now, as a young lad. I enjoyed it then and enjoyed it again this time. Whilst it has dated a little even from the 70s if you bear that in mind it is still a far reaching and enjoyable book.
Looking forward to the rest of the series I got for my birthday. Woo hoo.
Nigel Mitchell
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review is for any modern reader who didn't grow up reading pulp fiction from the 1930's. This probably isn't the story for you. "Triplanetary" is a classic science fiction story, but it doesn't hold up well compared to modern fiction.

I was born in the seventies, so this story is about forty years ahead of my time to begin with, but I'm a big fan of pulp sci-fi. While a lot of it is cheesy and thin compared to works of today, I enjoy the over-the-top action, and lack of concern for scientifi
Dwayne Roberts
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Written soon after the second world war and the first nuclear warfare, Triplanetary relays the feel of a war between races, between cultures and technologies, and between foes with planet-threatening weapons. The final battle reminded me of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In some ways, I felt as if I were reading a comic book. The characters seemed stiff and shallow, but heroic. I may read Lensman #2, but I'm not enthusiastic about it.
Ian Slater
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is something of a fix-up, and, as a result of how it was expanded, it is decidedly episodic.

E.E. Smith took an early short novel, from 1934, which provides the cover title, dusted it off, revised it to serve as Book Three, and fitted it with preludes in the form of Book One ("Dawn") and Book Two ("The World War"), each of which contained three short stories. It appeared as a book in 1948, from the short-lived Fantasy Press, part of a small but important wave of reprinting magazine scie
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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)
  • First Lensman (Lensman, #2)
  • 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)

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