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Gray Lensman

(Lensman #4)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,338 ratings  ·  114 reviews
The action in Gray Lensman picks up immediately where Galactic Patrol left off, in the middle of the battle to destroy Helmuth's Main Base and, it is hoped, fully end the threat of Boskone. After the base falls, Kinnison finds some clues that lead him to think that Helmuth was perhaps not the head of Boskone after all. The clues lead Kinnison to mount an expedition aboard ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Old Earth Books (first published 1951)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  3,338 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera
Sometimes, I'm a fool. I thought, perhaps, that the "so called" golden age of sci-fi before Heinlein would be as painful to read as the old Jules Verne. I even tried to read the first ten pages of the first book of the Lensman of E. E. Smith PHD and cringed down to my soul. I was thinking that nothing would be worth the pain of reading this trash. And yet, all of my favorite past couple of generations of sci-fi authors swore by the old doc, and there are still generations of readers that are sur ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although the events of Book 4 in E. E. "Doc" Smith's famed LENSMAN series, "Gray Lensman," pick up mere seconds after those of its predecessor, "Galactic Patrol," this latest installment actually first appeared over 1 ½ years later. Whereas "Galactic Patrol" had initially appeared as a six-part serial in the September 1937 – February 1938 issues of "Astounding" magazine, "Gray Lensman" had its debut as a four-part serial (even though it is a longer story than that in Book 3) in "Astounding"'s Oc ...more
This is an old science fiction series and I have experienced difficulty in finding all the volumes at the appropriate time. As a result, I had given up on finding this volume and went ahead and read the remainder. Then surprisingly, just before Christmas, I found Gray Lensman in my local second-hand book store. Being a bit of a completionist, I grabbed it and added it to my stack of sci-fi for 2015.

In all honesty, it was an unnecessary exercise—Gray Lensman is very similar to the book before it
Roger Dane
Recently I have been revisiting some of the classic science fiction that I read as a teenager via audiobook. I remember the Lensman series fondly and so was looking forward to revisiting the worlds of the Tellurians and Boskonians.

I one way it's still the same. Heroic men and gorgeous women. Space wars spread across galaxies. Evil bad guys. The plot rattles along to it's inevitable climax (good triumphs, hero gets girl).

The one thing that really struck me is how badly written this book is. The p
Mary Catelli
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
The continuing tale of Boskone and Kimball Kinnison.

In the opening, he recounts to the Admiral and another high official that he does not know if Boskone was annihilated by their attack. The rest is the somewhat episodic adventures of working out that they did. And fighting onward.

Eichlan speaks for Boskone here -- a harsh, pitiless cold-blood race of Eich being those trying to control the galaxy and rip Civilization's position away. Kinnison poses as both a high society man and as an asteroid p
The Fizza
4 STARS - I'm sure this had happened to everyone, you learn about something new to you and start seeing aspect of it everywhere.

It's like when you watched Monty Python and realize... 'Yes! That song I've heard everywhere was in this movie' or 'That's where SPAM, the term for unwanted in emails, came from' (or maybe that's just me).

If you have experienced something like that, which how can you not have, than you'll understand what I was feeling when I first learned about these Lensmen books, of
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
The continuing lensman saga. It is interesting to watch the introduction of "new" scientific concepts into these books as they were developed. This one adds the concept of the positron which had just been discovered in 1932 a few years before this book was first published. Its kind of funny to see the wildly fantastic science and make-up of space smith put together be sidelined by something even more fantastic such as the positron. Bummer the other closely spaced dimensions and hyper and under s ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-space-opera
One of the best so far
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

Gray Lensman starts in the middle of a battle scene. It is clear who the reader is supposed to cheer for and jeer against, but is also clear that you are supposed to know more about the two sides. I read my last Lensman book about three years ago. Obviously that was too long of a withdrawal. The novel refers to events and characters as if the reader knows their motivations and history, and honestly, little of it was bringing back to mind t
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: space, sf, audio
2.5, rounded down for being somewhat tiresome {though expected for a work from almost 80 years ago}. It reminded me of what would later be The green lantern core with a bit Buck Rogers. It does deal with various questions such as the individual and its relation in society and different societies as a whole. Unfortunately this swashbuckling across the stars had a tendency to be somewhat overly pompous in today's {my} eyes.
PS I have not read the previous books in the series, which may have diminis
Simon Mcleish
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in November 1998.

By the second Kimball Kinnison Lensman book, the fourth in the series overall, the path to the final conflict between the Arisians and the Eddorians is set. Each remaining book now contains the downfall of one or more of the races in the lower echelons of the Eddorian scheme of things, with Smith bursting his imagination to come up with every more spectacular weapons to destroy the planetary headquarters of these races. In Grey Lensman, these
Don (The Book Guy)
Gray Lensman is the 4th in Lensman series written by E. E. "Doc" Smith. This is pure space opera and is not for everyone. This set of novels covers generations as earth moves out into our galaxy and eventually to a neighboring galaxy. There are ancient highly developed beings helping our development and fighting an equally ancient purely evil set of entities. The book is low on science and high on action. The series was written in the 30's and 40's and reflects that time with women for the most ...more
This was my first of the Lensmen series. I've had the first in the series on my multi-paged reading list for ages, but wanted to read this one before the nominations for the Retro Hugo this year.

I like space operas as a group. This one satisfied on some levels. I did begin to like the main characters as the book progressed, but characterization wasn't really the main aim for Smith, I feel. The science was too prevelant for my tastes, but when you're reading print (ereader) you can skim when it g
Grey Lensman is the fourth book of the Lensman series and written by E.E. "Doc" Smith in 1940.

Despite being the fourth book, I started reading with this book. Currently I’ve just started listening this book, but it has an interesting story. There were two ancient species and they have millions of years history.
I’ve great expectations from this book.

Update: 25.05.2015
I’ve finished listening this novel, as I said above I’ve great expectations but the whole story did not satisfy me. It is a nice n
Jul 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading a lot of books from this era recently and I have to say that even for the time it feels markedly old fashioned. The storyline has trouble keeping focus, the characters overwrought and the whole thing was less an exciting space adventure than talky info-dumps and capture-escape padding. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if it wasn't my first foray into the Lensman stories but I don't think so.
Essentially the plot is a police officer doing an undercover investigation into th
Mark Kinney
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
The things you can do when you learn to manipulate inertia... This is probably the grittiest of the Lensman books thus far, with the hero having to go to some dark places to track down Boskone. And as much as I've come to dislike the "he needed killing" thought in characters, at least the Lensmen have the necessary conceits to do it.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love a novel about the future with a positive view of man's destiny
Steve Prentice
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I hate to admit it, but this book was quite enjoyable in a Boy’s Own / Biggles sort of way. I am either getting re-used to Smith’s prose or he actually got better as a novelist.

Although the book, as with its predecessors is jam packed with Flash Gordon type adventure, at least in this book descriptions of space battles didn’t appear on just about every page. There was some plot development too! To be fair, as a series these books have pretty clever plots at more than 1 level, but to me it seeme
Warren Fournier
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The fourth in the Lensman series is one of the more memorable for me. All of the books in this saga are jam-packed with so many things going on that events quickly start to blend into each other after a read. But for some reason, this one has stuck out over the others.

This may be perhaps because the themes are much darker and the action is a little more varied than just the epic spaceship battles peppered with pseudoscientific jargon in earlier entries. Kim Kinn
Kimball Kinnison has defeated Helmuth of Boskone, the pirate leader. However this does not end crime in the galaxy; indeed there is evidence that Helmuth was in contact with the “Second Galaxy” aka “Lundmark’s Nebula”.

Kinnison, on the assumption that all crime is being run by Boskone, decides to go undercover to infiltrate the drug trade, which is not only unaffected by the end of Helmuth but expanding. It turns out he’s right. The drug operation was run separately from the piracy*, and takes ov
Paul Magnussen
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I (and many others) believe the best place to start with Doc Smith’s Lensman series is Galactic Patrol; and as I’ve said why, at length, in my review of that opus, I won’t repeat it here.

Gray Lensman begins where Patrol left off, and never flags, from the start to the finish.

Smith at this point is a massively improved writer from the author of the earlier Skylark series, and much more confident in his characters: Richard Seaton, for instance, never has the moments of self-doubt that trouble Kinn
Roddy Williams
‘Duel to the Death in Outer Space

Somewhere among the galaxies was the stronghold of Boskone – a network of brilliant space-criminals whose hunger for conquest threatened the continued existence of all known civilisation.

But where was this stronghold? Boskonian bases were scattered across the universe – shielded by gigantic thought-screens that defied penetration. The best minds in the Galactic Patrol had tried. And failed. Now it was up to Lensman Kim Kinnison, using his fantastic powers, to inf
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A space opera that should probably have pages made of cheese in order to fully reflect the amount squeezed into it's pages.

If you're ever going to read these, you need to go into it realising it's a an enjoyable space filled romp that will provide no insights at all about either good literature (other than this isn't) or about actual human experiences.

The scale of fighting between the tan, muscular and hirsute Kim Kinnison and the enemy known as Boskone grows in this installment to the point wh
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
So I've said I love the ingenuity of the series, the fact it paved the way for Star Wars, Star Trek, The Green lantern Corps and so much space opera that was to follow, and just the fondness of it blowing my mind as a kid. All that's true but this volume isn't the pride of the fleet.

It reads very much like a James Bond story (impressive enough since this considerably pre-dates Bond) but in this book the dialogue and tech descriptions are probably at their most tortured. I guess no-one expects d
This book continues the saga started with Book #3 (the first two books are prequels written after the fact, don't be fooled) and continues in much the same vein as the first one. Which is good.

But the book itself isn't as good as the first. In this one, our hero, Kim seems to have a handle on everything pretty well in advance. So the surprises are virtually all for the bad guys, as they try to roll out their evil plans to thwart the Gray Lensman and...well, they just fail at every turn.

Now our b
Alex Scrivener
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's the OG space opera. Sample Text:

"Into the plates stared hard-faced young firing officers, keen eyes glued to crossed hair-lines, grimly steady right and left hands spinning controller-rheostats by touch alone, tensely crouched as though by sheer driving force of will they could energize to even higher levels the ravening beams which were weaving beneath and around the Patrol’s super-dreadnought a writhing, flaming pattern of death and destruction."


"He poured a stiff three fingers, down
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 diver
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
borrowed from rob: The continuing lensman saga. It is interesting to watch the introduction of "new" scientific concepts into these books as they were developed. This one adds the concept of the positron which had just been discovered in 1932 a few years before this book was first published. Its kind of funny to see the wildly fantastic science and make-up of space smith put together be sidelined by something even more fantastic such as the positron.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jedi Order vs Kingsman much slower but gets good, This book has got to be one of the original sources for the Jedi council being the police force for the Galaxy, written in 1940 if George Lucas ever read it, I can see the general Idea is all there, I was lost at first then the book got much better at the end, then I reread the beginning again and liked it much better. This is a good read, and if you do let me know if you agree about the Jedi thing.
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Goodreads Librari...: Gray Lensman page number correction 2 131 Jul 09, 2016 11:58AM  

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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)
  • First Lensman (Lensman, #2)
  • Galactic Patrol (Lensman, #3)
  • Second Stage Lensmen (Lensmen, #5)
  • Children of the Lens (Lensman, #6)
  • Masters of the Vortex (Lensman, #7)

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