The Fizza's Reviews > Grey Lensman

Grey Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith
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Mar 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: novels_of_fiction, ya-fiction, speculative-fiction
Read from March 15 to May 08, 2010 , read count: 1

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 which we will speak?!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It all started when I was idly wasting time reading a wiki article regarding the DC comic book Green Lantern.

You see I had recently been turned on to the comic series GL Corps, as this SF adventure book is a modern classic as it's very Edgar Rice Burroughs meets Hill Street Blues IN SPACE.

The more I read the GLC, the more I was interested in what had happened before I started reading (that's how they get ya'). Of course I turned to the leaders on dubious facts, the interwebs, for information. Partial because the whole Green Lantern books seem to be a strange series, even for the company that gave us Flash and Wonder Woman and what I found was seemed to take me through the... uh, lens.

What I found was; the Green Lantern books were actually inspired by this Lensmen series... on top of that the Lensmen books were adapted into a cartoon, which I actually watched as a kid... though the 'toon was only loosely based on the Lensman books.

As I read on it comes to light that not just 1 but 2 SF Conventions, local to me are named after the 2 warning factions in this series of novels:

Arisia
Boskone

While there I had a "wha-?" moment... after all what an amazingly interesting connection, yet none of that is what caused me reading these books.

What actually did get me to read the Lensman was actually 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 might].

The little article in question talked about how the Lensman story arc, sure, like how epic this story is, how amazingly encompassing. Even so, some of the more interesting bits where the little things. Like how E.E. "Doc" Smith never uses computers in the story and you might not even notice it.

It also talks about how, to the new SF audience, these book seem to have become a largely forgotten part of Golden Age SF while simultaneously being the cornerstone in a popular comic book universe. Being the gem that it is, the writer goes on to note, that this is a huge loss to SF fanatics. The writer even goes on to compare Smith's stories to those of van Vogt, Heinlein and Vinge.

This was the right review for me to read, because those authors penned some of my favorite stories.

More impressively, it turned out, the reviewer was not exaggerating.... The story is so epic, so very different then most of the early SF stories I had read. And Kimball Kinnison, our hero for this and the previous books in this series, is one of the most vicious heroes I've ever been witnessed to.

At one point Kim even goes about on an exterminate procedure on an entire race he deems to be to evil to be allowed to survive. To me it seemed a most mind boggling tact for a "hero" to take, but it works here. And it's 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 in this universe striving towards unity and peace (see it's so compelling it even brainwashed me).

Believe me, when I report that after a book or two this will all makes sense to you. You won't believe how accessible these mad SF books are, how easily the story will take you away....

First you must understand that 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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