counter First Lensman (Historical Fiction Books) - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

First Lensman (Historical Fiction Books)

Availability: Ready to download

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 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 dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known.


Compare

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 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 dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known.

30 review for First Lensman (Historical Fiction Books)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 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 large scale SF space opera.*** ***(Note: That sound you hear is Mr. Asimov pffting that statement until his lips bleed). Thus, this series holds a place in SF history similar to the one held by LOTR in the realm of epic fantasy. However, that is where the similarities end and the suckness of E.E. Smith’s clunky, overwrought prose begins. This is a textbook example of a good concept and a compelling plot being torched to cinders by the inability of the writing to convey the story effectively. The prose is schlocky and kept an almost constant wince on my face. Samms thought, flashingly and cogently...for almost three hours, he went into the ramifications of the Galactic Patrol of his imaginings. Finally he wrenched himself back to reality. He jumped up, paced the floor, and spoke.” Put another way...‘Samms thought for a while and then spoke.’ They were amorphous, amoeboid, sexless. Not androgynous or parthenogenetic, but absolutely sexless; with a sexlessness unknown in any Earthly form of life higher than the yeasts. So, in other words...they had no sex. The above are random examples and are by no means indicative of the worst offenses in the book. I just wasn’t brave enough to revisit the most painful examples. Let me give you a quick plot rundown as it is really the only interesting part of the story. PLOT SUMMARY Super powerful good aliens, the Arasians, are in an eon-spanning galactic conflict with super powerful bad (and sexless) aliens, the Eddorians. Both races use surrogate/pawn races (including humans) to do their fighting for them. The bad (sexless) guys promote conflict and destruction while the good (non sexless) guys promote cooperation and brotherhood. There is a lesson/moral in here somewhere I’m sure of it. Anyway, the sexed up good aliens identify certain gifted individuals (starting with the titular character Virgil Samms) that have the ability to spur the formation of a peaceful, galaxy spanning civilization of awesomeness. These heroes, each referred to as a “lens,” are given a powerful device that allows them, among other things, to communicate telepathically across vast distances and read peoples minds. This newly formed “Galactic Patrol” of Lensmen then embark on a series of missions to thwart the plans of the evil, sexless Eddorians with the periodic aid of the Arasians. These missions include breaking up drug smuggling operations, spying on galactic “organized” crime, espionage and political intrigue, and space battles with Eddorian-backed bad guys. It all sounded great. Until, E. E. Smith wrote it down and killed it. By the way, written in the 1950’s, the LensMEN title is literal as “women” are too different “psychologically” to be able to wear the Lens. just thought I’d share that. MY THOUGHTS I really liked the idea of the story. If this ever gets adapted for the big screen, it could be a lot of fun. But this book was an epic struggle to get through and that struggle is entirely centered around the writing, especially the dialogue. Now I like flowery, descriptive, melodramatic prose when it is well done. H.P. Lovecraft is a favorite of mine and he took melodrama to 11. Similarly, modern writers like Dan Simmons and Peter Hamilton amaze me with their ability to create a hyper sense of mood and drama through their prose. When done right it is a real pleasure. HOWEVER, when done poorly, like here, it is among the most painful literary experiences I can think of without drugs. This is bad melodrama...very bad melodrama...horrible cheesy-filled melodrama stuffed in a shit sack. Despite my pain-filled experience, I am giving the book 2 stars in appreciation for all it inspired in the genre that I love. I can see the vestiges of Smith’s legacy in many of the well-written stories that I enjoy. I’m gonna grant a star for that. That’s as far as I can go with this one. I don’t recommend it, I didn’t like it and I am very bummed that I didn’t. 2.0 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    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 to 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 too far, just too many stupidities of too gross a scale for me to be able to buy-in? And am I enjoying myself on other levels--is it just so fun or cool or exciting, or are the characters and story just so damned compelling, that I can't help but have a good time? So, if I'm not offended by the stupidity, and the work in question as a narrative, then I'm happily able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy it. Ok. it's only SF but.. If you're into Vintage SF, read on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    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 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 will ignore the Arisiand helping humans become the driving force in the Galaxy. This is a great book and a worthy continuation of Triplanetary. A great easy reading Space Opera that got a lot of people through the years into sci fi. This review is part of my effort to catch up and write a review for every book I didn't, on first joining GR.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Rodaughan

    Supreme Council Scandal! Minions Fail to Win Simple War! "This bizarre and trifling setback will not hinder our domination of all life in this universe." - The Eddorian Bugle. Re-reading this classic series from my youth. It's been a real trip down memory lane. This is book #2 of 6. This book, like a lot of E.E. 'Doc' Smith stories launches itself out of the blocks with a line like... "Drawing an automatic pistol, he shot the apparently unsuspecting scientist seven times, as fast as he could pul Supreme Council Scandal! Minions Fail to Win Simple War! "This bizarre and trifling setback will not hinder our domination of all life in this universe." - The Eddorian Bugle. Re-reading this classic series from my youth. It's been a real trip down memory lane. This is book #2 of 6. This book, like a lot of E.E. 'Doc' Smith stories launches itself out of the blocks with a line like... "Drawing an automatic pistol, he shot the apparently unsuspecting scientist seven times, as fast as he could pull the trigger; twice through the brain, five items, closely spaced, through the spine." Now, there's an opening worthy of a reader. The story progresses with space pirates, drug runners, body-double spies, corporate/political shenanigans, and interstellar war between massive fleets. Frankly, it's a lot of fun and easy to get immersed in. Strongly Recommended: 5 'The First Lensman Rules OK!' stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    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 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 for his remarkably complex story line was needed. Thus, "Triplanetary" first appeared in 1948, with "First Lensman" eventually showing up in 1950. Originally released as a $3 hardcover edition by the Fantasy Press publishing house, with cover art by famed illustrator A. J. Donnell, the book has since gone through multiple paperback incarnations; I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on the 1982 Berkley reprint, with a beautiful cover illustration by David B. Maddingly. Essentially comprising Part 2 of a 500-page backstory to the main events of Books 3 – 6, "First Lensman" is a tad less thrilling than the first installment had been, although readers who are expecting still more in the way of bizarre aliens and epic space battles will surely not be disappointed. The book is a bit drier than the first, focusing more on undercover police work, politics and criminal activities, but it also introduces us to the concept of the Lens itself, and shows just how the Galactic Patrol came to be...both of which will figure prominently in the later books. Unlike in Book 1, the multibillion-year struggle between the kindly and philosophical Arisians and the monstrously power-hungry Edorrians is barely touched on here. Many of the characters from the earlier installment do make a welcome return, though, and so we see again Virgil Samms, the Nick Fury-like head of the Triplanetary Patrol, now dreaming big dreams of making his force galactic in scope. Given a tip by Dr. Nels Bergenholm, one of the ace scientists who works in Samms' organization, and who is in fact a human "possessed" by an Arisian mentality, Virgil makes the trip to the distant world of Arisia, a planet that heretofore had been impossible to approach. And once there, Virgil makes contact with one of the beings of the superrace--a being who refers to itself only as "Mentor"--and is the first to be given a Lens: "a lenticular something" in a platinum-iridium bracelet; "a sort of pseudo-life...in physical circuit with the living entity--the ego, let us say--with whom it is in exact resonance...." Specifically created for its wearer, the Lens gives that person the ability to communicate telepathically with any living creature...and it is inferred that it also harbors other powers, as well. Thus, Samms becomes the titular first Lensman, and he is instructed to send others to the Arisians to see if they might also be Lens worthy. During the course of the book, Samms seeks out other potential Lens wearers in various worlds throughout the galaxy, with the full knowledge that any future member of his proposed Galactic Patrol really must be so equipped...especially inasmuch as the Lens cannot be counterfeited, and is thus a surefire means of both identification and of excluding potential undercover foes. But meanwhile, as the galaxywide search for possible Lens candidates continues, Samms & Co. prosecute their intentions of bringing to justice the interstellar drug traffic, in particular the makers, distributors and retailers of the drug called thionite, which is so very addictive in nature that it makes 20th century crack cocaine seem like a Flintstones Vitamin in comparison. Another problem facing Samms and his patrol: the widespread corruption in the North American government, as personified by one Senator Morgan, who had been fleetingly introduced in Book 1. And finally, there is the persistent menace of interstellar piracy to be dealt with. To further their goals in these three arenas, Samms himself goes undercover to Trenco, the insanely harsh world where the broadleaf used to make thionite is harvested; Conway Costigan, one of our heroes from Book 1, goes undercover as a uranium miner on the planet Erinda, from where uranium freighters are being used to transport the processed thionite; Roderick Kinnison--who had also been briefly introduced to us in Book 1, and whose extended family figures so prominently in all six books--decides to run for North American president, on the Cosmocrats ticket, to take on the corrupt Nationalist party; his son Jack Kinnison, along with master electronicist Mason Northrop, also goes undercover and come up against two very dangerous women; and 23-year-old Virgilia "Jill" Samms, Virgil's daughter, goes undercover as well, as she seduces Morgan's personal secretary, Herkimer Herkimer III. Into these multiple and converging story lines Smith gives the reader any number of truly memorable scenes. Thus, the spectacle of Samms' visit to the incredibly noisy world of Rigel III, the frozen wastes of Pluto, and the bizarre world of Palain, as he endeavors to find suitable Lens recruits. The scene at the Ambassadors Ball, at which Samms is almost assassinated, followed by an all-out nuclear bombardment of Samms' base of operations, The Hill, in the Bitterroot Mountains of east Idaho. The scene in which the undercover Samms is forced to take a dose of thionite, with devastating results. The scene in which Jill is made to undergo some particularly nasty torture at the hands of that Herkimer, etc., fella. The entire sequence in which we get to follow the trail of the smuggled thionite back on Earth, a la some kind of galactic "French Connection." The political campaign waged by Kinnison the elder, and the wonderfully written speeches that he gives, followed by the equally well-written BS speeches orated by Morgan. And last but certainly not least, no fewer than three battles in the depths of space: the first following that attack on The Hill; the second between the Patrol and a pirate vessel (Dronvire the Rigelian is particularly impressive during the null-gravity boarding section here); and the third between the Patrol and a huge force of pirates and Morgan's adherents, each side surprising the other with tremendous fleets from their secret base worlds (Petrine in the case of the bad guys; Bennett for Samms & Co.). It is all thrilling spectacle, for the most part, if slightly less juicy than in Book 1. I did, however, have a number of minor problems with this second Lensman installment. The science of astronomical measurement has come a long way since Smith wrote "First Lensman" almost 70 years ago, and so I suppose he can be forgiven the following two gaffes: Aldebaran, as we now know, is 65 light-years from Earth, not the stated 57, and Rigel is 863 light-years distant, not the stated 440. That third battle just alluded to is a bit hard to visualize, what with one side being in a cone shape and the other being in a cylindrical one to engulf "pipe-wise, the entire apex of the enemy's war-cone...." The mining disaster on Erinda, likewise, was very difficult for this reader to picture. And, oh...as a longtime Big Apple dweller, I was not crazy about hearing that the residents of NYC, of all places, were apparently so naïve and gullible as to go for the Nationalists in that general election. And while I'm carping, in that scene in which Kinnison, Jr. and Northrop rescue Jill from her torture, just how are they arrowing downward through the air and diving headlong from high windows? Jetpacks, I presume? Some mention by the author might have been nice. And, oh, yes...during that assassination attempt, when Rod Kinnison Lenses to his fellow agents "...In emergencies, it is of course permissible to kill a few dozen innocent bystanders"...well, as a potential "innocent bystander" myself, I really must cry foul here! Finally, at the book's tail end, we learn that a full five years have elapsed since the beginning of the story, when Samms first acquired his Lens on Arisia. The only thing is, for the reader, it feels more like perhaps half a year, at most! Still, quibbles aside, there is an awful lot to love in Smith's second installment here. Interestingly, the ships in this offering are not just globular, as in the first, but also torpedo-shaped and teardrop-shaped, as well. The author places pleasing little tidbits into his story as grace notes (such as the hyperaggressive advertising to be encountered when driving on NYC's highways, and those strange little fontema creatures that Samms studies on A-Zabriskae Two), and is not afraid to make up his own words to suit the occasion (such as "figmental," and "duodecaplylatomate," that latter being some type of weapon or explosive; don't ask me more). And whereas Book 1 had given us ships' defensive force screens and tractor beams as possible "Star Trek" inspirations, in Book 2, we see Kinnison, Jr. giving one of those lethal ladies something very reminiscent of the Vulcan neck pinch! And I just love the notion of a U.S. president being compelled to wear a Lens, so as to preclude any ability to lie to the public: "...a Lensman president could not lie to you except by word of mouth or in writing. You could demand from him at any time a Lensed statement upon any subject. Upon some matters of state he could and should refuse to answer; but not upon any question involving moral turpitude. If he answered, you would know the truth. If he refused to answer, you would know why and could initiate impeachment proceedings then and there...." Oh, how this reader wishes that our current president, Donald Trump, could be forced to wear a Lens and so telepathically communicate his true nature to the American people and the world! A very pleasant fantasy, that! One of the hallmarks of these Lensman books, I have heard, is that each successive volume enlarges on what has come before, opening in scope more and more. Seemingly minor characters mentioned offhand in Book 1 have become rather major players in Book 2. And so, I eagerly await the further developments of Book 3, now that our Lensmen have been formed, the Galactic Patrol has become a reality, and Roderick Kinnison has become president. What can possibly happen next? I guess that I will just have to proceed on to Book 3 now, "Galactic Patrol," to find out. After 500 pages of backstory, the main events, one senses, are about to commence.... (By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/ ... a most ideal destination for all fans of E. E. "Doc" Smith....)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    "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 de "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 dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known." By far the best of the Lensman series that I have read so far--the most intricate plot and the most characters, though they are still pretty stereotyped. One has to consider that this was published in 1940, when military men were heroes and equated with all that was good, against the forces of evil--pretty much the planet of Arisia vs. Eddore. Once again, I am struck by the forward looking role of women in this novel. When selecting people to go to Arisia to become Lensmen, the men unanimously choose their coworker, Jill, who accompanies them on the voyage. She doesn't end up with a Lens, as it appears that the Arisians are less accepting than human men. She comes back, reporting, "Women's minds and Lenses don't fit...Lenses are as masculine as whiskers...There is going to be a woman Lensman some day--just one--but not for years and years." But Jill goes on to play a pivotal role in the plot and in the end, hooks up with one of the official Lensmen, Mason Northrup. I guess Smith let the aliens be the chauvinistic ones! I also enjoyed how politicians and elections get thoroughly run down as corrupt and unfair--much the same way that many people feel today. In that regard, the book has a very modern sensibility, although I'm sure we would be suspicious of a military body of any kind over seeing an election to maintain its integrity. Its fascinating to see the beginnings of the science fiction genre and too see where some of the enduring stereotypes come from--I wouldn't recommend the Lensman series to just anyone, but it you are interested in the history of the sci-fi genre, this series is required reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    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 init 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 initial developments in the Arisian's plans to ultimately destroy the Eddorians. That book was almost a collection of short stories, leaping through history and touching on various stories of two specific genealogical lines. In the latter part of that book Smith introduces the reader to Virgil Samms, who is the central character in this novel. Samms, who becomes the First Lensman, is the driving force behind the development of first the Interstellar Police, which he eventually sees as inadequate for the job needing to be done. When the Arisians bestow the Lens upon him and pledge to provide more for all who are worthy, Samms finally has the incorruptible sign of authority needed and so moves on to establish the Galactic Patrol and the Galactic Council to oversee interstellar matters. This book is quite a ride. Smith weaves quite a fantastic story, and he has a rather unrelenting pace. Though it was written in the '50s most of his technology is vague enough to mature adequately with age. Every now and then the way he perceives future technology (specifically that of computers) is definitely rooted in his understanding of computers at that time, and that causes the reader to hesitate a little - but then the story distracts you again and you realize you could care less about the tech because the story is so engaging. Though most fans of this series will say - correctly - that it really takes off with Galactic Patrol, the next book in the series, this is no second-rate book. In fact, I recommend reading through the entire series chronologically. The books get better and better, in my mind, at least, as you go through the books in their chronological order in the Lensman universe (not chronological order of publication). Overall I greatly enjoyed this book and would easily recommend it to anyone. Since it was written so long ago it is actually very clean as far as language and sexual material is concerned. I would just very strongly encourage anyone reading this book to get their hands on the other books in the series as well - they are classics in every sense of the word. Worldview: secular Recommended age: It is a very "clean" book in regards to language and sexual situations. There is a little violence, but even that is described "modestly", though the violence may not be so mild. Thusly, as soon as a child can understand the concepts within the book, they should be okay reading it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    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 r 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 rings true. The salient plot point that rang true was the political drama that encompassed the second half of the book. After the first lens is granted, and the galactic patrol is strengthened by an elite cadre of lens carrying super heroes of all races within the galaxy, the book hyper focuses on the political aspect of kick starting "civilization", here after used to refer to the "Good Guys", where as "Bosconians" is used to refer to the pirate (or is it, duh duh dummmmmm) forces that oppose all that is right and good in the galaxy. Very light reading, quick, and most enjoyable to read / hear the expressions of 1940's America used by ancient alien races, like 'Oh boy gal, ain't we got fun!", or "keep that up bub, and I'll hang one right on your chin so hard they wont see you till next Tuesday". Lovely. If I were honest, and this was a "modern" writer, I'd have to rate this much lower, but the prestige of being the first, the trail blazer if you will, and laying out the scaffolding of what would become my favorite area to read and relax within, caused it to end up being rated higher.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    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. 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    prcardi

    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 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 plotholes and providing a hard science fiction groundwork for his spacefaring. There were also some indications that Smith wanted this to stand as something more than a mindless adventure book, and he had some elementary musings on the slide from democracy to despotism. In all of these "positive" areas, however, Smith was rather amateurish. The plothole-plugging took the form of extended dialogues and were oftentimes hard to follow as Smith was the only one who knew what counterarguments were being prepared for. The hard science fiction is pretty hokey by scientific standards of today, and the bigger issues and musings read like someone considering the topics for the first time. "B-" for effort and "F" for execution. If I had to find something good to say about the book, I'd say that it did a fair job of projecting the police precinct into an international and galaxy-wide scale. I usually try to read series books in the order they were written. That was particular difficult to do here. The first Lensman writings appear to have been published in serials in 1938 and later turned into the 3rd Lensman book. The first Lensman book, Triplanetary, is one of the oldest Smith writings but was re-written as a Lensman story only after the entire series had been issued through magazines. This, First Lensman, is the only one that wasn't a fix-up, was the second one to be published as a novel, but was the last of the six stories to actually have been written. Confusing huh? Anyway, the internal chronology would have you reading Triplanetary first. I haven't read it yet, so it is possible that I would have gotten more out of it had I read them in their internally chronological order.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Slack

    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), 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), though Smith's characters are very cardboard. Very interesting that the good guys use a drug crisis to usurp control from local governments and create a "galaxy-wide" police force (the Galactic Patrol) with all but unlimited powers. For the greater good and safety of course. It's an idea that doesn't seem to go out of style: faced with an evil of sufficient magnitude, we are to surrender our freedoms to a moral elite so that civilization can be protected. I hear a movie version is in the works with Ron Howard. If anything, the space battles which take up much of the narrative will be epic. If you don't take it too seriously, it's a nice bit of fluff for science fiction fans.

  12. 4 out of 5

    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 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

  13. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    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 Lensma 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 Lensman. This novel has strange aliens, weird alien artifacts, strange social customs, political intrigue, crime, piracy, romantic tension, a technological arms race, an unexpected torture scene, and some space battles that read differently from any I’ve yet encountered. I wasn’t wild about the pacing of Triplanetary, but there is no latency in the tension, build-up, and pay-off in First Lensman. Virgil Samms becomes the First Lensman when he is offered an alien artifact that expands his consciousness without need of stimulants or hallucinogens. Indeed, Samms becomes the First Lensman in order to establish and provide security for the Galactic Patrol he is forming (for freedom-loving races everywhere). Naturally, there has to be a villain. Where the villains in Triplanetary seemed rather amorphous, the villains in First Lensman have a familiar pattern with cosmic extrapolation. Monopolistic practices, dishonest politics, bribery, theft, abduction, and overt treason are just some of the vices to which one could ascribe the villains (not named here lest they be spoilers). Yet, when the villains are extra ruthless and nasty, that means that the “good guys” can be phenomenally heroic. The main characters in First Lensman are just that. Somehow you sense, even if you didn’t know the third book was named Galactic Patrol, that they are going to overcome enough obstacles to succeed. One never gets a sense of John Carter’s “I still live” desperation as found in the Edgar Rice Burroughs series, but you rarely get the feeling that things are under control. There is always a new revelation to be uncovered and a new contingency for which the protagonists have to plan. And that’s where things came alive for me. Now, I know how this series inspired the early computer game, Spacewar!, and how it inspired a full television series of Lensman anime in Japan. Now, this cosmic battle has really come home. There are dangers and surprises in First Lensman, but its characters are not only heroic, but they may be the best managers for risk I can ever remember encountering in fiction. I think I would recommend that new readers skip Triplanetary and jump straight to First Lensman. They can always go back and treat Triplanetary as a prequel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    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 t 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 the Lensmen - seeking to destroy them at every turn while the new Lensmen investigate a huge conspiracy ring of piracy, drugs, and politics that spans the globe and threatens to tear apart the fledgling Galactic Patrol. But noone but the Lensmen know, however, that Time and Space do not separate Lensmen, and their ability to psychically communicate could make all the difference.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Ford

    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 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 - a seemingly magical device that can read minds. What would one do with such a device? This book does get a little thick with politics but with modern day hindsight, it becomes a very enjoyable read. And I don't know enough about the super races (Arisa and Erridore) to comment. oh and last but not least, let's not forget all out space battle :)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    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 sma 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 smart and tall, as well as beautiful, and just as willing to go on adventures as any man. I got the feeling E.E. Smith had actually met and talked to a few women, not common for SF writers of this time. I doubt I could have read this book in hard copy; I barely made it to the end by listening! My reward is first-hand knowledge of the book, a rich mine indeed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rex Libris

    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 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Warren Dunham

    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. 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    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. 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    JM

    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, Len 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, Lensmen aren't unisex. No girls allowed! Because of space cooties, I gather. One thing that stuck me was that a lot of the book centers on the political strategizing and manouvering of the Cosmocrats in favor of the Galactic Patrol and creating a better society that spans civilizations and species throughout the stars, and the Nationalists who use populism and lies to elicit support from the population through fear-mongering and accuse the Galactic Patrol of being tyrants and of basically everything they themselves want to do, which is co-opt the government to benefit from having power in their own hands and proceed to abuse the fuck out of it. There's a very telling passage when two high-ranking members of this faction discuss how to win the upcoming election and they say that using dead men, ringers, repeaters, ballot-box stuffing, and so on, is valid because "everything goes, this time. It'll be one of the biggest landslides in North American history." It's chilling to see this book show us how Nationalists are frauds and on the wrong side of history. Especially since this was published in 1950 and here we are almost a century later dealing with the same bullshit because modern conservatives are for the most part assholes who don't care about anything that doesn't directly benefit them or at least hurts someone they don't like. If they have to lie, cheat, project, deny, or ignore anything to get their way, they're willing to do it. Just look at American news for the last two years. Disgusting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Carrabis

    These past few months I needed some more fun reads from childhood. Smith's First Lensman did that, and also showed me how much my memory's failed (for example, I keep wanting to call it "First STAGE Lensman"). I'd forgotten much of the book (thankfully), and it still provided an education regarding the time and place in which it was written. Reading it now and with an increased sense of history, I wonder if Smith was writing about the corruption pervading different governments, the lack of law&or These past few months I needed some more fun reads from childhood. Smith's First Lensman did that, and also showed me how much my memory's failed (for example, I keep wanting to call it "First STAGE Lensman"). I'd forgotten much of the book (thankfully), and it still provided an education regarding the time and place in which it was written. Reading it now and with an increased sense of history, I wonder if Smith was writing about the corruption pervading different governments, the lack of law&order, and wanting something that would be incorruptible. Some writing lessons in here. Also lots of "bigger, faster, better" concepts of technology. The arms race played out in space opera, me thinks.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Warren Fournier

    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 S 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 Sherman Hoar, Murray Leinster, Aldous Huxley, Hugo Gernsback, Francis Phillip Nowlan, Andre Norton, and many others is garbage? The reason I bring up these other great names in science fiction in this review is to point out that many influential writers have at some or all points in their careers had similar writing styles, so I want to give the curious and prospective fans some clarification about the ranking of books in genre. Before a reviewer dives into a critique of these kinds of works, they must understand several things: 1) who was the intended audience 2) the context of the times in which it was written and 3) what legacy or experience does the work leave a modern audience. Science fiction is often chosen as a genre for communication by authors who have a certain kind of personality and mode of thinking. Some may even have some degree of technical or scientific background, with writing being only a supplemental source of income as they work as engineers or in other practical professions (like Doc Smith himself, who specialized in doughnut engineering). They are not poets, psychologists, philosophers, or literary artists, but they do know how to create a quality product. Therefore, a reviewer should not approach every work expecting Dostoevsky. That would be like a music reviewer expecting Tchaikovsky out of a Ministry album. But a critic who appreciates Tchaikovsky can certainly perform a competent, fair, and compelling review of Ministry if they approach the work from both an experiential and technical perspective. Neither the critic who thinks everything that is not classical music is not music at all, nor the critic who thinks music has to have a hard metal edge to be relevant, has any business giving formal evaluations of music as a whole. Similarly, a work with CONTENT considered by conventional and functional standards as garbage, such as sadistic or pornographic subjects, can be elevated by the TECHNICAL mastery of the execution, as seen in such as examples as the film "Salo" and the writing of Edward Lee. As an example, when I wrote my review of Hamilton's "Cities in the Air," arguably a prime example of old-fashioned, kid-friendly, low-brow, exclamation-mark-filled, sensationalist and pedestrian writing, I approached it from the kind of experience a reader could expect from the novel. I hoped the takeaway for a person wondering if the book was worth their time would be that if they chose to read it, they would be wanting to immerse themselves in a true pulp fiction experience, one shared by their ancestors where young and old alike with fresh memories of the Great War were dazzled away from their Depression-era lives with exciting action, swift aircraft, and entire cities converted to floating battleships in a distinctly 1920s precursor of Star Wars' Rebel Alliance vs. Imperial tai fighters. I did prepare the reader for some melodrama in the rather juvenile writing, but it all went with the authentic EXPERIENCE. And so it is with "First Lensman." Here, the saga of the evolution of the Lensman begins in earnest with the adventures of the first human, Virgil Samms, to receive the mystical Lens and discover its preliminary powers. The novel is broken into three essential parts, consisting of battles between square-jawed heroes and drug-trafficking pirates, Samms traveling the galaxy in search of a few good aliens that he can recruit as Lensmen, and finally being a battle on the political stage as our heroes try to "drain the swamp," so to speak. There's a lot going on in this novel, and it was designed to give established fans some further background on what is a Lensman and on the importance of the Kinnison lineage, as well as to entice newbies to read the other entries in the series. This is the second book in the Lensman series but the last written by "Doc" Smith as a kind of prequel to the events in "Galactic Patrol." Even though "The Rock" Kinnison is a major character in "First Lensman," it is not until the next book that we are introduced to his ancestor, Kimball, where the tale of the Kinnison family truly begins. Also, this book sets up the formation of the Galactic Patrol. Written almost 20 years after the first book, "Triplanetary," the Doc had improved his writing so that there was better narrative structure and complexity of action. But the Doc was not a master poet and never wanted to be. He did not set out to make the Great American Novel. He wanted to make a little cash, and thus wanted to entertain. And in my humble opinion, he accomplished his goal very well. If you want good escapist entertainment full of bizarre alien races, spaceship battles, and classic superheroes, you've come to the right place. So my four star rating reflects the entertainment value of this work. For me, this feels like a comfort food, and if I were vacationing on an island with no electricity and only this to read, I'd be content.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    Overall, I think I enjoyed this book more than the first book. It is about the early beginnings of the Galactic Patrol, how Virgil Samms “gets his Lens” and then forms the Patrol. He quickly expands the Patrol so that it includes members of other races, and he also puts measures into place so that it quickly separates itself from the influence of Planetary Governments. Because of this, it has a lot of “politics” in it, but most of the “politics” that take place take place in the US of A (which a Overall, I think I enjoyed this book more than the first book. It is about the early beginnings of the Galactic Patrol, how Virgil Samms “gets his Lens” and then forms the Patrol. He quickly expands the Patrol so that it includes members of other races, and he also puts measures into place so that it quickly separates itself from the influence of Planetary Governments. Because of this, it has a lot of “politics” in it, but most of the “politics” that take place take place in the US of A (which apparently now includes Canada). It also is a bit of a mystery, as various members of the Patrol are trying to find out the source of some new “super drug” that is replacing heroin, morphine, and some other drugs as the drug of choice to use by addicts. While it is the sixth published book in the series, it is the second novel of the series, so it could be interesting to see what discrepancies have occurred between the books that take place “later” but were written prior to this one (if I remembered them, of course. A lot happens in this book, so much of it is still a bit of a blur). It was funny how its “tone” changed over the course of the book. (view spoiler)[For example, on page 165ish, we have this quote from Roderick Kinnison: ”In emergencies, it is of course permissible to kill a few dozen innocent bystanders.” When I read, this, I was a mix of “what the HECK is that kind of mindset?!? And these are the ”good guys”?” and “well, that is in line with the prior novel, I guess.” But then the logic of the book takes a spurious turn. On page 185ish, there is a discussion to kill two female agents/assassins who had orders to kill two of the young male heroes of this book (184) (Jack Kinnison, son of Roderick, and Jack’s best friend Northrop Mase). Before making a decision, they check with Conway Costigan (of the first book) who apparently has toned down his blood-thirst from the first book; he tells them they should not kill the two women in cold blood but let them go. It was a pretty surreal moment, as it really made zero sense for there to be such qualms about killing these two assassins (who, as it turned out, were KNOWN assassins to some of the other Galactic Patrol members). Perhaps their each acquiring a Lens toned down their relative blood-thirsty natures and made them “better” or “more civilized”? I know it is claimed the Lenses do not change a person’s behavior, but I am kinda doubting that, or the author forgot how these characters were introduced in the prior novel? Also, on page 228ish, Virgil Samms, the First Lensman, says: ”Beyond a certain point military action becomes indefensible butchery, of which our Galactic Patrol will never be guilty.” I guess the butchery that occurred beforehand was okay? The number of murders Samms himself ordered do not count? It seems to me the Galactic Patrol could be seen as starting on shaky foundations, regardless of what the author claims. Maybe not; maybe Samms really was trying to shake off his past, his prior decisions, and start things off “right”, with a good, solid foundation, for the Galactic Patrol. It still struck me as hilarious to read this after the events of the prior book, Triplanetary. (hide spoiler)] There were some other ‘odd’ (funny) moments in the book. (view spoiler)[It seemed like the author as setting up a “hate-love” relationship between Virgil Samms daughter, Jill Samms, and Roderick Kinnison’s son, Jack, that would blossom into a marriage in the second chapter. Shocker! It never happened. I will not deny it; I expected it to happen, that they would “realize their true, hidden feelings for each other” at some point in the novel and fall into each other’s arms while falling into a bed, somewhere, but it never happened. I was surprised at this turn of events, but it was a pleasant surprise. I thought this statement was pretty hilarious, especially considering how it ends: ”it was a known and recognized fact that the men of the Patrol were men.” It felt like a “we are men, listen to us ROAR!” statement or something. Like, what? The men who pilot other space-going vessels are not “real MEN” or something?!? I know it is to somehow set apart the men of the Patrol from everybody else, that these are the kind of MEN all other men could hope to aspire to but may fail to reach that “Gold Standard” and that all women hope to be lucky enough to have. It made me laugh when I read it. It was made in reference to an initial battle between the Black Fleet and the first Space Patrol fleet, between the men who commanded and crewed the Black Fleet versus the Galactic Patrol fleet. During some of the election gatherings towards the end of the book, it was said that ambulances dashed about amongst the crowds because “some women had fainted, no doubt, ran the report. They always did” (216ish). What did that mean?!? Is the author stereotyping women as always fainting at (during) moments of intense emotions while in crowds? Or, is he saying that the “official reports” always say that ambulances were needed because of women fainting while being used as decoys for what was actually going on? (And that it was easy for the general public to believe that the ambulances were needed because of women not being able to handle the “excitement” and fainting as a result?) It was such an odd statement (and felt like a dig at women) that it made me wonder if there was “more going on” than I realized when I first read the remark. The author has a “strange, Heinlein” moment where he references Rod “smacking” his wife “where it would do the most good” before “kissing her thoroughly” (209-210ish). Afterwards, he left for his next mission (running for President, which I also took to be a play on the title, as he would be the First Lensman President if he were to win). I call it a “Heinlein moment” as Heinlein referenced either “spanking spouses” or “smacking spouses” in his later books, and that is what the comment reminded me of. In any case, I assume it was meant as “playful roughhousing” between the two? Clearly, she was not hurt by it, so it seems like it was more romantic and playful in nature. In any case, the two parted on happy terms. I suppose it makes some kind of sense that the Lenses could only be worn by men as they seemed to be “made” for a particular kind of thinking or mindset, but it still seemed somehow wrong that Jill Samms was not able to wear a Lens or any other female member of the Galactic Patrol (I assume there are female members who are more than secretaries?!? Now that I think about it, I don’t recall reading about any female agents/officers/crewmembers; just all men). Granted, as it turns out, she really did not need one, because of her other skill sets (some of which reminded me of aspects of Frank Herbert’s Dune series, to be honest, especially the ability to read muscles and physical reactions). I liked how Virgil Samms handled the Black Fleet after he (well, the Galactic Patrol) had destroyed a good chunk of it in battle at the end. He speaks to the remaining commanding officers and offers them hope and peace and respect and honor, which brings them and their planet into the “Greater Civilization” (and subsequent Galactic Patrol) being created. It was definitely one of the better moments in the book. I liked the introduction of various alien races in this book as well as the description(s) of how humans interacted with known alien races. The moments ranged from interesting to fun to funny to interesting and back again. I thought those were some of the “strongest moments” in the book, the describing of other alien races and how humans handled interacting with them. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[The ending of the book was fun, as the entire book apparently covers a period of five years. In the beginning, when Virgil Samms meets “Mentor” of Arisia and receives the first Lens given to a human, Mentor makes a very specific prophecy about something that will occur in five years. The book ends with the fulfilment of this prophecy, which makes it fun and funny, in my opinion. It made me laugh. I had actually forgotten about the prophecy until Kinnison tells Samms that they both need a haircut. So, yeah, it was funny to see the prophecy play out as predicted and how Virgil Samms reacted to it. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[On a completely different note, I now understand the references to “Mentor” better in the newly released Heinlein book Pursuit of the Pankera and how his/her shape changed a few times when Hilda visited with him/her/it. Each of the men (and Jill) who visited Arisia had a different experience; Jill was the only one who visited who saw a woman whereas the men all saw masculine figures. Hilda apparently saw both (Santa Claus then a female figure, or the other way around, before she told Mentor to “knock it off!” and Mentor strangely complied), but Heinlein has her be a completely and utterly disrespectful, unpleasant person with and to this alien being. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[It was funny to me how the author was a bit disparaging about Christianity at the start of Triplanetary yet has some "positive" references to "God" throughout this book. There are also some profanities, but not a lot. Then, we have "Mentor" who one cannot help but wonder if this being is some sort of "god" or supernatural being because of his/her/its abilities. It was just a bit "odd" to have somewhat-respectful comments made referencing "God" or "God's grace" in the story after nothing of the sort in the first story. Also, the epilogue is really “weird” as well as “funny.” It starts out with discussing the murder of Senator Morgan before segueing into discussing Rod Kinnison and Virgil Samms. I was totally expecting the author to go on about the “good” Senator’s murder and who was behind it (I can only assume it is the “blue being” that has popped up a couple of times in this book to give orders to Senator Morgan), but he instead heads in a completely different tact and discusses the fulfilment of Mentor’s prophecy “five years ago.” So that was a bit of an unexpected double-twist for me, which I appreciated (but I would still like to know if my suspicions are correct about who killed the Senator. Hopefully that is revealed in the next book). (hide spoiler)] Overall, I think I enjoyed this book more than the first one. I don’t know that it has “more” action in it than Triplanetary, as it is more about the nuts-and-bolts of trying to build up a Galactic peacekeeping, law-enforcing organization from scratch while trying to uncover the nefarious organization that has been working against them from the start. It introduces newly discovered races and planets, it has some good moments in it, some epic battles, and it was fun to read, overall. I am glad that I read it; I would probably rate it 2.7 – 2.9 stars, rounded up to 3 stars. Hopefully the next book is as good as, if not better, than this one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James Hogan

    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 t 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 this one, just saying. But I heartily enjoyed it for what it was - pulpy sci-fi fun with lots of intriguing world-building and solid characters. It's enjoyable to read the author's idea of a moderately near-future Earth...after first contact has already been made, so there are multiple alien races, all of whom are very alien indeed. The idea of the most advanced alien (the Arisians, who play very little direct role in this book) bestowing the super-advanced "lens" on only the most worthy of the human and aliens, in order to provide a peace-keeping force for the Galaxy, a force of strength and vigor and purest integrity...is fascinating and really I know of no other book similar. It is also very interesting how one of the main powers of the Lens is simply to enable true and pure communication between individuals, no matter the actual language they speak. Of course, this communication can be shaky when there are very few common concepts shared by the individuals, such as when Virgil Samms (one of the protagonists of this book!) attempts to contact the hyper-dimensional beings on the planet Pluto (although of course they aren't actually from Pluto per se...but that is their first meeting point). Anyways, I enjoyed the fact that the Lens aren't important because they provide superior firepower or extra armor or anything...no, they help facilitate communication. Fantastic. There are various little adventures in this book taken by the different characters as they attempt to unearth a conspiracy to take over the Earth (and the galaxy!) and of course this conspiracy is controlled by that most dastardly of individuals...a US Senator!! In concert with big corporate powers, this Senator Morgan attempts to destroy the influence of the Galactic Patrol...and is he successful? Well, read and find out. I also found it darkly humorous that the climactic moment of this book is an American (or North American, apparently Canada has been absorbed into the US at this point in the future? And maybe Mexico too? That part was fuzzy) presidential election. An election for the future of all galactic-kind!! And how was the victory made sure? By armies of hard-working men and women assuring the honesty and integrity of the election at the polling places. Awesome. And I've missed out describing so many other fun moments of this book...one of my favourites is when a character has to go undercover at this uranium mining corporation...starting from the bottom in an uranium mine. Reading about his efforts during a mining accident...? Super thrilling and heart-pounding! Disclaimer...this book isn't really that well written - the prose is awkward at times and the dialogue is old fashioned in the extreme. The characters don't really develop, they are full-formed and they just exist as the heroes (or villains!!) that they are. The plot is sometimes confusing and the action scenes aren't always easy to follow. But you know what? That's ok. I enjoyed this book that presented aliens as potential friends and allies, no matter how weird and different they are. I enjoyed this book that showed how humans have the potential for great evil and that that evil must be fought against. I enjoyed this book that extolled the virtues of strength and honesty and integrity and that hearty fighting spirit that must be maintained in order to stave back the forces of evil. I enjoyed this book that wore its heart on its sleeve, unabashedly. I enjoyed this book for what it was - good old fashioned science fiction adventurous fun!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    NeilWill

    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 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 of space (Operation Zabriska). Samms is able to solve one of the problems with the help of the mysterious Arisians (not mysterious if you’ve read Triplanetary or the introduction to this book). Going there he receives a Lens, which acts as a telepathic communicator, an unforgeable identification, and a guarantee of integrity, becoming First Lensman. This has something of an ensemble cast, some coming back from Triplanetary, others being new characters, mostly from the younger generation. Most of them become lensmen; one major exception being the only major female character Jill* Samms, Virgil Samms' daughter. Women, it seems, can’t become lensmen although the Arisian mentor is very nice about it, telling her she doesn’t need a lens to do what she does. Turns out he’s right though that doesn’t stop her being kidnapped by Herkimer Herkimer III, the sadistic secretary of corrupt Senator Morgan, and having to be rescued. The novel has, of course, big space battles (a sine qua non of the series), a variety of strange aliens that Samms meets while trying to expand the Solarian Patrol into the Galactic Patrol, and a bit of intrigue. I’m finding the most interesting parts are when the lensmen go undercover; Samms pretending to be his own cousin and Conway Costigan as a disgraced engineer who starts at the bottom of the uranium mines. When there’s a disaster down in the bottom level there’s quite a tense sequence where they dig themselves out using weirdo sounding machines that nevertheless depend on Costigan’s brute strength. Reading through I’m almost thinking I’d prefer a ground level series, in which the whole Civilisation vs Boskonia plot is in the background and we have a 1940s future of manly men solving industrial problems while all the secretaries admire them. Read This: More over the top space opera, taking on real problems with slightly dubious solutions, though the climax being the newly formed Patrol enforcing a 99.999% fair election was pretty good. Don’t Read This: If you want something other than old fashioned, somewhat ludicrous science fiction. * “Virgillia”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    It’s easy to see why this series became so influential. It’s space opera in the old-school sense: a galaxy-wide scope, strangeness as a matter of course, and a breezy narrative style. It’s also weirdly relevant to right now, as I read it. While the first part of the book is about the formation of the vaguely Green Lanternish “Galactic Patrol”, the second part is about a presidential election between a rough-speaking political outsider—I get the sense that he’s even a New Yorker—and a long-time es It’s easy to see why this series became so influential. It’s space opera in the old-school sense: a galaxy-wide scope, strangeness as a matter of course, and a breezy narrative style. It’s also weirdly relevant to right now, as I read it. While the first part of the book is about the formation of the vaguely Green Lanternish “Galactic Patrol”, the second part is about a presidential election between a rough-speaking political outsider—I get the sense that he’s even a New Yorker—and a long-time establishment insider, very corrupt and on the take from every side that will pay him his cut. Today we talk about draining the swamp; Rod Kinnison talks about clearing the “reeking muck” that the corrupt Senator Morgan has made of national politics. For Roderick Kinnson’s campaign, which had started out rough and not too clean, became rougher and rougher and no cleaner, as it went along. Morgan and his crew were swing from the heels, with everything and anything they could dig up or invent, however little of truth or even of plausibility it might contain, and Rod the Rock had never held even in principle with the gentle precept of turning the other cheek. And three weeks before the election, absolute proof of the establishment insider’s corruption goes public, and like our own Biden laptop with all its verified emails showing how much on the take “the big guy” is, the establishment tries to play it down and in the end “made matters worse” by spreading interest in the forbidden evidence. In a standard political thriller, that evidence alone would be enough to turn the election, but this is too realistic for that. In this world, there are people who will vote for Morgan’s party no matter what, for whom “nothing we can do,” explains Morgan to his foreign sponsors, “will alienate from the party…”. “The balance of power lies, as always, with the independents… And many of them are not as independent as is supposed. We can buy or bring pressure to bear on half of them… so no matter what the Patrol does, it can affect only this relatively mall block here, and it is this block we are fighting for. We are losing a little ground, and steadily, yes; since we can’t conceal from anybody with half a brain the fact that we’re doing our best to keep the cases from ever coming to trial. But… here is the extrapolation of that line to Election Day. It forecasts us to get just under forty nine percent of the total vote.” To which his sponsor asks, then you’re going to lose? How can you be so cheerful? Morgan’s big face assumed a sneering smile… “This chart deals only with living, legally registered, bona-fide voters… [but] We’ve got this machine and we know how to use it.” “Dead men, ringers, repeaters, ballot-box stuffing, and so on,” hasn’t changed since our own time—even Chicago is still a machine town under the control of Morgan’s party. The only out-of-place note in the whole electoral description is that California is still an independent state instead of a machine state, and so one of the critical electoral populations. That and that the outsider’s party knows how to fight election fraud and is willing to do so. But that’s not the end of the parallels. Kinnison, in pushing his outsider’s campaign, makes use of a revolutionary new communication system—a true social media—to push his thoughts directly to the world without having to go through the corrupt media’s fake-checkers. (Of course, he also has his own favorite media outlets.) In a way, the Galactic Patrol’s lenses are our own social media on steroids. The biggest difference is that there is no central bureaucracy to shut down a lensman’s ideas; there is no Twitter or Facebook to clamp down on news about the Biden laptop and its emails. This is, partly because it’s an extrapolation of the author’s own era of 1934 (Triplanetary) to 1950 (First Lensman), very much a retro novel. The Galactic Council consists of several systems, and in standard space opera style solar systems contain multiple inhabited planets (our own contains at least five—Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, although Pluto isn’t inhabited by Earthlings and is not part of the Council). And when they need to search the populations of all of these worlds, of course they use a computer: DalNalten and Knobos, with dozens of able helpers, combed the records of three worlds in a search which produced as a by-product a monumental “who’s who” of crime. Skilled technicians fed millions of cards, stack by stack, into the most versatile and most accomplished machine known to the statisticians of the age. That is a lot of cards. A stack of only one million cards is far greater than the height of a 30-story building. The easiest way to guess was to search for the height of millions of dollars, and dollar bills are thinner than computer cards. I suppose you could assume that over time data cards have become thinner, but that’s still a huge space of physical data to be stored and protected. This book introduces the lenses into the lensman series; and Smith does a great job of showing off just how powerful mere telepathy is. Too many authors that introduce telepathy introduce it as a magic bullet that only hits what the author needs and always misses what the author needs hidden. But instantaneous and untraceable communication is a revolutionary game-changer, and Smith both recognizes this and shows it to nearly its full potential. Because this is their first experience with the lenses, they learn as they go. As in reading Triplanetary, it’s fascinating as a silver- and bronze-age comic book reader seeing all of the parallels with the silver age Green Lantern series. Both the Corps and the Patrol are interstellar, possibly intergalactic, police forces. Both have their ancient race handing out the tools of power—bracelets for the lensmen and rings for the Lanterns. In both cases the bracelet or ring can search out worthy bearers, although in the case of the lensmen the worthy person must go to Arisia to get their own lens, whereas a Green Lantern can simply pass theirs on. Since this is the first book, and the lensmen are just learning the extent of the power of the lens, there are probably more parallels. This book is the second in the series, and the final one written, but that’s not quite true. It is the second book printed; the other books were all first published as serials and then collected. First Triplanetary was collected, and then this book written, and then the subsequent stories collected. It is likely that the author rewrote, at least slightly, the serializations when collecting them into books, so that some of this story really was written between the first and third books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    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 boys- 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 boys-own (or girls-own) adventure. As Tarzan is to adventure, as Conan is to epic fantasy, as Sherlock Holmes is to sleuthing, this is to science fiction. Hugely influential, without the Lensmen, there'd be no Jedis, no Green lantern Corps (the original writers even admit they were inspired and have added in Easter eggs like Arisia and Eddore), and no Nova Corps, which was a copy of the GL Corps... so a copy squared. I remember the series as being flawless, but it's not. Since the dialog is pretty corny it's tougher, as an adult, to buy into. And this book, First Lensman... the second of the season... serves as a transition book between Triplanetary and Galactic patrol... but it's still epic galaxy spanning space opera and with some great moments and sets up the rest of the series. Probably worth 3.5 but without the half star rankings, three.

  28. 4 out of 5

    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 a 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 aged well. The writing is sophomoric. The dialog is embarrassing. The drama is non-existent, but the dramatization is over-the-top. Characterization is repetitive: basically everybody thinks and talks the same way. Samms and Kinnison are interchangeable. Women are...highly talented afterthoughts! I have gone back to re-read books I read when I was a kid many times. I still enjoy the Tarzan and Barsoom series. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov is still a winner. Early Heinlein stories still work. This book is one I just did not really enjoy re-reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Stockett

    I want to be a lensman when I grow up. This book is just fun. There are space battles, aliens, and most importantly the lens. It's pretty much the coolest device ever. It allows you to communicate telepathically, to translate all languages, and it grants you entry into the elite Galactic Patrol. There are definitely things that feel dated. While the lens is a super cool device, it was probably even cooler in a day when cell phones didn't exist. So, it was kind of funny to see a futuristic world wh I want to be a lensman when I grow up. This book is just fun. There are space battles, aliens, and most importantly the lens. It's pretty much the coolest device ever. It allows you to communicate telepathically, to translate all languages, and it grants you entry into the elite Galactic Patrol. There are definitely things that feel dated. While the lens is a super cool device, it was probably even cooler in a day when cell phones didn't exist. So, it was kind of funny to see a futuristic world where the lensmen were the only ones that had hand held communication devices. Despite that, it's an exciting adventure, and a fun read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    This second book in the lensman series as is usually the case was not quite as good as the first book, but it is clearly a stepping stone towards the later stories. Since there are seven books (that I know about) it is kind of remarkable that the whole story line seemed to be mapped out from the very beginning. Either very impressive or the books were most likely written non-sequentially. It is kind of nice to visit a universe without quantum mechanics where Newtonian determinism is still a reas This second book in the lensman series as is usually the case was not quite as good as the first book, but it is clearly a stepping stone towards the later stories. Since there are seven books (that I know about) it is kind of remarkable that the whole story line seemed to be mapped out from the very beginning. Either very impressive or the books were most likely written non-sequentially. It is kind of nice to visit a universe without quantum mechanics where Newtonian determinism is still a reasonable concept.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.