Galactic Patrol (novel)
Dust-jacket from the first edition
|Author||Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.|
|Cover artist||Ric Binkley|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Preceded by||'First Lensman'|
|Followed by||'Gray Lensman'|
Galactic Patrol is a science fiction novel by American author Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.. It was first published in book form in 1950 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 6,596 copies. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding in 1937. The stories in this volume were the first parts written as part of the original Lensman saga - although portions of Triplanetary were written earlier, they were not originally part of the Lensman story and were only later revised to connect them to the rest of the series. First Lensman was written later to bridge the events in Triplanetary to those in Galactic Patrol.
In the third of his Lensman series, Smith introduces Kimball Kinnison, who will be the hero of the next four books - Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen and (to a lesser extent) Children of the Lens. Kinnison, along with Clarissa MacDougall, are the ones for whom the Arisians have been waiting and working, the penultimates of the human breeding program they set up many eons earlier.
Galactic Patrol deals with the earliest stages of Kinnison's career, starting with his graduation as a Lensman from the Patrol's academy. His graduation comes at a hard time for civilization. Organized pirates, known as Boskonians, have gained a great advantage with a new type of space drive, making their ships far faster than anything the Patrol can build. That is, with the exception of one ship, the Britannia. New and experimental, built to be the fastest thing in space, she has abandoned the traditional ray armament of a space ship for an offensive weapon much older - explosive artillery, fired at an opponent held in place by unbreakable tractor beams. Her mission is to capture a Boskonian ship of the new type intact enough to get the secret of her speed (hence the artillery, which the scientists of the patrol think can damage another ship enough to disable it without destroying the information they must have). The experimental nature of her weapon means that she would be useless to a man experienced only in using the standard weapons of the time, so she is given to the inexperienced Kinnison to command.
Kimball Kinnison graduates first in his class from the Academy, and is fitted with a Lens - the quasi-living symbol of authority that allows a Lensman to communicate telepathically (among other sundry powers). He is offered the big, but dangerous, assignment of captaining an experimental ship with orders to capture a "pirate" (Boskonian) ship and extract information concerning the new power source that is allowing the pirates to run roughshod over the hapless patrol. Kimball is successful in capturing a ship, but must flee the converging pirate raiders. Much of the first third of the book is taken up with his efforts to evade his villainous pursuers and return his priceless information to Tellus (as Earth is known to the inhabitants of Civilization). In the process, Kinnison finds and frees a previously unknown, mentally enslaved, race (Velantians) from their masters, making valuable allies and adding a new member race to civilization. He also destroys several pirate ships, completely frustrates the main villain of the book "Helmuth speaking for Boskone" and deduces the location of one of the pirates' secret bases.
Kinnison successfully returns to Earth in a captured pirate ship and is promoted to the exalted rank of Unattached Lensman. Unattached Lensmen (commonly called "Gray Lensmen" because their uniform is made of plain gray leather) are endowed with virtually unlimited power and authority. He immediately sets out to infiltrate what he believes to be an important pirate base. Unfortunately, Kinnison is in over his head and the telepathically inclined "Wheelmen" who man the base discover and almost kill him before he can escape. While in the hospital recovering Kinnison is assigned the pretty, but tough, nurse Clarissa MacDougall to help him convalesce. He behaves badly and is rude and condescending to her, blindly lashing out because he blames himself for his abject failure with the "Wheelmen". Kinnison, once recovered, goes to Arisia to learn how better to use his Lens. Kinnison is the first Lensman to be accepted for further training by the Arisians, and leaves weeks later many times stronger and with numerous additional capabilities. He is now a Second Stage Lensman.
For practice, Kinnison tries out these capabilities by infiltrating a Patrol base and by trying to control the mind of a base member from a distance. After he reveals himself to the base commander, he is asked to judge a murder case that the local authorities have been unable to solve. As a Lensman, Kinnison can be called upon to be judge, jury and executioner. He then reads the minds of the two accused men, finds which one is guilty, and using his mental powers, executes the culprit. This is accepted by all concerned as reasonable and proper because in the years since “First Lensman” the members of Civilization have come to see that Lensmen are in actuality, completely honest and totally incorruptible!
Using the information that Kinnison brought back about the new space drive, the Galactic Patrol quickly rebuilds its ships and goes out pirate hunting again. The Boskonians are being beaten back with the new ships when suddenly all Boskonian ships disappear from space! When they appear again, they have also been rebuilt and are now equal to the best that Civilization has to offer. STALEMATE! The bloody war goes on. Every time Boskone and Civilization meet, ships and men die but nether side can gain any advantage. Kinnison decides to stop punching it out without gaining anything and aim for the head!
During the running battle with the pirates to get the information on their new space drive back to Tellus, he got a directional line to Helmuth's base when he tapped a communication link. If he can get another line he can find Boskone's secret headquarters. In the end, Kinnison locates the headquarters of Helmuth who “speaks for Boskone” and, with the help of the Grand Fleet of the Galactic Patrol, destroys it and kills Helmuth.
New York Times reviewer Basil Davenport declared that Galactic Patrol was "far above the interplanetary cowboy and Indian school" because of "Smith's ability to create planets with truly original climates and inhabitants" as integral parts of his story. P. Schuyler Miller, reviewing the same 1950 edition favorably for Astounding, declared that "What John Ford is to horse-opera -- Grade A, homogenized -- Doc Smith is to space-opera."
- 1937, USA, Astounding, Pub date September 1937, serialized magazine publication in 6 parts
- 1950, USA, Fantasy Press, Pub date 1950, Hardback
- 1961, Germany, Zimmermann, Pub Date 1961, Hardback, as Galaktische Patrouille
- 1964, USA, Pyramid Books, Pub date 1964, Paperback
- 1997, UK, Ripping Publishing ISBN 1-899884-14-9, Pub date July 1997, Paperback
- 1998, USA, Old Earth Books ISBN 1-882968-11-5, Pub date December 1998, Paperback
- Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 237.
- Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1998)". Retrieved 2008-03-05.
- Tuck, Donald H. (1978). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. pp. 397–398. ISBN 0-911682-22-8.