Talk:E. E. Smith

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E E Smith's death is listed here as August 31, but we have it given over at October 1 - I don't know anything about him, can somebody who does delete the October 1 entry if it is incorrect. --Camembert

Life story[edit]

Wow! Doc Smith's life is actually quite a story. This article doesn't tell the half of it! The trouble is that the good parts aren't really relevant to his writing career. -- Derek Ross

Derek, can you shed any light on other parts of the story?
Also, does anyone know the original source material for the assertions about the letter from Campbell re: Nimitz, and also the connection to OODA loops?←this comment by User:
The OODA loop stuff I can't find a reference for (and I didn't add it), but I've added a citation for the "Nimitz/Directrix" letter. ➥the Epopt 14:42, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm afraid that the only light that I can shed is what I have read about him on the internet. If you Google for biographical information on him, it reveals details of a hard early life which he dealt with pretty well. -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:42, 17 July 2005 (UTC)
So add it to this article: we can cite sources on the Internet as well as on paper. —Phil | Talk 10:04, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
Sadly, I've never been able to rediscover the excellent potted biography which motivated me to make the above comments. Sorry, people. -- Derek Ross | Talk 06:43, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
It wasn't this one, was it? --Pariahpress 02:16, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
What a hero you are! Yes, it was that one. -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:37, 13 April 2006 (UTC)


The Harry Warner interview/biography was clearly from the late 1930's. I may or may not at one time have added the bit about powdered doughnuts, but the powdered doughnut legend has appeared on the internet; the legends I heard stated only that he had a patent related to doughnuts, but I have not been able to verify it. One of these days I hope to have time to go through the old Chem Asbtracts and see what I can find. -- Doc W 02:47 UTC 13 June 2006
The earliest web source I've been able to find for this is Computer games: 40 years of fun, ZDNet UK, November 23, 2001 by Graeme Wearden, who still hasn't responded to my inquiry. A query in Talk:Doughnut has also gone unanswered. I think I need to mark it as apocryphal. — FlashSheridan 17:20, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Clarification: I have spoken to people at SF conventions who remember Doc, remember that he usually used to bring doughnuts to the convention, and that he had one or more patents relating to doughnuts. As you note, Flash, the powdered sugar story first appeared on the web several years ago -- I'm not questioning your precedence -- but I don't have any knowledge that his notable contribution was in powdered doughnuts. Unfortunately, the online patent search search engines are only fully indexed for current patents as of the first year of online indexing of patents -- 1976 -- and earlier patents have to be investigated by hand in the absence of other information. I have seen, several years ago in an early Chem Abstracts -- a citation that I believe to be a paper by Doc while he was at the Bureau of Standards, but unfortunately I was doing research for a work project and didn't have time to pursue the topic. -- Doc W 05:00 UTC 06 July 2006
Since I've discovered that Google has implemented the first on-line searchable patent process going back to the first patent (, I've spent well over an hour searching for "Smith", "Doughnut", "Sugar", "Flour", and similar keywords without finding any clear evidence of patents by Doc related to any aspect of baking. I hope someone else has better luck than I have had. --Doc W 04:42, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, that pretty much settles that. (BTW, as I alluded to in the footnote, Mr. Wearden eventually responded, “My suspicion is that that paragraph was actually added by a colleague of mine who edited the story.”)
FlashSheridan 05:23, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Except I know people who spoke with Doc at cons about doughnuts/pastry mixes, and have my correspondence with Verna. There is still something there; I just can't prove it yet. Which may mean it was a proprietary process, never patented. --Doc W 05:22, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
An earlier citation for the powdered-sugar rumor: Andrew C. Adams raised it on Usenet in 1992 [1] and I, Bill Higgins, commented in reply [2]. I heard the story orally from Michigan SF fan Mike Brandl around 1978 but have no published citation and no reason to think it is not apocryphal. It might be falsified by research into the history of the powdered-sugar doughnut, but where does one find a scholar of doughnut history? Beamjockey (talk) 19:15, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Flash, I think the paper I noted above was the paper on oysters that you hav now cited. -- Doc W 23:26 UTC 29 August 2006

Ah-ha! The current internet home of the Dawn Doughnut Company, whom I've just e-mailed for anything they care to share about Doc. :) --Doc W 02:56, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Nice find, DocW! I hope they can at least clarify what exactly Doc Smith's contribution to doughnuts exactly WAS! -- 02:43, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
I have the response from Dawn Foods and it doesn't contain anything we didn't already know -- Doc was apparently only there until the War. Speaking of which, it's pretty well known that he did war work during the war, but I don't think I've ever heard what he did professionally after the war. Any comments? --Doc W 01:04, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
The website inserts a biography of Doc from The Dictionary Of Literary Biography between two biographies of 19th century poet Edward Elgar, for some reason. The bio of Doc asserts that he lost his job at Dawn due to the tightening pre-war economy in 1940, reports on the War years but with no information that cannot be obtained from assuming that "1942" is fictionalized autobiography, and says that he worked for J. W. Allen Company (a doughnut and frosting specialty firm) from the end of the war until his retirement. Allen appears to have been bought out by Rich Foods (Food Management, April 2000, quoted at, so that it seems very unlikely that anything can be extracted about the company from web searches. I've modified the biographical section accordingly with the citation above, but this clearly needs work. --Doc W 01:50, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I've been in communication with Doc Smith's granddaughter who confirms that Doc did indeed invent a process to get powdered sugar to stick to donuts. One of the confirmation stories offered is how Doc appeared on either I've Got A Secret OR To Tell The Truth as the man who got powdered sugar to stick to donuts. I've tried to locate which show it was on, but unfortunately none of the indexes I've been able to find have him listed as having appeared. I also searched Chemical Abstracts long ago and failed to find any citation. I've also searched the US Patent file and. . . FAILED. I've also looked for Dawn Donuts as an assignee and . . . FAILED. SO -- more details about the legend, but no cigar -- YET! Still looking! Slucchetti (talk) 23:29, 5 April 2011 (UTC) Stephen Lucchetti, April 5, 2011.

Back in 1984, I spoke to Smith's younger daughter at LACon II and she told me that he helped create the first powdered mix for making doughnuts but didn't mention anything about making powdered sugar stick to them. As a former baker, I've made lots of doughnuts, including powdered ones. All you have to do to make it stick is to roll them in the sugar before they have time to cool off and the combination of the heat and the little bit of fryer grease is all that's needed, just as it is for salting french fries. She also told me that he had a great recipe for pancakes. It started out with what type of wheat to use for the flour, when to plant it and when it should be harvested. Impossible for the average amateur, of course, but it did make great pancakes. Alas, I have nothing but my memory to go on, but I'm putting it here because somebody else might be able to make use of it.JDZeff (talk) 07:47, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Literary Influences[edit]

Some of the "literary flaws" mentioned were, in earlier decades, literary conventions. Smith must have been a voluminous reader as a youth. I see a strong trace of H. Rider Haggard in the first Skylark book, and maybe some Jules Verne. :-)

Stickmaker (

Sounds fascinating. Care to elaborate ? Derek Ross | Talk 02:42, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Possibly amusing. Richard A. Ballinger was the Mayor of Seattle before 1910 and Secretary of the Interior under Taft in 1911, resigning in apparent disgrace for not being an adequate conservationist. According to his father was also named Richard (H.) Ballinger and was an explorer and Army officer. I wonder if this person influenced certain character naming...we know that Richard Ballinger Seaton was apparently named for the Seaton Place Apartments. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doc W (talkcontribs) 03:08, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

An entry regarding the Lord Tedric novel on the main page, also discussing Gordon Ecklund's subsequent novels about Lord Tedric, makes a disparaging comment about Doc Smith's undisputed inspirational role in Star Wars. My first inclination was to simply delete the comment, but that leaves the entry unbalanced and I'm unsure about deleting the Lord Tedric reference completely. I suspect that any response will require a complete rewrite of the paragraph to complete a new context which acknowledges that this is not an example of Doc's influence on Star Wars, but does not attempt to claim that Doc has no influence on Lucas. (To the author of that comment: I have never heard Doc's influence on Star Wars as being specifically related to Lord Tedric, or to any particular story, but to his general role as an inspiration to George Lucas, which is confirmed in Mr. Lucas's birogrpahy.) I would apprecaite a discussion of the best approach to resolving this issue, though if someone has a strong opinion about editing deleting the passage, please feel free. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doc W (talkcontribs) 02:20, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

The whole "Lord Tedric" passage appears to exist solely to prove that the Iron Sphere from Stephen Eklund's books could not possibly have influenced George Lucas. I don't really see what purpose it serves within a biographical article about EE Smith. I propose that a "Lord Tedric" page be made, and the information be moved there. --Pariah Press (talk) 06:22, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
The "Lord Tedric" reference to Star Wars is still a mess. "As a result, Dr. Smith is believed by many to be the unacknowledged progenitor of themes that would appear in Star Wars." Now I don't doubt that some people do believe that _as a result_ of elements in novels published after the first Star Wars movie and written by someone other than EES, but it's patently absurd; of course, the EES "Lord Tedric" novel contains no dark knight, no energy blades, no Iron Sphere, and no destruction of planets at all. A discussion of the connection between EES and Lucas belongs outside this section - to contend that the Lensman and Skylark books influenced Lucas is far more sensible, albeit still asking for a "citation needed" (if someone can dig through Lucas's biography, that would help). (talk) 15:08, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Citation should not be based on User:[edit]

Original letter in Trestrail's estate, original typewritten speech notes in the Epopt's collection of Lensman source material.

The User: thing should not be in the artile. Can Epopt give their real name?

Fplay 06:04, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Biographical Notes & Queries[edit]

  • Verna Smith Trestrail's MosCon speech (p. 2) says that Dr. Smith's family moved to Idaho when he was six months old; Moskowitz's biography (p. 11) says that they moved the year he was born to Spokane, and moved to Idaho "after many lean times". I've followed Trestrail's version, but would appreciate corroboration.
    • I've looked at the 1900 census and added birthdates for Dr. Smith's parents and siblings. He is definitely in Spokane in 1900, not Idaho. Doc_W -- 01:07, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Moskowitz spells Dr. Smith's brother-in-law's name as "Allan" (page 13); I've followed Trestrail's spelling, "Allen", page 3 & 4.

FlashSheridan 04:55, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

(Later: I'm now following Sanders on both, though I suspect Trestrail may be right in the latter.)

  • Pariahpress: Thanks for the excellent bibliography; how would you prefer to be cited?

FlashSheridan 17:43, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

    • Way ahead of you! The bibliography is pretty much based on Sanders, with a few additions based on my internet researches. I haven't had a chance to look at Lucchetti's, but I imagine that it's far superior. --Pariah Press 05:01, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I had occasion last week to check the Chem Abstracts index. Flash has already posted the only items I found, and I could locate no reference to any patents, much less the legendary "doughnuts" patent. --Doc W 00:33, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
  • I located the copy of the infamous "Directrix" letter from Campbell that Verna shared with me in the late 80's and used it to edit that reference. The quote changed slightly; most significantly, it was NOT ADM Nimitz who contacted Campbell. --Doc W 05:06, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • I am presently reading the historical "Dew of Death" about World War I chemical warfare agent research. Combined with learning that 1200 chemists were enlisted in the military and working at the chemical warfare agent research campuses in the DC area at Catholic University and American University, and Doc's ready familiarity with poison gas attacks in what might have been the first fictional look at chemical terrorism (Triplanetary), I wonder if that's where he spent his WWI military service. I've found some of his records in the index at but don't have a subscription yet to pull them down. If I can get my act together I'll try to resolve this over the weekend.
Wow, that might explain the otherwise surprising silence about his WWI activity. Cp. Gharlane’s photo of him in uniform and (I’m speculating here) our discussion at Talk:Lensman#Differences_between_the_two_versions_of_Triplanetary.
FlashSheridan 16:53, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
I went to the library over the weekend and pulled military records from The relevant doucment is his draft card, dated 5 June 1917, wherein he requests exemption from the draft because "My wife is solely dependent on me for support and because I am (partially legible - in?) the (illegible - 2 words) (partially legible - branch?) of the (partially legible - war service?)." I'm sorry I couldn't do better, but increasing the contract was of negligible help on this image. It might tend to verify my speculation above. Of course, it is also very plausible that he worked in explosives based on his known later experience as well. The card says he is employed as a chemist at the Department of Agriculture at the time of this registration, and gave his Seaton Place Apartments address. The document also states he is of medium height and build and that he has blue eyes and brown hair.
--Doc W 02:32, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
Maybe it's because I am more used to the style of handwriting, but that exemption request looks a bit more legible to me. Has the image been re-done? "Yes — because my wife is solely dependent on me for support and because I am in the scientific branch of the civil service." There's a couple of places were words are not quite split, such as the second "because" and in "scientific". There's no big secrets here. (talk) 16:00, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

Wow, even given the lacunæ, I’d urge you to incorporate that in the main article—it does clear up a long-standing mystery.
FlashSheridan 17:31, 21 July 2007 (UTC)
Flash, I'm not sure of the legality. While the document is a public document, the image is the property of Otherwise I would have.
--Doc W 03:59, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Submitted for consideration: I found the reference just added for Jeanne's mother's remarriage by going to Google Books and searching on "E. E. Smith" Idaho. (Similar searches on "Explosives" and "Chemicals" turned up numerous other E. E. Smiths but no citation that I could say unambigiously was to Doc.) However, I've also found a citation in a book of legal records of a 1913 appeal of a lawsuit by W. E. Smith, E. E. Smith, and Carl Smith dba Smith Brothers vs. Inter-Mountain Auto Company, LTD. The citation of W. E. makes it highly probably this is Doc, and "Carl" might be a nickname of Chester Fowler Smith (or a confusion with Carl Garby). I'm not sure that this is sufficiently well defined to promote it to the main page, but though people should be aware of both the reference and the source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doc W (talkcontribs) 15:19, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Inertialess Drive[edit]

I was a 13 year old reader of the Lensman books but my Physics teacher brought to class a mention of his introducing inertial dampening drives - a concept which impressed me the most of all his work.

Was it true that EE Doc Smith "invented" the concept?

  • As far as I know, yes. --Pariah Press 05:01, 6 May 2006 (UTC)
    • Dr Smith said he was inspired by Bigelow’s Theoretical Chemistry; I haven't tracked this down yet. See inertialess drive. — FlashSheridan 16:46, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
      • Could he have meant S. Lawrence Bigelow's Theoretical and Physical Chemistry? --Pariahpress 05:25, 17 November 2006 (UTC)


Interesting. Perhaps more appropriate for the Lensman article than this one though. By the way, good work on the article, Flash. It's beginning to look really good. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:40, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes. This is starting to look really good. If I ever update Z9M9Z, I'll be sure to link to it. --Pariah Press 02:37, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks to both of you; I'll copy this to the Lensman article, and make further additions there, not here. --FlashSheridan 05:02, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Clockwork Traitor?[edit]

  • Is Clock Work traitor really the best choice for a picture on this page? The book (and all of the D'alembert series after the first book) was really written by Stephen Goldin. See his page. --Pariah Press 00:57, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Good point. -- Derek Ross | Talk 18:34, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


One l or two ? -- Beardo 05:25, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Two: "MacDougall", both in the future, e.g., Children of the Lens, and the past, Trestrail p. 3. FlashSheridan 16:56, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
While we're on that topic, Clarrissa is spelled with two R's in the series, iirc. CroydThoth (talk) 19:20, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Commenting on Trweel => Tweel and removal of hopeful links[edit]

A series of commentless edits around 23:08, 25 August 2006 changed "Trweel" (Smith's incorrect [but common] spelling, "Epic of Space" p. 80) to "Tweel" (Weinbaum's spelling, Best of Stanley G. Wienbaum p. 5), and delinked a number of terms, including the first body link to T. O'Conor Sloane, and some hopeful links, e.g., to Verna Smith Trestrail.

FlashSheridan 18:35, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

"Some clays of Idaho" by Chester Fowler Smith and Edward Elmer Smith[edit]

Quite a find by Pariah Press; the article isn't mentioned in Lucchetti's bibliography, nor yours, nor Sanders', and a Google search turned up completely blank. Chester Fowler Smith has only one Google hit, a sad one, in the Latah County, Idaho Star-Mirror: [3]; he seems to have died in California of tuberculosis the following year, after taking a teaching fellowship at Berkeley. Does anyone know anything about more him? The last name suggests a relationship, though my notes don't have any reference to him.

The URL you give seems not to work for me (a frequent problem for library catalogs). The University of Idaho Libraries search page is presumably more permanent; searching for ""Some clays of Idaho"" leads to [4]; I don't know how long that link will be valid.

If the transience is a problem we might be able to copy the thesis to Wikisource. After all since it was written in 1914, it is in the public domain now. -- Derek Ross | Talk 18:29, 3 September 2006 (UTC).
I found it a few months ago using Google Scholar. It would be amusing to see Some Clays of Idaho available online. Any Smith fans in Moscow willing to make the trip to the library? --Pariah Press 02:36, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Here's the current online location of Some Clays of Idaho Bizzybody (talk) 06:11, 2 May 2017 (UTC)


The date of his birth was pretty straight forward. Is there a reason why the date of his death is buried in a story?

[ 30 December 2006]

So far as I’m concerned, merely that I haven’t gotten that far yet :-) (The original version had worse problems than that.)
FlashSheridan 17:53, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Lee Hawkins Garby[edit]

I've done a little more playing with the census and with and have added quite a bit of detail on Dr. Carl Garby and somewhat less on Mrs. Garby. The biographical note that accompanies the Rootsweb citation suggests that they might be in Michigan in 1949, which raises speculation that the Garby's followed the Smiths to Michigan, but it is indicated as unproven information and I'm not sure if I propose following the Garby's to that extent. Since I've not been able to find Doc in the 1910 (in particular, in this context) or 1920 census, any comments about a relationship with the Garby's prior to their arrival in DC is shear speculation, but the rootsweb post provides a definite history for Garby in Idaho, and it seems plausible that Garby was a fellow student at UI who also moved to DC with Doc.--Doc W 01:31, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

I have e-mails confirming my assessment of the ancestory and family history of Dr. and Mrs. Garby (as posted so far), and have learned that their daughter is still alive in an assisted living facility. I am contemplating whether I want to ask the family for permission to interview her for this and perhaps for publication, and I have a friend who is working on an advanced degree in SF as literature who might be interested and following up on Mrs. Garby as a thesis topic.--Doc W 02:48, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I've build a stub for Mrs. Garby as/if I am able to add to it. --Doc W 03:04, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I've found a Lee Hawkins daughter of Jameson and Julia Hawkins born Missouri, Age 20 in the 1910 Census, in Bonner County Idaho. Rootsweb has a Hawkins family with a series of Jamesons beginning 1765 and einding about this Jameson's father's generation (he was 60 in 1910). There is probably a connection here, but I would need to search further to confirm that there are no other plausible Lee Hawkins. Note that the Western States marriage data base does not list a marriage for Carl Garby and Lee Hawkins, so I can't verify if they married in Idaho before moving to DC (as Doc and Jeannie did) or if they married in DC after the move. --Doc W 03:04, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Speaking as a Skylark fan, I urge you (or your friend) to follow this up. This is research worth doing and worth publishing. However speaking as a Wikipedian. I have to urge caution. This is definitely Original Research and as such policy says that it cannot be added to Wikipedia until after it has been published elsewhere. Now I'm not going to stop you publishing your results on the Wikipedia because I am as interested as you are and I know that you are doing this in good faith. However please be aware that there are many on the Wikipedia who are sticklers for policy and who would not take such a lenient view as I do. My recommendation is that you follow up, publish, then summarise the results for the articles here in order to avoid any possible problems with the Wikipedia policy "enforcers". -- Derek Ross | Talk 04:42, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Derek, thanks for the comments. I was not aware on the prohibition against original research. While I've certianly published information here not previously correlated with Doc and the Garby's, everything goes back to well established primary sources (census etc.) or secondary research as noted, so I see no problems so far. If I pursue the connection with Mrs. Garby, I will seek publication elsewhere before I incorporate it in the formal text of the article. --Doc W 00:37, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

I've added to Mrs. Garby's page today. Please review and comment.--Doc W (talk) 06:33, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Editing Needed[edit]

-Why was he called "Doc" and what are details of Phd. Lycurgus 11:29, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

"Doc" is a nickname that has been been applied apparently since he entered fandom. Certainly the paperback editions of his books beginning in the late 1950's were as by E. E. "Doc" Smith. His Ph.D. was in Chemical Engineering from Georgetown in 1919; the details are in the text.--Doc W 04:05, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. Lycurgus 12:46, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

The last two paragraphs in the "Lensman" section of this article don't fit into that category. Does anyone know what we could do with them? Perhaps a "science fiction fandom" section or something? --Pariah Press 05:03, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I managed to squeeze some specific recommendations from the fellow who rated this article:

"Hi there, I rated the article as part of an assessment drive to reduce the number of unrated biographies on Wikipedia (currently about 150,000). You should know that an assessment grade is neither a positive nor negative grade, and refers mostly to the amount of content and layout of the article. A "B" grade is actually quite good, and is the "highest" grade possible without a formal review such as within a Good Article nomination or Featured article nomination. That said, I do have a few suggestions:

  1. The article needs an infobox, probably Template:Infobox Writer.
  2. There are a lot of red links in the article, will all of them become articles, or can some of the links be removed or redirected?
  3. I would rename the section "Influenced works" as "Works influenced" and move it to further down in the article before "Fictional appearances". Also this appears to be a list and should be organized with asterisks (*) or worked into prose line.
  4. I think that the section "Scientific references" maybe more appropriately titled "Scientific influences".
  5. The reference section is confusing, it looks like the "secondary sources" are actually references, but that is not immediately obvious. I would list the full reference for each source in the reference section the first time it is used, and keep the books Smith wrote separate from the article sources. If some of the "Secondary sources" were not used as references, it is acceptable to include them in a list entitled "Further reading" following the references
  6. Some of the references can be grouped together: Refs 3, 14, 19, ect.... It may help to take a look at the Citation guidelines or perhaps Wikipedia:Footnotes."

--Pariah Press 03:30, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Good points, mostly, but I disagree with the complaint about red links. I hope that all of them will eventually become articles, and most of them are presumably already in Ellik & Evans. It won't happen immediately, but that doesn't make them incorrect; impatience is unseemly in an encyclopedia.
P.S. Nice work on the editing and census data.
FlashSheridan 17:12, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, though the census data was added by DocW. While I agree that most of the red links should become articles, I took out the Chester Fowler Smith and Dawn Doughnut Company links, as I don't think that they're notable entities. I will try to tackle the Kimball Kinnison article in the near future. --Pariah Press 04:53, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Flash, thank you for the comments about census data. I've tried to find Doc and Jeannie in the 1910 and later census but so far without success. The search engine I have accessible at home is not as well indexed as others and only includes heads of household rather than full occupancy; I'm hoping that I'll be able to find more the next time I get time to go to the library.
Pariah, one other factor to consider as we're expanding character descriptions is that some of Doc's characters were clearly based on real people, some rather closely. We've already discussed Clarissa MacDougall and her derivation from his sister-in-law, and Richard Seaton's father Fred is fairly clearly dervied from Fred Smith. I've also heard that Virgil Samms was named for and partially based on the University of Idaho football captian while Doc was there, and I think that Rod Kinnison was named for another Idaho footballer of the period. Whether this should make it into character sketches is a matter for discussion, but it is fairly plausible from the conclusion and interleaving text of 19?? in the book version of Triplanetary that the selection of Idaho friends for these characters could be related to his contention that Idaho would be protected from and touched lightly by the nuclear attack. (I realize of course that this would be a retcon of the Triplanetary serial.)
--Doc W 13:19, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
We should certainly include the bases for such characters if there is documentation to support such inclusion. I zapped a few more red links that seemed to point to people who didn't qualify as notable. Feel free to revert if you think there's actually a chance of an article being written. --Pariah Press 19:34, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
The assertion that Fred Seaton is taken from Fred Smith is purely my (informed) speculation. The item about Samms and Kinnison is I believe in a clipping in the reams of letters Verna sent in the decade I knew her before she passed away. At one time I had pretensions of doing an article about real-world inventions Doc anticipated, but that is pretty much OBE and most of what I would have included is either in this article or in other places on the Web. --Doc W 01:38, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
In keeping with the recent edit I have separated "chemical career" information and "Skylark" information completely in the two sections, and I think it reads better even if it is a little redundant. However, even thought I researched and added the information about the Garby's, it doesn't seem to work well with the flow of the rest of the article. Would it be more appropriate at this time to move it to the article on Mrs. Garby (except for an annotation that Smith and Garby were college friends as well)? And of course does the edit as a whole fit? Your thoughts are appreciated. --Doc W 03:33, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
I think that most of the material on the Garbys is indeed out of place here and should be moved to a new article. Mrs. Garby is certainly notable enough to merit her own article.--Pariah Press 06:18, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
I've followed my earlier edit by consolidating all chemical career information under the heading "chemical career" with a few appropriate changes in text elsewhere. It seems to read better with all of the chemical career information consolidated in one place instead of distributed with ambiguous chronology through the history of his writing. (Besides, he was a professional with 40 years in food chemistry; his writing was just a sideline; any objective view of his career would have writing milestones distributed at random through pages of "tried a different flour in today's pastry mix run. Went home and did a thousand words on Children of the Lens.")--Doc W 17:27, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
It’s hard to argue with your sense of proportion (Cp. “And then Professor Tolkien again interrupted his important work on Beowulf for another silly children’s book.” :-), but personally, I did prefer the strict chronological arrangement—that’s what motivated me to start my contributions, since none of the other sources had any kind of chronological discipline. (That’s one of my main gripes against Saunders’ biography; he drops the thread of the chronology for a tangent he finds interesting, and never recovers.) I do think it’s worthwhile, when reading about Doc’s writing, to know what was going on in his life at the time.
FlashSheridan 18:34, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

Flash, I do understand your point / concern, and part of why I went with the chemical career separate was that a lot of his professional history was not really well-structured chronologically through the article as we've added to it (a lot of which may be my fault). After thinking about your comment, let's consider the current organization vs. the following conceptual organization (headings could be revised, of course):

  1. Early Life and Education (Improved references to his early manual labor)
  2. 1914 - 1919 - Washington D.C. and Skylark
  3. 1919 - 1936 - Stock Mill, Skylark through Valeron
  4. 1936 - 1957 - (Perhaps in two to three sections) - Dawn Doughnuts, the Lensman novels, WWII, Allen and Co., and Fandom
  5. 1957 - 1965 - Retirement and Late Writing

With events interposed based on what we know to the extent possible, and perhaps a little themic material (e.g. the section about plotting a "space police novel" in the late 1920's) shifted between chronological sections for themic continuity. Certainly I'll note that this type of organization would probably fit better with most encyclopedia biographys I've read. (Well, Admiral Lord Nelson, and mostly looking for parallels to Honor Harrington)

--Doc W 20:13, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
Still hard to argue with your sense of proportion :-); the trade-off between chronology and thematic unity is obviously a tough one, though my prejudices go with the latter.
FlashSheridan 17:23, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
I've downloaded a copy of the biographical section to work on off-line; I'll post a possible chronological version here when I get it finished unless someone beats me to the punch. (Work is expanding to fill available time including 2 hours a day of my normal sleep cycle...)
--Doc W 04:01, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Clockwork traitor.JPG[edit]

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Image:Clockwork traitor.JPG is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in Wikipedia articles constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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Endless Search![edit]

Hi All! I'm not at all sure if this is the right place for this but here goes...

I'm new to this site & stumbled on it purely by accident while searching google for a complete set of the classic lensman series. I was given the 3rd book in the series by an uncle & a couple of years later my mother found second stage lensman. I know I must be able to get this set from somewhere as I finally managed to get the foundation trilogy & the 2 books that followed them...

So if anyone out there could help me to find or point me in the right direction this would end an agony of years searching ....

Thank you ...Del...

See E._E._Smith#_note-82 for the recommended order. I’ve had good luck ordering the books from Amazon for my nephew.
FlashSheridan 16:13, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Subspace Survivors[edit]

The Gutenberg Project page linked at the bottom has a book or story called Subspace Survivors, but that title isn't mentioned on the page here at all. The PG page says it came from the July 1960 Astounding Science Fact and Fiction, so it seems likely that it's the first 30 pages of Subspace Explorers mentioned in the article, but can this be verified? -- 02:09, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

The Best of E.E. "Doc" Smith reprints a "Subspace Survivors". It tells the same story as the first few chapters of Subspace Explorers, but has significant differences in wording, and one or two added scenes. CroydThoth (talk) 19:31, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Possible Movie?[edit]

Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment and Universal Studios are in negotiation with the Smith estate for an 18-month film rights option on the series.[1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Doc W (talkcontribs) 04:47, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Duplicated footnotes[edit]

I just finished the tedious task of cleaning up a bunch of duplicate footnotes. I know it's a bit of trouble, but please try to keep the footnotes tidy, as there are a lot of them. --Pariah Press (talk) 03:47, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Are we ready for Good Article nomination?[edit]

Well, are we? --Pariah Press (talk) 03:47, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Huh, to answer my own question, I'd say that we need to take a serious look at the images here.

--Pariah Press (talk) 03:51, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Clockwork traitor.JPG[edit]

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Image:Clockwork traitor.JPG is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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BetacommandBot (talk) 21:01, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Excessively detailed[edit]

I know that this is an matter of taste, but this article strikes me as excessively detailed.
Such items as the names of all of Smith's (non-notable) siblings, the professions of Smith's wife's parents, the details of the death of his classmate, are, if not fancruft, then biography cruft: "content of importance (I would have said "of interest") only to a small population of enthusiastic fans of the subject in question."
Facts are good things, very good indeed, but as RAH says, "Would you bolt a bathtub onto whatever project you're building, just because you have one available?"
Let's exercise a little editorial discretion here and trim some of this.
- Respectfully, Writtenonsand (talk) 23:11, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

As one of the contributors of the "excessive detail" there is a part of me that concurs that a more general biographical summary would be useful, and a part of me that wants to hold fast to every byte of minuta that we've found and added to Doc's life's tale. The latter is particularly true because I think this page is largely maintained by and useful to that "small population of enthusiastic fans," unless and until Mr. Howard's efforts to bring the Lensman novels to screen greatly expands Dr. Smith's fanbase. This also ties to the ongoing discussion between myself and Mr. Sherian about the relative value of organizing the biographical section by a activity (as per my last edit which seems to form the backbone of the current exposition) vs. a purely chronological listing which alternates between his chemical/food industry details, his writing, and his fan history.
Based on the general level of biography in, for example, the literary encyclopedias which cover Doc's career, a well-rounded paragraph in summary added above the section box and filling out the current introduction expositin might be appropriate, with the balance of information remaining "below the line" or perhaps shuffled off into footnotes.
Comments/questions? Doc W (talk) 03:19, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
I also have to plead guilty to adding detail, especially when it's not available in the standard sources. My model is McCullough’s biographies, which do start with such background, and my anti-model is Smith’s existing biographies, by Moskowitz and Sanders. Sanders is also my anti-model for mentioning inconsistencies in the sources, since the inconsistencies are evidence of their reliability (or lack thereof). In particular, the disagreements among them about the date of Smith’s doctorate is troubling and relevant.
Sanders is also one of my anti-models for preferring a strict chronological ordering of the biographical section; his thematic ordering is, in my opinion, an inexcusable disaster. I’m certainly not saying that Doc W’s thematic ordering is either inexcusable or a disaster :-), but I do prefer the original ordering, and suggest reverting to it. Among other things, one of the reasons I started work on the biography was to discover the relationship between Smith’s life and work, which I think the rearrangement obscures. For example, Smith’s employment while writing Skylark was obviously an influence on Seaton’s day job, and Doc W’s discovery of his possible involvement in chemical warfare is, in my opinion, highly relevant to an understanding of the original Triplanetary; in my opinion a strictly chronological ordering is useful for understanding both of these connections.
FlashSheridan (talk) 17:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Hearing no objection, I'm going to start a partial reversion to strict chronology, while trying to preserve the valuable contributions in the meantime, e.g., Pariah Press's footnote cleanup, and Doc W’s documentation.
FlashSheridan (talk) 22:34, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Moskowitz and Gharlane[edit]

I'm going to remove the note about Moskowitz being inaccurate; I've heard this too, but I don't think we can use Gharlane as a reliable source. (It's not a question of whether he's right; it's just not a published, peer-reviewed source, that's all.) In any case I think we need to either trust a source or not use it. The best thing would be to support whatever facts are quoted from other sources too.

I also would say that the comment about the editorship of Amazing being a basic error is perhaps unfair. Sloane was indeed under Gernsback at the time Skylark was sold, but Ashley's The Time Machines says that Sloane was doing the practical editorial work, including reading all the fiction. Gernsback had final say over what was printed. In these circumstances I think it's excusable to refer to Sloane as the editor. Mike Christie (talk) 00:52, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Fair points, though I'm not sure avoiding Moskowitz is really an option. (It's sad that the published sources are so much worse than the amateur ones.) I did come across a dead-tree published source for Moskowitz's inaccuracy, in Clarke’s Astounding Days, which I'll try to dig up and present eventually.
FlashSheridan (talk) 22:31, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


The Red Lensman[edit]

There is one apparently now unknown, and sort lived, book in the Lensman series which is missing from the book list for this series. Dr. Smith did publish a book titled "The Red Lensman" As a young teenager in 1967 I read this book, it was a numbered first addition signed copy with, as I recall book number #96. It sticks in my mind because this was first such book I had seen. The Red Lensman book was later incorporated into the Second Stage Lensman. When you read the Second Stage Lensman you can see the basic story. Lensman Kimball Kinnison sent Clarissa MacDougall to the Plant of the Amazons. Kinnison with Mentor of Arisia watching gave Clarissa the "treatment" and made her a lensman he did this so Clarissa could deal with the Amazons who had rather impressive mental powers, she called herself a "Red Lensman", "not a real lensman". The Red Lemsman was the story of her work with the Matriarchy of Layrane and the Amazon Kinnison called Helen of Troy. I wish I had this book now, a signed and numbered edition of the Red Lensman it would surely be worth it's weight in gold.Transmaster (talk) 07:45, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

His biography[edit]

I think it looks a little clumsy the way it is now. The chemical and his writing career are tangled into each other. Why not dedicate one section to his life as a writer, and another to his work in the food industry and such? It has already been tried, but it was changed back the way it was. (talk) 00:09, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

A couple of notes[edit]

I must say this is a beautiful article.

A couple of things that could be added, if they could be tracked down.

  • Many years ago there was a parody of Grey Lensman in Analog (the auccessor to Astunding); it may have been in a parody issue.
  • I recall a quote (Heinlein?) to the effect that he believed that the character could repair a downed ship(?) because Smith convinced him that he could have done this himself.

Anything on concepts Smith brought to SF? The credit, perhaps?Mzk1 (talk) 22:37, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

The Lensman Series[edit]

"...Gray Lensman was first place in the Analytical Laboratory statistics "by a lightyear", with three runners-up in a distant tie for third place."

OK, what happened to second place? Dick Kimball (talk) 14:39, 10 August 2012 (UTC) Dick Kimball (talk) 14:42, 10 August 2012 (UTC) Dick Kimball (talk) 14:44, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

2 Tied:
• Episode on Dhee Minor (Harry Walton)
• A Question of Salvage (Malcolm Jameson)
• Space Rating (John Berryman)
3 Rust (Joseph Kelleam)
4 Shawn's Sword (Lee Gregor)
All sunk without trace, as far as I'm aware. But "distant third place" should obviously be "second". I will fix it.
"And Rogers' cover received an unusual amount of favorable comment. Since this issue as a whole was rather generally voted best of the year, places in the above ratings were hotly contested." (Astounding, 12/39)
Paul Magnussen (talk) 17:33, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Fixed. Paul Magnussen (talk) 17:38, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

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  1. ^ SCI-FI Weekly, Jan. 14, 2008. accessed January 14, 2008.