Talk:Lensman series

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To Sail Beyond the Sunset[edit]

Hi editors of Wikipedia. There is a reference to the Lensman series towards the end of Heinlein's "To Sail Beyond the Sunset". He claimed that Doc smith's Lensman participated in one of the Circle of Ouroboros's operations. Not sure if this is worthy of inclusion in the article or not (I haven't gotten to the Lensman series yet) but I figured I'd let you know. ~David.

"Clairvoyance" and Incest[edit]

1. Calling the Second Stage Lensmen's sense of perception "clairvoyance" is an accurate description. To quote Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

(a) the power or faculty of discerning objects not present to the senses. (b) the ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception: PENETRATION.

So I hope that no one will *again* delete my edit clarifying that what Smith calls "perception" is a form of clairvoyance.

2. I could have sworn that I strengthened the references to the Children of the Lens having an incestuous marriage resulting in a new race of superhumans. Yet apparently someone reversed my edits, as the article currently reads "Some readers infer the possibility of an incestuous group-marriage..."

This is simply inadequate. There is a clear implication that in the future the Children of the Lens will mate to produce a race of super-humans-- not Homo Sapiens, but Homo Superior-- and it seems Smith would have stated it more directly if the censorship of the publishing field were not so strong at the time.

The Universes of E.E. Smith says, under the "sex" entry: " is implied that Christopher Kinnison in maturity would mate with all four of his sisters (COL 72, 114, etc.)

If there are "Doubting Thomases" out there, let me quote from the Lensman series itself. I'm quoting from the Old Earth Books facsimiles of the original hardbacks, not the error-ridden paperbacks from Pyramid and Berkeley.

...each of the Kinnison girls knew it would be a physical and psychological impossibility for her to become even mildly interested in a man not at least her father's equal. They each had dreamed of a man who would be her own equal, physically and mentally, but it had not yet occurred to any of them that one such man already existed.

--Children of the Lens, p. 72 (near end of Chapter 7)

The kids were special in another way, too, he [Kit] had noticed lately, without paying it any particular attention... They didn't feel like other girls. After dancing with one of them, other girls felt like robots made out of putty. Their flesh was different. It was firmer, finer, infinitely more responsive. Each individual cell seemed to be endowed with a flashing, sparkling life; a life which, interlinking with that of one of his own cells, made their bodies as intimately one as were their perfectly synchronized minds.

--p. 114 (second page of Chapter 12)

...the feeling the Five had for each other was much deeper than that felt by ordinary brothers and sisters.

She [Karen] didn't want to fight with Kit. She liked the guy! She liked to feel his mind in rapport with hers, just as she liked to dance with him; their bodies as completely in accord as were their minds.

--p. 154 (beginning of Chapter 16)

This was an equally strange Kathryn; blazing with fury yet suffusing his [Kit's] mind with a more than sisterly tenderness; a surprising richness.

--p. 223 (four pages into Chapter 23)

[Mentor said] "Your lives will be immeasurably fuller, higher, greater than any heretofore known in this universe. As your capabilities increase, you will find that you will no longer care for the society of entities less capable than your own."

--p. 291 (near end of Chapter 29)

[Mentor continued] "The time may come when your descendants will realize...

--p. 292 (end of Chapter 29)

The article currently states:

In addition, Smith is reported to have told Robert A. Heinlein at a science fiction convention that there were sufficient unresolved conflicts to write a seventh book, but that he did not think it could be published in the moral climate of the times.

This is explicitly stated in "Larger than Life", Heinlein's tribute to Smith which is included in the Heinlein collection Expanded Universe, so I'm changing the article to reflect that more specific info.

--Lensman003 06:51, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Smith certainly created the Space Opera genre but surely his "The Skylark of Space" was the first space opera. His Lensman series following closely behind it. -- Derek Ross

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I don't know; how do you define "space opera"? If it's an adventure set in outer space, then I submit the genre was invented by Jules Verne in From the Earth to the Moon. Skylark was probably the first interstellar space opera.

The introduction describes the novels as being afflicted by racist stereotypes. I am not going to argue that point, but further down, presumably in support of this claim, is the statement that Kimball Kinnison is blonde and blue eyed. I cannot find any statement to that effect, at least in the first novel, Galactic Patrol. The scene in which the reader is most directly invited to imagine Kinnison's physical appearance is that in which he dons the grey uniform marking his new status of unattached (ie accountable only to his own conscience). In that scene his reflection in the mirror has a cap covering his hair and his eyes (colour unspecified) are partially obscured by goggles. There is no argument that EES was a reactionary politically; it may be the case that his illustrator conformed to the cliches of contemporary pulp publication, but I think this is overegging the pudding. -- Alan Peakall 12:17 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I seem to recall that Kinnison's eyes are specifically described as "gray" at one point. -Ethan Fleischer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Yes, in Second Stage Lensman there's a scene where Kimball and Christopher Kinnison are looking at each other, and it's described as "Steely gray eyes stared into eyes of gray" or something like that. --Lensman003 09:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Couple of points[edit]

Anyone think there should be something added about the autobiographical and to my mind controversial (for there time) comments about the problems of the munitions industry during WWII in the US in the revised version of Triplanetary. I consider those pages that describe "the siberians" at the mutinions factory as a very rich detail of one aspect of personal morality in business and war that is as important in the literature of its time as Catch 22 was in the 60's or MASH.

As for charging E.E.Smith with racist/sexist stereotypes, I would suggest that at least some aspects of his writings deliberately challenged those. On the other hand, he was a product of his times and I would point out that all writing of the era, no matter how sensitive, aware or even lauded for successfully promoting wipping out those stereo types, had to write about believable people with believable attitudes. To successfully promote social change in the perception of women and minorities in the middle of the 20th century you had to portray the characters that your readers and viewers identified with not with perfectly unbigoted attitudes, but that actually had to confront their own predjudices and overcome them. For example the bits about Lonabar (and Illona of Lonibar) in Grey Lensman and Second Stage Lensman examine first a heroic and bigoted male (Kinnison) and then a societaly acceptible woman (Clarissa) confronting some of their stereotypes and predjudices and overcoming them to deal with this feminist society (which itself was bigotted in the opposite respect).


PS, I use the handle Nadreck just about everywhere I need a handle on the internet, yes it pays homage to Doc Smiths character but when I first got involved in the Internet I was living in Yellowknife in Canadas far north and as I considered Nadreck a perfect handle.

Seventh book[edit]

Somwhere in my garage is my set of Lensman books (UK edition). I definitely recall a seventh, although I also recall that it seemed to have nothing to do with the preceeding stories. Noisy | Talk 10:33, Mar 19, 2005 (UTC)

That would be Masters of the Vortex which is mentioned below the list of the 6 main books. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 08:26, Mar 21, 2005 (UTC)
There are also editions which erroneously list Spacehounds of IPC among the Lensman novels. While it could be argued that the conflicts of Spacehounds were similar to what might be expected in the First Jovian War, there are no other indications of correspondence between Spacehounds and the core Lensman novels. --Doc W 17:21, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Female Lensmen[edit]

An obscure point maybe, but significant: there is nothing in the article drawing attention to an apparent contradiction in the later books by David Kyle.

In First Lensman, as mentioned in the article:

The first woman sent to Arisia is returned unharmed with the message that no more women are to be sent. She says that "only one woman will ever receive a lens".

This obviously refers to Clarissa McDougal, the "Red Lensman". However Kyle's books if I recall correctly, feature several female Lensmen (at least one of which was human). Was this ever resolved, and if so how? --Phil | Talk 14:14, Apr 25, 2005 (UTC)

Yes, the female Lensman is a contradiction--or is just retconing the series to be more PC. Yes, there are steriotypes, but ALL literiture has steriotypes, and Kyle was a cheesy and pendantic about the female Lensman. User:Señor Cardgage

GURPS Lensman has a reasonably thorough discussion of female Lensmen. The author of that book has been known to refer to Kyle as the "Black Historian," due to the impossibility of reconciling his novels with the History of Civilization as compiled by the First Historian. ➥the Epopt 20:18, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Do you always refer to yourself in the third person, Epopt? If we mentioned the gender-based contradictions in Kyle's books, we would then be obligated to address the technological contradictions, the procedural contradictions, etc. Such contradictions are many, and are of little interest unless one is engaged in the futile excersize of attempting to reconcile Smith's and Kyle's respective series in every detail. I am of the opinion that non-Smith sources such as Kyle, the Anime, Garrett, Ellern, and (so sorry!) Barrett warrant only a cursory mention (with perhaps a sentence or two of summary) in this article, unless and until it includes more detail in the sections covering Smith's original work. -Ethan Fleischer

Remember, Ethan, that we are among minds that can become unstable at high levels of stress. Full knowledge of the identities of some of the Operators must be withheld to avoid adverse reactions. I fully agree with your evaluation of importance of the tertiary sources, even those who worked to avoid contradictions penetrate the maskirovka. Their existence is perhaps mildly interesting, their relevance to Smith's series only tangential. ➥the Epopt 16:29, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Remember, it's just a book, and not real. - CHAIRBOY () 17:22, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I assure you, the books are most certainly real. I have a full set right here. ➥the Epopt 18:37, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Question: So it’s sexist for Smith to have all-male Lensmen, but not sexist for Whedon to have all-female vampire slayers?

Who ever said it isn't? --Pariahpress 03:02, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Smith is only sexist when looked at through modern eyes - an author putting women in any form of comabt unit at that time (especially with the very morally conservative s-f readership of the time) would have been ridiculed. Remember that Heinlein's female starship captains in Starship Troopers were seen as 'out-there' when the novel was first published. (talk) 22:59, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Primary Beam[edit]

Someone edited my paragraph on "Primary Beam" (under Weapons) to say the spent shells were "energy" shells, and inserted a note saying they were like modern bomb-pumped X-ray lasers. This is a misinterpretation of the canon. The power source for primary beams was still the spaceship's main power grid, using Cosmic Energy. It was the primary's emitter which was spent and ejected with each shot. --Lensman003 09:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

  • The error's basis is probably from GURPS Lensman, which describes the primary beams in just such a way. --Pariah Press 04:45, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Harry Harrison[edit]

Some kind of shout out to Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers would be appropriate, it's so clearly a loving parody of all that rockribbed irony-free universe spanning pulp insanity :)

Well, perhaps. My opinion is that no one should touch SSOTGR with a barge pole until they've read all of the Skylark and Lensman books. At which point they should read Harrison's hilarious story. That way they'll get maximum enjoyment from the parody without spoiling their enjoyment of the originals. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:56, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

I can't give citations for this, but I do seem to remember reading that SSOTGR and the Bil The Galactic Hero novels were distinctly non-loving parodies. Harrison, as a pacifist, hated the racist (species-ist?) and militaristic overtones of that form of story. (talk) 23:06, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Differences between the original and ret-con versions of the series[edit]

The chapters are named in the book version, but merely numbered in the original. Copy editing of both the Amazing and Astounding text is poorer than the book versions, but the books omit occasional (apparently authorial) blank lines between paragraphs.

Differences between the two versions of Triplanetary[edit]

  • Roderick Kinnison's name in the original version of Triplanetary was Commissioner Hinkle, Amazing Stories March 1934 p. 23, corresponding to first book edition pp. 208 & 212.
  • Senator Morgan's scene seems to be a complete interpolation, March p. 23 ~ p. 208, as was the term "Triplanetary Patrol," (p. 210), fake golden meteors (p. 211), the introduction of Bergenholm (p. 212), and the use of the term "free" as the opposite of "inert" (p. 225).
  • References to Gharlane passim, e.g., pp. 163–6. (Gharlane is not named in the original versions of the series—no Eddorian is, and only the All-Highest is even mentioned by title.)
  • In the book version, when Gray Roger discusses the possibility of recapturing Clio Marsden, Conway Costigan, and Captain Bradley, he says that he cares nothing about Bradley or the woman. In the original, he cares nothing about only Bradley, having about "the woman… thoughts to a clean and normal mind unthinkable." April 1934 p. 39, first edition p. 246.
  • In the original, Rodebush's report on the destruction of Gray Roger's ship states merely, "it is practically certain that Roger and his last eleven men died," April 1934 p. 39. On page 251 of the first edition, the word "practically" is deleted, and the following text is added: "since it is clear that the circumstances and conditions were such that no life could possibly have survived." This suggests that Dr. Smith was keeping open the possibility of a sequel involving Roger, which presumably was no longer an option after the main Lensman novels were written.
  • There are differences in the phrasing referring to the partial neutralization of inertia (Cp. the interpolated Arisian discussion preceding the main narrative and the inertialess drive article. On the other hand, the reference on page 272 corresponds to the original in April 1934, p. 52.)
March 1934, p. 33: "They must have neutralization too; and if it's one hundred percent we'll never catch them…but it isn't." vs "Conway's data indicated that they have only partial neutralization of inertia - if it's one hundred percent we'll never catch them - but it isn't" on p. 231.
  • The justification and mitigation of the destruction of the Nevian city by the Boise is a later interpolation, e.g., Cleveland's comment on page 284, missing from April 1934 p. 58:
"But we had it to do . . . and at that, it's not as bad as what they did to Pittsburgh - they would have evacuated all except military personnel."

Likewise Clio Marsden's plea:

"Oh, no, Conway - no! Don't let them!" Clio was sobbing openly. "I'm going to my room and crawl under the bed - I'll see that sight all the rest of my life!"
  • Costigan's suggestion, "First, try talking," is also an interpolation; in the original, Nerado clearly initiates communication and discussion of a truce.

This suggests to me that Dr. Smith, after World War II, may have become more uneasy with the pointless slaughter of civilians who would turn into allies. There are odd suggestions of parallels with World War I which are unchanged in both versions, e.g., Costigan's excessive use of poison gas on civilians. I don't know what to make of this; was Dr. Smith suggesting a parallel between the Triplanetary Council and Germany under the Kaiser, with excessive violence which can turn into an alliance? Nevia's stance as a superior observer (e.g., Nerado's comment, "Destruction, always destruction… they are a useless race," February p. 81, p. 160) drawn into internecine conflict suggests a parallel with America. Completing the parallel would require identifying Gray Roger with France, which I admit might be excessive.

The technological hierarchy is surprising viewed in the context of the Lensman novels. Initially, the Nevians' technology is quite clearly superior: they are the inventors of faster than light travel, which does not require the fully inertialess drive. Nerado's comparison of humanity to the semicivilized fishes of the greater deeps does not seem unreasonable at the time. The later books' references to Bergenholm slight the Nevian's technology, but in Triplanetary, Cleveland and Rodebush's invention of the inertialess drive is separate development, leading only to a largely irrelevant speed-up of interstellar travel, and some odd temporary side effects.

The Triplanetary forces are in turn quite clearly superior to Gray Roger, who is simply a pirate (with very human proclivities, albeit some Jovian improvements) who would soon be defeated, and later destroyed. He seems an oddly impotent vehicle for an entity as powerful as Gharlane.

FlashSheridan 15:58, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Very possibly, the impotence you suggest is a consequence of rewriting Roger as Gharlane. There are undoubtedly other differences that you haven't cited above (e.g. Gharlane's efforts to mindprobe Conway and Cleo, which were blocked by an Arisian Watchman).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I can't render an informed opinion as I've never read the magazine version of Triplanetary, but I always assumed Gharlane's impotence was due to Smith retconning as Gray Roger to be an Arisian. It's one of the things that annoys me about this story. I think shoe-horning it into the Lensman series was a mistake. Just my opinion of course, but I know I'm not alone. --Lensman003 09:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Costigan's use of V2 was motivated solely by the fact that he was operating almost effectively alone against a planetary-scale opponent. Forced to indulge in highly asymmetric warfare, with any access to electronics or nucleonics effectively blocked, and with no knowledge of Nevian biochemistry except that they were quasi-amphibian oxygen breathers, he had no choice but to guess that they were sufficiently similar to humanity that the toxin V2 (which I've always presumed to be a nerve agent, though of course the original Triplanetary was written in advance of discovery of any of the nerve agents, much less the V series), which he knew how to synthesize, was also toxic to Nevians. Notwithstanding the modern horror accorded to chemical weapons, sometimes seeming even greater than that accorded to the more dangerous nuclear and biological variety, there remain a number of tactical situations where, frankly, they could be used more effectively than either conventional forces or less restricted stragetic weapons. NOT, mind you, that I am arguing that they should be legitimized. But, misguided or not, it was concern about those potential tactical advantages that lead us to interdict Saddam before he could transfer his presumed chemical arsenal to guerilla/saboteur/terrorist forces that could use them effectively. Costigan was in an ideal situation to use them effectively.

Doc W, 05:18 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Differences between the two versions of Galactic Patrol[edit]

  • Commandant Fritz von Hohendorff's account of the Patrol's early history at the beginning of the magazine version of Galactic Patrol (Astounding September 1937 p. 13) does not describe what happened in the magazine version of Triplanetary; the references on pages 8 and 9 of book version to Virgil Samms and the Triplanetary Patrol are a later interpolation.
  • In the original (ibid.), Lieutenant-Marshall von Hohendorff states, “In the last hundred years, no wearer of the Lens has disgraced it”; the book version instead says, “No wearer of the Lens has ever disgraced it.”
  • The original (ibid.) refers to the “invention” of the Lens, whereas the book version states that it “was developed for us by the Arisians."
  • The original frequently uses the adjective “enforcement” to describe Patrol spacecraft, e.g., “It takes ten years of proved accomplishment to earn command of a first-class enforcement vessel,” (September 1937, p. 15); the book version (p. 14) omits the adjective. Cp. e.g., “enforcement vessel” September 1937 p. 22 vs. “Patrol ship” first edition p. 23.
  • The footnote on September 1937 p. 17 states that gyroscopes were used for inertialess navigation; the book version (p. 18) corrects this to “galactic lines of force,” presumably because gyroscopes would not work while inertialess.
  • In the original Kinnison’s rank while in command of the Britannia was “Vice-Commander” (p. 17); in the book it is “Lieutenant.”
  • The original (footnote p. 21) gives the exact time for a record-breaking transgalactic run by Mays and Cornell as 1253 hours. The corresponding passage in the book version (p. 20) omits the footnote. (This may be because in later books, inertialess speed could be greatly increased outside the dense space inside the galaxy.)
  • In the original (p. 24) the space-axe is described as “a combination and sublimation of battle-axe, mace, and bludgeon.” In the book, “lumberman’s picaroon” is added (p. 26).
  • In the original, Kinnison states (p. 34) “In Lens-to-Lens communication we can cover real distances, but without a Lens at the other end I can cover only a few thousand kilometers.” The corresponding passage on p. 40 of the first edition omits this detail.
  • On page 34 of the original, Kinnison says “…the Third Galactic Survey. That was in the days of the semi-inert drive, when it took years to cross the galaxy.” The corresponding passage in the first book edition, on page 42, omits mention of the semi-inert drive, merely stating “that was a hell of a long time ago.” The original is not consistent with Triplanetary, in which the era of partial inertialessness lasted only from Amazing March 1934 p. 33, until April 1934 p. 52.
  • On p. 147 of the November 1937 Astounding, the Arisian watchman states that Helmuth stole his thought-screen from Velantia, and that the Arisians had not foreseen this. (This is inconsistent with the detailed Arisian visualization of the Cosmic All in First Lensman p. 304.) In the book version (p. 135), Helmuth instead received his thought-screen from a messenger from Ploor, which of course is not mentioned in the original, to avoid spoilers. Cp. the letter from Arthur Dawson on page 159 of the February issue: “how did Helmuth get thought-screens from Velantia?”
  • On page 57 of the December issue, Kinnison implicitly claims to have invented the term “Boskonia”: ‘In my own mind, I have been calling the whole culture “Boskonia”’. This is omitted from page 144 of the first edition.
  • Kinnison’s second command is the “cruiser Britannia II” on page 59 of the December Astounding; on page 148 of the first edition, it is the “heavy battle cruiser Britannia”.
  • The Boskonians originally had bases upon both Neptune and Pluto (12/37 p. 60); in the book version (p. 148), “the Boskonians had established bases upon Neptune's moon”.
  • On page 121 of the January 1938 issue, Surgeon-Marshall Lacy says he believes Kinnison's will be the “second absolutely perfect male skeleton I have ever seen.” On page 194 of the book version, he says instead “first.”
  • The comments (page 196 of the book) by Lacy on Clarissa MacDougall's ancestry being pure Samms, and Haynes' on Kinnison's ancestry, are interpolations, and do not appear in the corresponding passage on page 122.
  • Haynes' question to Kinnison on his return to Arisia, “Didn't Mentor tell you never to go back there?” is an interpolation (p. 204 of the first edition vs. p. 126 of the original.)
  • Mentor addresses Kinnison as “Kimball Kinnison of Earth” in the original (p. 127), corrected to “Tellus” in the book (p. 205).
  • Kinnison at first perceives Mentor as the “same grotesque, dragonlike entity who had measured him for his Lens”; in the book, the work “dragonlike” is omitted. (op. cit.)
  • In the original, Mentor tells Kinnison, “you are ahead of time by several of your years”; in the book this is changed to “your present quest ... was expected”. (op. cit.)
  • In the original, Mentor says, “there has been one other who will return,” corrected to “there are several others who will return” (p. 128 vs. p. 206).
  • In the original, Mentor says, “you have made a start which is really surprising, even to me, your sponsor.” “really” is changed to “almost” in the book (p. 129 vs p. 208).
  • Kinnison's mental bouts with Mentor are described in the original as “requiring... such terrific outpourings of mental force that not even the master could stand the awful strain for more than half an hour.” In the book this is changed to ““no human mind could stand the awful strain for more than half an hour.” (p. 129 vs p. 208).
  • In the book (p. 215 ff.) Kinnison opens communications with the Patrol base on Radelix by asking for Lensman Gerrond by name; the other three officers are not explicitly referred to as Lensmen. In the original (p. 132 ff.), the four are collectively referred to as Lensmen, with the commander never identified by name.
  • In the original, both of the suspects “tell perfectly straight stories under the Lens and all other lie detectors.” (p. 133). In the book (p. 217), instead, “neither will let me—or any other Lensman so far—touch his mind.” Kinnison accepts this in the book: “Lots of innocent people simply can't stand Lensing and have mighty strong blocks.”
  • Kinnison's oath, “Holy rockets, no!” is amended to “Holy Klono, no!” in the book (p. 135 vs. p. 220). Similarly Wolmark (Helmuth’s immediate junior), “But—great blinding rockets, how?”, (February p. 81, missing from p. 248). Also Port Admiral Haynes on page 84, missing from the book edition page 253: “Holy jumping rockets.”
  • On page 94 of the February issue, it is noted that “years later, astronomers observed and recorded a peculiarly behaving Nova in Star Cluster AC 257-4736,” which is omitted from page 271.

FlashSheridan 17:09, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Differences between the two versions of Gray Lensman[edit]

  • As before, the chapters are named in the book version, but merely numbered in the original.

Astounding October 1939[edit]

  • The prologue (Astounding October 1939 p. 10) describes itself as “not, strictly speaking, a biography,” refers to “one two-hour tape,” and mentions “Tellus… Galactic patrol came into being… folktales and legends of supermen and gods.”
  • Regarding Kinnison’s and Clarissa MacDougal’s two-way, the first edition (p. 34) says, “She could read his mind.” The corresponding passage on page 28 of the magazine omits this.
  • nylon” on page 29 of the magazine is changed to “silk” on page 36 of the book.
  • The footnote on page 42 of the book, claiming that fayalin is non-intoxicating, is an interpolation; it does not appear on page 32 of the original.
  • “the mentor” on page 35 of the original is changed to “Mentor” on page 49 of the book.
  • Earth” on page 45 is changed to “Prime Base” on page 65. (I believe occurrences of “Earth” in the magazine versions are always corrected in the book versions.)
  • The reference to “Wellington’s theory” (of planetary formation) on page 66 of the book does not occur on page 45 of the original.
  • The name of the “crackpot science-fiction writer” “Wacky Willison” on page 46 of the original is changed to “Wacky Williamson” on page 67.
  • “The most intelligent races of this galaxy are oxygen breathers” on page 46 of the original is “most of the intelligent races…” on page 68 of the book. (It is natural to speculate that the magazine version was a change by John W. Campbell, reverted in the book.)
  • Kinnison, addressing Haynes on page 48 of the original, says “you, as port admiral and Chief of Staff”; on page 70, both titles are omitted. (I believe all references to Haynes as chief of staff are changed in the book versions, e.g, January p. 106 vs. p. 232.)
  • Vice-Admiral Gerrond” on page 49 of the original is changed to “Lieutenant-Admiral” Gerrond on page 71.

Astounding November 1939[edit]

  • (About Dessa Desplaines) “s.a. equipment” on page 11 of the original; “s.a.” (presumably an abbreviation for “sex appeal”) is omitted on page 81 of the first edition.
  • (About Dessa Desplaines, since “her fifteenth year”) “five or six years” on page 11 is changed to “intervening time” on page 81.
  • (Kinnison as dock-walloper) “smoking… house-numbers snooping… By the devil and his imps” on pages 16 & 17 is changed to “slime-lizard house-numbers snooping… By Klono and all his cubs” on page 89.
  • “unprintable” on page 17 of the original is expanded to “unprintable here, even in a modern and realistic novel” on page 90 of the book. (One of the few breaches of historical convention in the book versions.)
  • On page 39, Eukonidor mentions “eleven thousand Eich lifetimes”; this is omitted in the book.
  • Page 40 of the original states about the negasphere that the “late Dr. Bergenholm himself would have quailed. Page 131 omits this passage. (This suggests further ret-con editing; Bergenholm was of less importance, and apparently more recent, in the original. The development of the inertialess drive was more gradual and less dramatic than in the ret-con version.)

Astounding December 1939[edit]

  • In the Analytical Laboratory on page 91, Campbell noted that, “Dr. Smith’s Gray Lensman won by a lightyear… amounts to a three-way tie thereafter.”
  • Campbell notes in Brass Tacks on page 104 about the cover [1] that “We got a letter from E.E. Smith saying he and [Hubert] Rogers agreed on how Kinnison looked.”
  • ‘ “Right of way, Norma?” he asked’ on page 124, is changed to ‘ “The Admiral busy, Ruby?” he asked’.
  • (Description of Miner’s Rest) “the unmistakable cubicles in which the basest passions and lusts of man were satisfied” on page 111 of the original is softened to “those unmistakable cubicles” on page 151.
  • (About dureum) “Not as dense as it appears — that’s largely due to field action, too.” on page 141 is omitted from page 196.
  • A long passage on Sir Austin Cardynge’s justification for accompanying the hyper-spatial tube expedition on page 144 of the original is deleted from page 200 of the ret-con version. (Since the justification is inconsistent with Eddorean near-omniscience, it presumably needed to be deleted from the book. But in my opinion, this was the decisive part of Sir Austin’s motivation, which is otherwise insufficient; its removal also diminishes Kinnison’s introspection.)

“to science that data is necessary… It is so evident that the persons or beings who are operating it do not know, or are at least not utilizing, one percent of its potentities. They stumbled upon it — blundered into it — someone with at least a rudimentary knowledge of science must analyze its possibilities, so that the Conference may exhaust its real possibilities.”

Astounding January 1940[edit]

  • Original, page 105: “each ship emblazoned with the device of ray-emitting intertwined spirals which is the emblem of the Galactic Patrol”; omitted from page 230 of the first edition.
  • Kinnison’s defeat of the Delgonian is completely different in the two versions (pages 116-7 versus 249-50); the original involved physical, not mental, force. (In my opinion, this is the only revision in the first three books which is a significant improvement. See also Sanders’ commentary on a revision in Second Stage Lensman.)
  • The original version on page 123 of the Surgeon-Marshall Lacy’s warning to Nurse MacDougall is longer: “he's a ghastly mess. Altogether too much so for any woman, to say nothing of one who loves him.” The word “ghastly” and the entire second sentence are omitted on page 259 of the book.
  • Nurse MacDougall’s explanation to “your historian” on page 262 of the book is an interpolation.
  • “And I know!... full-view understanding I got then.” on pages 132-3 is omitted from page 274 of the book.
  • (About the Ballad of Boh Da Thone) “so I went to the library and looked it up” on page 134 is changed to “…I checked with Archeology” on page 276 of the first edition.

FlashSheridan (talk) 19:49, 2 February 2008 (PST)

Differences between the two versions of Second Stage Lensmen[edit]

General Observations[edit]

  • As before, the chapters are named in the book version, but merely numbered in the original.
  • Second Stage Lensmen seems to have many more minor stylistic improvements in the book version than the preceding novels. This is the only justification I have seen so far for Sanders’ claim (p. 61) that “he never regarded a piece of fiction as quite finished. This can be seen by the way he went through his novels before letting them be republished.” I noticed few instances of such editing in the earlier novels. (It’s possible that I missed some; I’m doing this from memory, not a side-by-side reading.) It’s blatantly untrue of Triplanetary, where Dr. Smith did the minimum (or less) revising necessary to ret-con it into the Lensman series and his later feelings about war: generally simple interpolations, with the occasional deletion, usually sacrificing artistic value to strained pseudo-consistency.
    • There are, on the other hand, numerous corrections (e.g. of capitalization) at the copy-editing level which I haven’t tracked; I speculate that these were mostly mistakes made in setting the type for the magazine, with the correct text copied over from Smith’s own manuscripts to the book versions.
    • The biggest stylistic revision is the one Sanders notes on pp. 62–5, but Sanders fails to note the second most important part about the change, that it’s in text which spans the two installments. This leads me to two bits of speculation: (1) That Dr Smith initially considered revising this passage to eliminate redundancy caused by the split into installments, but ended up making the ideological revisions as discussed by Sanders, and (2) that this is the only major revision which Sanders found to back up his claim, and that he didn’t in fact read the original version of the whole series. Otherwise, I would find it difficult to explain how even as sloppy a scholar as Sanders could have missed the heavy-handed ret-conning.
    • But Sanders’ point about style is defensible for Second Stage Lensmen; if anyone is considering republishing the series (which a conversation with Marty Massoglia at BayCon suggests is unlikely), I’d recommend publishing the original versions of the first novels (except for the minor copy-editing issues), but some consideration should be given to some of the revisions (though not interpolations) to Second Stage Lensmen.
  • I’ve also included, in parentheses, some non-differences relevant to the chronology of the narrator/historian.

Astounding November 1941[edit]

  • In the Analytical Lab on page 58, Campbell notes, “Invariably, the back number department here at Street and Smith runs out of the copies containing Smith’s yarns long before the demand runs out. And we always lay down an extra-large supply of those issues too!”
  • P. 10/8, synopsis: “The Boskonian conflict was just beginning …” The synopsis on page 8 of the book is totally different.
  • 11/10, synopsis: “thought-screens... the Arisians had given them to Velantia, hence knew how to break them down”. Page 10 of the book just mentions Ploor.
  • The illustration on p. 35 is a black and white version of the cover for November 1939.
  • 38/54: “No mentality in existence, not even that of Mentor the Arisian, could lie to Gray Lensman Kinnison against his will.” Omitted from p. 54 of the book. (Note that this and other revisions to make the Arisians nearly omnipotent makes Kinnison’s belief that he had defeated an Arisian implausible in the ret-con version.)
  • 53/80: After “I wanted her to take me back to Lonabar, but she wouldn’t.” the two versions diverge heavily. The original starts with “She learned about Tellus and the Patrol from our minds... and wanted to study them.” On p. 80 of the book, this is instead followed by the contradictory “She couldn’t have, anyway, because she didn’t know any more about it where it is than I did.” The following discussion on the topic of “You don’t know where your own home planet is?” is an interpolation.
  • 53/81: “gray nylon” is changed to red on p. 81.

Astounding December 1941[edit]

  • 55 Campbell, in In Times to Come, notes “I’ll repeat that experience shows that issues carrying Doc Smith stories can’t be obtained later if you miss them now.”
  • (Not a difference: P. 12, corresponding to page 91, on tractor shear data not being available, sets the narrator's date as fairly soon after the events reported. Cp. personal comments about Lenswoman MacDougal and honor of being first non-Lensman to read some records.)
  • 17/98: “under orders to kill themselves” is changed to “compulsion” on p. 98.
  • 19/102: discussion of pseudo-inertia omitted from p. 102.
  • 20/103: “changed his mind and Lensed a thought” on p. 103 of the book is interpolated.
  • 20/103: “I was in a wide-open ten-way once” is changed to “I’ve been in such things up to a hundred or so” on p. 103.
  • 21/104: "However, I haven't been making any passes" on p. 104 of the book is an interpolation.
  • 26/106 (Not a difference: "The Lensman's long life" suggests that the narrator's date is long after the events portrayed.)
  • 22/107–8: “You’re Second Stage, aren’t you?… I had known only of Worsel… and Tregonsee.” is an interpolation.
  • 26/115 (Not a difference: Lensman MacDougall wore her Lens on “her left wrist”; on the cover (approved by Dr Smith) of the first installment of ‘‘Gray Lensman,’’ Kinnison wears his Lens on his right wrist.)
  • 23/117 “Then Kinnison, one of the few then existent second stage Lensman” is changed to “Then Kimball Kinnison, Second Stage Lensman”. “As is now well known” is omitted.
  • 30/120 “Nadreck, the Unattached Lensman” is changed to “Second Stage”.
  • 46/148 “Please get hold of Nadreck of Palain VII for me? I don’t know his pattern well enough to Lens him from here.” changed to “I think I know his pattern well enough” on p. 148. “frigid-blooded, poison-breathing second-stage Gray Lensman” (unchanged) is the first mention in the original of Nadreck’s being Second Stage.
  • 47/148 Lenswoman MacDougall’s mention of “my visualization of the Cosmic All” on page 148 is of course an interpolation. The attribution to Haynes of “the Eich are to Boskonia exactly what we are to Civilization” is changed to “this from the nurse” on page 148.
  • 49/151 “Indeed, it is held that sexual equality is the most important criterion of that which we know as Civilization.” is changed to “has been argued” on p. 151.
  • 54/159 (v. Sanders p. 63) "you're all thinking ... Overlords!" is omitted from p. 159.
  • 54/160 See Sanders pp. 62–5 for a general discussion of these differences. One minor point: “thank all the gods of space” is changed to “God”.

Astounding January 1942[edit]

  • 98 “it's” misspelled in Synopsis
  • 98/161 “barring the contingency...”/ not in book p. 161; see Sanders.
  • 99/162 “racial vice” (about torture and the Overlords) is omitted from p. 162.
  • 100/164 “you, too, Captain Craig, please” is omitted from p. 164.
  • 101/168 The spelling “Earthgirl’s” is changed to “Earth-girl’s”.
  • 101/168 “...took out her ubiquitous hypodermic and made sure that her patient would rest...” omitted from p. 168.
  • "Captain Craig erupted …orders" / "captain's talker issued"
  • 103 The illustration on p. 103 seems to be wrong; in it Helen (presumably) wears clothes and a hat.
  • (Not a difference: 104/176 "your historian is supremely proud that he was the first perosn other than a Lensman" earlier "after the emergency had passed")
  • 104/176 “Mac” (in the Historian’s voice) is changed to “Clarissa”. (Note that the torture here, in both versions, seems to be unnecessary; cp. the mental duel in Gray Lensman on Jarnevon.)
  • (107 historian re Lonabar: "many volumes have already been written" ... "before the 2nd galaxy was made secure")
  • 108/185 “I’d a lot rather be a live coward than a dead hero!” edited to “Right now cowardice is indicated — copiously”
  • 110/190 Haynes to K: “Don’t be dumb”; removed in book.
  • 118/206 The two paragraphs on Mentor’s dealing with “every picture ... of Traska Gannel” are an interpolation.
  • 129/229 “the outrages to the sensibilities incident to inertialessness in its crudest forms.” altered to “the physical and mental ills accompanying inertialessness.” (Cp. Galactic Patrol September 1937 p. 42 October 1937, p. 62 (book p. 51) and other ret-con difficulties with the inertialess drive.) [The page citation is an error per Paul Magnussen which I’ll try to correct soon. —FlashSheridan (talk) 21:49, 3 February 2016 (UTC), corrected FlashSheridan (talk) 00:05, 6 March 2016 (UTC)]
  • 130/231 “normal pseudo-inertia” changed to “normal pseudo-gravity” (Likewise?)

Astounding February 1942[edit]

  • P. 35 Analytical Laboratory: “Second-Stage Lensmen was a nearly unanimous choice for first place in the December issue.”
  • (John Campbell in a editor's note on page 35, about the war and its impact on his authors, has a little inside joke about Heinlein: “Robert Heinlein is Lieutenant Robert Heinlein, U.S.N., … Anson MacDonald is in Navy service equally.”)
  • 97/238 Mentor: “If my mind had been really competent, I would have foreseen this event in detail. Even though I did not so foresee it,…” / deleted in book.
  • 97/238 Mentor: “since your brain is of very limited capacity” / “not of infinite capacity”
  • 97/238: (Not a change, but perhaps of interest to us mathematicians.) Kinnison: “No wonder these mathematical wizards were nuts — went off the beam — he’d be pure squirrel food if he had half that stuff in his skull!”
  • 103/250 "Just when did you leave the Circle?" / "Eddore?". (Eddore is of course not mentioned in the original version.)
  • 103/251 “and the experts of the Patrol would make no such crass errors as those.” / “while the experts of the Patrol were not infallible, Mentor of Arisia was.”
  • 104/251 “... another Eddorian? the Arisian who had been hampering him?” Not in original.
  • 105/257 Fossten: “because I have only recently taken over.” / Removed.
  • 110/267 “the prime minister...drove a thought towards Eddore and the All-Highest.


“Star A Star and the Arisian, then, were not two but one!” / Not in original.

  • 269/110 “He never did suspect that he was not alone.” / Not in original.
  • 113/276 “coffee-like beverage affected by the Thrallians” / “Thrallian coffee”
  • 113 /276 Mentor: “my mind is far from capable” / “not entirely capable”
  • 113/277 “visualization of the Cosmic All which I hold at the moment” / unchanged, but note that this is the first mention in the original.
  • 113/277 “no permanent pattern had as yet been formed” / Removed.
  • 113/278 Mentor to and about Kinnison: “that no mind in the macrocosmic universe can break” / “whose capabilities you do not and cannot appreciate”
  • 113/278 “what was mortal of Fossten the prime minster became a smoking, shapeless heap.”/ “whatever it was that lay there”
  • 114/279 Haynes “was turning away from the plate” / “Just before he decided to Lens Kinnison anyway”
  • 115/282 Gannel: “My Great Plan” / not “Great”
  • 116/283 “hundreds of generations of Thrallian torturers” / “all the”
  • 122/294 (Nadreck is mentioned in the present tense.)
  • 123 /298 “No need of language, either, although upon this page their thoughts must be put into words. They did however, have need — a profound need — of physical contact.” / Deleted, and context rearranged.
  • 124/300 Second mention of “Visualization of the Cosmic All”.
  • 127/304 Kinnison to Breenler of Thrale: “This business of yours is worth fifty thousand credits more right now than it was before she cut loose here, and that it’ll be worth twice that much” / Removed.
  • 128/306 “no levity is possible within a radius of miles”/ Removed.
  • 129/307 "shouted to Haynes" / "Lensed a thought"

FlashSheridan (talk) 05:52, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Differences between the two versions of Vortex Blaster[edit]

General Observations[edit]

  • References to the original version, published in Comet Stories, July 1941, use Kindle sequence numbers from the Amazon Digital Services version ASIN: B001RNOK6O of the Project Gutenberg scan by Greg Weeks and V. L. Simpson. References to the book version use the Gnome Press page numbers, which I believe should match those used by Ellik & Evans. Remember that the short story served only as the beginning of the book of the same title.
  • I’ve only noted noteworthy differences; Dr Smith made many more stylistic changes than usual. In general, they do follow the generalization that Dr Smith’s revisions for a book version leave the sequence intact, improve the style, but mar the content. The most striking change is the removal of the motivational core of the story, Dr Cloud’s belief that he would meet his wife in the afterlife, and a consequent deemphasis of his longing for death. That in turn was the technical core of the original, as it was the reason Dr Cloud couldn’t have blasted vortices before (140/14). (No explanation is given in either version for why the Conference of Scientists [and, in the original, Sir Austin Cardynge and Kimball Kinnison] had not investigated the possibility.)


  • Kindle location 2 / Gnome page 1 (First word of second paragraph): The “unsinkable” ships / ‘the’ removed
  • 8/1 “as it must of necessity be” / removed, other changes
  • 8/1 “bigness of a strong man’s arm” / “size of a big man’s forefinger”
  • 8/1 “atomic physicist” / “Doctor of Nucleonics
  • 14/9 “lovely wife and their three wonderful kids” / “wife and children” [The number of children is mentioned later in both versions, 87/12.]
  • 37/10 sentences reversed
  • 37/11 “and Jo had been married for almost twenty years” / “more than fifteen”
  • 62/11 “and the world has too much use for you” / deleted
  • 62/11 “I don't think so. No, I won't--that never was any kind of a solution to any problem. Nor was it. Until that moment, suicide had not entered Cloud's mind, and he rejected it instantly. His kind of man did not take the easy way out.” / “'I don't think so. No.' Suicide, tempting although it might be, was not the answer.”
  • 62/11 “au revoir”: interpolation
  • 70/12 ‘“gave her the oof,”’ / ‘“shoveled on the coal”’
  • 106 “Klono's brazen bowels” / removed [Cp. Children of the Lens' first installment 38/42.]
  • 127/14 “Why, even Kinnison and Cardynge and the Conference of Scientists couldn't solve it” / “Kinnison and Cardynge” removed, but the mention of “not excepting even Kimball Kinnison” at 425 is retained.
  • 140/14 “calculating machine”/ “GOMEAC,” other changes
  • 140/14 ‘"Fear," Cloud replied, crisply. "At the thought of a hand-to-hand battle with a vortex my brain froze solid. Fear--the sheer, stark, natural human fear of death, that robs a man of the fine edge of control and brings on the very death that he is trying so hard to avoid. That's what had me stopped."’ / deleted
  • 140/14 ‘The quicker it does, the better--the sooner I'll be with Jo." "You believe that?" "Implicitly." "The vortices are as good as gone, then. They haven't got any more chance than Boskone has of licking the Patrol."’ / ‘Lensmen did not ordinarily use their Lenses on their Lensless friends, but this was no ordinary occasion. 'You aren't afraid of death any more. But you won't invite it? And do you mind if I Lens you on that? "Come in. I'll not invite it, but that's as far as I'll go in promising. I won't make any superhuman effort to avoid it. I'll take all due precautions, for the sake of the job, but if one gets me, what the hell?"
  • 344/21 “he again kicked on his eight G's of drive” / “five”
  • 355/21 “Neutralization of inertia took time!”: Interpolation; similar changes elsewhere
  • 384 “Bergenholm switch. He snapped it, and in the instant of its closing a vast, calm peace descended,” / deleted
  • 408 [“"Oh, yes, Phil--definitely yes," Lacy replied, briskly. "He has a good skeleton, very good indeed.” / same in both, but cp. Galactic Patrol page 121 January 1938.]
  • 432/24 ‘I'll keep on pecking away until one of those vortices finishes what this one started.’ / ‘I'll keep on pecking away as long as I last.’
  • 439/24 “We know exactly how long it takes to go from fully inert to fully free.”: interpolation
  • After 448 (end)/25 (end of chapter 2) ‘And that night Lensman Philip Strong, instead of sleeping, thought and thought and thought.… And next morning, early, he Lensed a thought. 'Kinnison?’: not in original

FlashSheridan (talk) 16:55, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Differences between the two versions of “Storm Cloud on Deka”[edit]

Page numbers refer to the original version in Astonishing Stories June 1942 and the revised and expanded Gnome Press book. It’s worth bearing in mind that, so far as most readers were concerned, this was the sole continuation of the Lensman series, in a post-Boskonian First Galaxy; it’s a minor law enforcement story rather than a war story or scientific romance. Setting a crime story in a galaxy with second stage Lensmen is obviously difficult, if not impossible, and I’m not convinced that Dr. Smith managed it. The criminals worry about three of the four second stage Lensman by name (deleted in the book version), and are very careful of detection by minor statistical anomalies, but not the most important one. The absence of Lensmen is crucial to the action, but would have ended as soon as the falseness of the Patrol vehicle (and officer) were noted; Dr Smith himself begins the series with the importance of detecting imposture in law enforcement.

  • Astonishing page 42 / Gnome page 26: Proximity to Prime Base deleted in book.
  • 42/26 Initial demonstration of technique removed/moved to book page 44.
  • 45/29 Fairchild: “some of those damned Lensmen have brains. Suppose they put Worsel of Velantia, Tregonsee of Rigel IV, or even Kinnison himself onto this job” / “a couple of Lensmen”
  • 46/30 “For a year or so after graduation..., never averse to feminine society, he began to go in for girls in a large and serious way. …Jacqueline Comstock, who was all unconsciously—or was it?—working much more towards her Mrs. degree than for the good of the firm.” Deleted in book.
  • 50/35 “robbed death itself of sting” (referring to the couple, not Cloud) Deleted in book.
  • 50/36 Synopsis/beginning of chapter 4: “no longer had the slightest interest in living. Unwilling to kill himself...” Deleted in book.
  • 55/42 “even if they are as big a zwilnik outfit as Wembleson's was, on Bronseca” Deleted in book.
  • 58/47 “Councillor Ellington, the old Unattached Lensman who was in charge of all Narcotics work” / “old” deleted in book.

• 58/47 “Graves and Fairchild... Both dead”: Interpolation.

  • 60/48 last section of chapter IV: “developing another like him”: Interpolation.
Doughnut Specialist Smith Blasts Vortices in His Spare Time[edit]

The editor (or Sam Moskowitz?) of Astonishing has an article on Dr Smith beginning on page 6. The biography mostly seems to agree with the usual sources, with some exceptions (which I should note in the E.E. Smith biography):

  • It says Dr Smith got an “M.S. degree at Harvard and Johns Hopkins.”
  • (On Skylark of Space) “It wasn't until 1919 that work really began ... Five years passed before acceptance by the first science-fiction magazine on the American market, and two more years elapsed before it was published.”
  • “We were a little dubious about the Gray Lensman references in the present story, inasmuch as the series in question had appeared in another publication…”

Astonishing Stories seemed to be doing an impressive job, which might explain John Campbell’s wrath at Dr Smith. This issue carried stories by Leigh Brackett, Alfred Bester, and Henry Kuttner. Kuttner’s story, “The Crystal Circe,” contains the following prescient phrase on page 80, “Long ago—very long ago, and in another galaxy, light-years away.”

Differences between the two versions of “The Vortex Blaster Makes War”[edit]

Astonishing October 1942

  • Editorial p. 6 “Science Fiction and the War”: “E.E. Smith, Ph.D. is in charge of chemical research at a large war plant.”
  • Letters pp. 106–112, commenting on “Storm Cloud on Deka”:
    • Victor King: “very good... acceptable.”
    • Victor Mayper, Jr.: “Greatly disappointed ... 9.8 out of 10.” (long response from Mr. Isaac Asimov.). “more Smith would certainly be welcome.”
    • Sheldon Araas. (for 2nd) tie: “would have rated higher if Smith had described the rescue of Storm, and the boy and girl by the G.P. more clearly.” Sylvester Brown, Jr.
  • Synopsis p. 40:
    • “it was a mathematical certainty that that very love of life would so impede his perceptions that he would die in the attempt. ... Partly in revenge, partly in the cold hope that he would fail and die”
    • “He had now extinguished hundreds of the things... a drab routine”
    • “But he had not recovered and never would recover a normal outlook upon life. Something within him had died with his Jo... it no longer made it impossible for him to work with other men...”
  • Page 40 in Astonishing, page 49 in book:
    • “he was driving a light cruiser converted to one-man control” / “a scout-class ship which had been converted to one-man and automatic operation”
    • “fade... recover” / [A completely contradictory interpolation in the book. Other significant changes which I won’t note. This story has perhaps the greatest changes, but most aren’t of general interest.]
  • P. 42/51 “neither had even partial inertialessness” / “any degree of”
  • P. 43/52 “Terrestrial” / “of Tellus”
  • P. 55/70 “and the Vortex Blaster, after taking leave of his other new friends, resumed his interrupted voyage—having added another solar system to the fellowship of Galactic Civilization!” [end] / “‘... the people I picked up must be off my ship by this time. Clear ether.’” [end of chapter VII. Five of them hadn't left, in ch VIII. The ending doesn’t seem to have been planned for a sequel, though some of the character development earlier ended up being used that way in the book.]

Differences between the two versions of Children of the Lens[edit]

General Observations[edit]

  • Contrary to everything I’ve read (and written) on the subject, Dr Smith’s retconning began with the original version of Children of the Lens, not between the magazine and book versions of the series. There are also minor differences between the magazine version of Children of the Lens and the book version; but so far the facts in the magazine version are a subset of those in the book, and could be differences of emphasis in Christopher Kinnison’s narration. The retconning begins right away, in the beginning of the Message of Transmittal, with a bravura bit of story-telling which might have made a sufficiently careful reader of the magazine version’s head explode. Even the header must have been quite a surprise; bear in mind that nothing of what we now think of as the framework of the series was known to readers of the original opening of Children of the Lens, and that Triplanetary was quite deliberately distinct from the Lensman universe.
    • Rodebush and Cleveland from Triplanetary are mentioned first, in the Message of Transmittal. The context is their “crude inertialess drive”; this is ambiguous between the semi-inert drive of the pre-history to the original Galactic Patrol and their non-partial inertialess drive in the original Triplanetary. It is noted as having been perfected by Bergenholm; no credit is given to the Nevians, who are not mentioned. Bergenholm is an Arisian-activated form of human flesh in the book version; this is not mentioned until the third installment of the original.
    • Virgil Samms is then mentioned, as chief of the Secret Service of the Triplanetary League in the magazine version, as opposed to chief of the Triplanetary Service in the book.
    • Gharlane is not mentioned in the first installment at least; all references are to Fossten, and Gray Roger is not referred to.
  • As before, the chapters are named in the book version, but merely numbered in the original.

Astounding November 1947[edit]

Message of Transmittal[edit]
  • 11/47 p. 8 / book p. 1: “perhaps ten million, perhaps ten million million Galactic Standard years,” omitted in book. (“visualization of the Cosmic All,” however, is in both versions.)
  • 8/1: [“Bergenholm so perfected the crude inertialess space-drive of Rodebush and Cleveland”: Same in both versions, but note that this is a major inconsistency with the original versions of Galactic Patrol and Triplanetary.]
  • 8/2 “Virgil Samms, then chief of the Secret Service of the Triplanetary League” | “Virgil Samms, then chief of the Triplanetary Service.”
  • 8/2 “Through one Dr. Nels Bergenholm, an Arisian-activated form of human flesh”: interpolation, not present in original.
  • 10/5 “made of Clarissa MacDougall a Second-Stage Lensman” / “made Clarissa MacDougall an unattached Lensman”
  • 11/6 “an Eddorian” / “Gharlane of Eddore” [n.b. Gharlane does not appear in the original version, and the reader does not yet know anything of Eddore.]
  • 12/6 “Kimball Kinnison, while not, strictly speaking, a mutant” / “while in no sense a mutant”
  • 12/7 ‘Much has been told elsewhere, notably in Smith’s “History of Civilization”; but all such works are, and of necessity must be, pitifully incomplete.’ Not in book version. (Note that this “History of Civilization” cannot be the work of the same name by E.E. Smith in our universe, since the retconned Triplanetary covers matters which would cause an inferiority complex in any mind below the third level. The historian’s work in the first three volumes anyway seems to be purely a history of the last years of the Boskonian War.)
  • 12/7 “Christopher Kinnison” / “Christopher K. Kinnison
Chapter 1[edit]
  • 14/12 “startlingly identical” (girls), not in book version.
  • 32/ 35 [“Fossten the renegade Arisian” same in both.]
  • 34/37 “merrily and at a cento a word,” not in book version.
  • 38/42 Kinnison: “Holy Klono’s brazen bowels!” / “gadolinium guts” [Cp. Vortex Blaster.]
  • 38/42 [“Civilization would have been basically Palainian,” same in both.]
  • 40/46 “Galactic Counselor Edmundson” / “Tellurian tycoon” (victim of Kandron atrocities.)
  • 48/49 “Calling in assistance, he searched the president's past even more rigidly than Fossten had searched that of Traska Gannel.… even to widely distributed boyhood pictures” / deleted [This perhaps suggests a serious difference in Dr Smith’s thinking between the two versions, though I don’t yet know what to make of it.]

FlashSheridan (talk) 21:51, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Astounding December 1947[edit]

General Remarks[edit]
  • Mentor’s historical explanation to Kathryn Kinnison on page 113 of the original is radically different from the ret-conned version on page 87 of the book. In my opinion it renders the original series dramatically superior to the ret-conned version:
“Yes and no. A partial explanation, while long, may be in order. Many cycles of time ago it became apparent to our more advanced thinkers that the rise and fall of Civilizations was too rhythmic to be accidental. They studied this rhythm, but life was too short. They set out then, deliberately to prolong their lives. Fewer and fewer in number, they lived longer and longer; and the longer each lived, the more he learned. Their visualizations of the Cosmic All became less tenuous, more complete. It became evident that there was some inimical force at work; a force implacably opposed to that which we know as Civilization. Like a mouse in the power of a torturing cat, any Civilization could go just so far, but no farther. For instance, that of Atlantis, upon your father's native planet, Tellus. I was personally concerned in that, and could not stop its fall.” The Arisian was showing emotion now : his thought was bleak and bitter.
“Four of us were assigned to the problem of this opposing force. We learned that its final abatement would necessitate the development of a race superior to ours in every respect. We, therefore, selected blood lines in each of the four strongest races of the galaxy and began to eliminate as many as possible of their weaknesses and to concentrate all of their strengths....”
• Ret-conned version, page 87:
“... Our Arisian visualizations foretold the rise and fall of galactic civilizations long before any such civilizations came into being. That of Atlantis, for instance. I was personally concerned in that, and could not stop its fall.” The Arisian was showing emotion now; his thought was bleak and bitter.
“Not that I expected to stop it... the final abatement of the opposing force would necessitate the development of a race superior to ours in every respect.
“Blood lines were selected in each of the four strongest races of this that you know as the First Galaxy...”
  • Note that this turns the whole series on its head dramatically, relative to what modern readers encounter. The Arisians, rather than being pre-ordained victors with the home-turf advantage over the Eddorians, are underdogs—a subject race to the Eddorians, who only gradually work out a strategy to overthrow them. The breeding program for the four races actually makes sense: it’s a selection from existing species, and the Arisians don’t (because they’re not omniscient) necessarily know which race will succeed them.

  • 100: “The plan of the Arisians was a long slow plan... Working toward the necessary final test—”
  • 101: Unlike earlier ones, this synopsis was written by one of the weaker thinkers at Street and Smith, who had read the earlier works with some attention but insufficient understanding. His prose style is also jarringly bad, and his order of exposition is incorrect and poorly thought out. I seem to detect a hint of resentment against Dr Smith in some of the phrasing (e.g., Mentor’s “inexplicable” interest in Kimball Kinnison, and “Fossten was actually an Arisian-like creature. Mentor made Kinnison believe that Fossten was an Arisian who had gone mad in his youth”)—perhaps, I speculate, because the blurb writer had been fooled by Dr Smith’s concealment of the Eddorians at the end of Second Stage Lensmen. (Speculating even more, perhaps this resentment was because he was one of those complained about in “The Epic of Space”: “I have had, time and again, to go over the whole episode word by word to convince certain critics…” [p. 85.].)

I won’t reproduce the whole wretched thing, but I’ll note that “superhypnotic” is not a term used by Dr Smith, and the candidate Lensmen were hardly just “boys of Earth.” He also seems to have badly misremembered the expedition to Jarnevon. The synopsis includes a spoiler for the installment, “a line bred by the Arisians,” but neglects one of the key points actually needing a recapitulation for this installment, that Sybly White was an identity assumed in the previous installment by Kimball Kinnison.

Chapter VIII ff.[edit]
  • 108/74 “but coincidences [editing error for ‘such coincidences’?] simply did not happen / not in book version
  • 106/77 “D-armor” / “G-P” [allusion to “atomic vortex” in both]
  • 108/74 “pseudospace of” / omitted
  • 107/79 “She did not know everything there was to be known” / “quite everything”.
  • 109/ 81 “photographed” (metaphorically ) / “scanned”
  • 113/87 Mentor to Kathryn Kinnison: see above.
  • 115/89 [Kathryn's training] “went on for weeks” / omitted (similarly Kit’s 135/117)
  • 115/90 [Mentor re Ploor] “all I can say is that if my visualization in that respect is sound, and I am practically sure that it is,” / omitted
  • 135/117 [To Mentor] “your Council decided that the human stock was best” / “you Arisians”
  • 135/117 [“While we each worked as individuals upon all of the experimental lines”: Same in both, but "experimental" is inconsistent with ret-con omniscience.]
  • 137/120 “everything the Arisians had done for umpteen million years had been aimed at the Eddorians” / “skillions of years”
  • 151/140 [of Kimball Kinnison] “he ran the tape once—Second Stage Lensmen do not forget any detail of anything they have ever learned” / omitted 

FlashSheridan (talk) 05:58, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Astounding January 1948[edit]

  • There’s no Brass Tacks in this issue.
  • In the Analytical Laboratory, which covered an issue before the start of Children of the Lens, L. Rob Hubbard, with one of his pseudonyms, is in first and second place.
  • Page 113 in the original/152 in the book: “his office is on Kalonia III, not an hour’s flit from here” / “his office is on Three, just a short flit from here”
  • 113/152 “going out in an atomic blast... seven hundred million other people” / details omitted
  • 116/156 (Karen speaking) “Fossten was, of course, an Eddorian” / “Gharlane
    • (But “when he was Gray Roger, so long ago” is the same in both versions.)
    • (Mentor) “We wrought briefly as men, and died as men.” / “We lived and wrought as men and seemed to die as men.”
    • “One of us was, however, Dr Bergenholm” / “Nels Bergenholm
    • “Know, then, daughter that the planet Eddore is screened as heavily as is our own Arisia ; by screens which can be extended at will to any desired point in space. ... It could not. Eddore’s screens were being attacked at every point by every force … by the massed intellect of Arisia ; they were compressed almost to the planet’s surface. If the Eddorians had weakened those screens sufficiently to have sent through them a helping thought, every one of them would in that instant have perished.” / omitted
  • 117/157 “From that form, which your father never did perceive, he passed into the next plane of existence” / “Gharlane of Eddore”
  • 131/178 “TUUV. Quite a bit like the Nevians” / same in both, but note that this is the first mention of Nevia in the body of the original version.
  • 154/208 “Also, it was easier to rejuvenate their own world, or to move it to a younger sun, than to enforce and to supervise the myriads of man-hours of slave labor necessary to rebuild any planet to their needs.” / deleted, also lesser stylistic changes
  • 155/209 “One race, the denizens of a planet of a variable sun, approached that idea[l] closely.”/ omitted
    • “Clarissa understood it better, but less accurately ; for in the version the Red Lensman received, one minor change was made—in it the Ploorans and the Eddorians were the same race! She understood, however, that that actually unnamed and to her unknown race was the highest of Boskone, and the place of the Kalonians in the Boskonian scheme was plain enough.” / mostly omitted
  • 157/213 “without eve the foggiest idea of what its’ [sic] actual physical setup is?” / “of what it is?”

Astounding February 1948[edit]

The first installment placed a strong first in the Analytical Library, and there are two letters in Brass Tacks eagerly anticipating Dr Smith’s return. (There’s also a story by John D. MacDonald.) There are few significant changes in this installment; the ret-con rethink does not seem to have affected the ending, which was supposedly thought through quite thoroughly in the very early stages of composition. Note that in the original, no Eddorian is ever named, and only the All-Highest is given a title. Even the Eddorian who decides to exile rather than kill Kinnison is not identified.

  • 106/220 “this was the second time that the massed might of Arisia had been thrown against Eddore’s defenses” / “not the first”
  • 106/222 Eukonidor, to Kit: “your mind cannot now be coerced by any force now existing” / “at my command”
  • 111/227 Eddorians: “since it is unthinkable that the enemies’ minds are in any real sense as strong as ours” / omitted
  • 111/228 “that obscured the truth for years — that gave them all this additional time” / omitted
  • [118/232 “Q P arms and legs — Dhilian, eh?”: Same in both, but another interestingly unnecessary allusion to the Vortex Blaster stories, which I suspect Campbell may have missed.]
  • 142/269 [after “no redheads”] “I’ll play along with you part way on that oldie—up to the point of falling for either of them.” / omitted. [Stylistically much stronger without the omitted text, but the style is enough like Dr Smith’s that it may not be an editorial addition. I speculate that an Astounding subeditor (perhaps the weak intellect who wrote the first synopsis) required that something be added for clarity, or possibly prudery.]
  • 143/272 “Mentor never talked to anybody except Kinnison before, did he?” / “except the L2’s”
  • 143/272 “Damfino” not in original. [Perhaps removed from the Astounding version by Kay Tarrant?]
  • 145/275 [Mentor, about the mental attack on Eddore, after “it will not be of long duration”] “One hour will suffice.” / omitted
  • Last words: “Kit Kinnison” / “Christopher K. Kinnison”

Respectfully submitted,

FlashSheridan (talk) 03:31, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Lacy — difference missing from the list?[edit]

My Astoundings with the original of Galactic Patrol are in storage, and it’s 20 years since I’ve seen them; but surely Surgeon-Marshal Lacy (in the book) is Surgeon-General in the original? Paul Magnussen (talk) 21:56, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Allotropic Iron[edit]

Didn't they switch to uranium by the time of First Lensman? I think they may have mentioned it in relation to Bergenholm's improvements to the Rodebush/Cleveland Drive. --Pariah Press 02:23, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

To the best of my memory (which should be about 98% accurate), allotrophic iron is never mentioned after the invention of the Bergenholm and its use of uranium instead of iron. Whether the uranium is converted to an allotrophic form is never mentioned, nor whether the uranium is used primarily for power or as part of the field generation (the latter is very vaguely implied by the comment about "freehand curves" drawn by Bergenholm). There is no discussion at all about technical details of atomic power plant production in the later series -- even in the Vortex Blaster novels, where it might have been relevant. I'll try to come by and clean up that discussion, but I've already spent too much time with Wiki tonight; it's been my break from a work deadline. :) -Doc W 04:57, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Vortex Blaster: Cannon or not?[edit]

So what exactly are the arguments—pro and con—for Vortex Blaster being cannon ? As best I can tell, the arguments against Vortex Blaster being cannon are:

  1. The book was published in Comet and not Astounding.
  2. Kimball Kinnison is not the main character.
  3. It does not follow the Kinnison continuity(more of a corollary argument).

The arguments for Vortex Blaster being cannon are:

  1. It is written by Doc Smith.
  2. It takes place in the Lensman Universe.
  3. There is a Lensman (Strong) overseeing Neal Cloud.
  4. Kimball Kinnison is mentioned in passing.
  5. Old Earth Books refers to it as an “Associated Lensman Novel.”

I think this discussion need to be put in the context of two other works. The first is C. S. Lewis ’s book The Horse and His Boy. If we apply the last two arguments used against Vortex Blaster, they also apply to The Horse And His Boy as also not being Narnia canon. The story does not follow the main storyline, and Peter and company are only mentioned briefly in passing.

The other works are The Hobbit and The Silmarillion . In both those books, Frodo is not the main character, and they do not follow the main continuity per se. Of course they are all linked by the One Ring, but the bulk of The Silmarillion occurs before Sauron creates the One Ring, and the ring is not the MacGuffin in The Hobbit as it is in The Lord of the Rings. The only continuous characters in all of the books is Gandalf and Sauruman.

I realize this is all like the recent discussion about Pluto , but if we can establish Vortex Blaster as cannon, then we can make the case for it being reprinted. We have the Big Six, and Kyle’s trilogy, but not Doc’s missing masterpiece. --Infracaninophile 01:54, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

"A cannon is any large tubular firearm designed to fire a heavy projectile over a considerable distance. " I think the word you're looking for is "canon." The work is clearly canon in that it is official, and fits into the universe. However, it is not part of the Lensman series proper, as it does not fit into the plot in any way. It merely shares the same setting. --Pariah Press 01:24, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the desired meaning is in the article "Canon (fiction)". There are several stories which officially are part of the Lensman universe. Vortex Blaster was created in that universe by Smith. (SEWilco 03:35, 20 September 2006 (UTC))
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"This is loose and muddy thinking, youth!" As has already been intimated, it's spelt "canon" not "cannon". The magazine the "Vortex Blaster" stories were published in have nothing to do with the case. The question is: Did the Historian of Civilization (Smith) intend the reader to think the "Vortex Blaster" stories were set in the Lensman universe? The answer is clearly "yes". Therefore, clearly they're part of the Lensman canon. Please adjust your visualization of the Cosmic All accordingly. --Lensman003 01:08, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I think there is a related distinction worth making, between the four core Lensman novels, which were plotted as a whole, and everything else. The original version of Triplanetary, for instance, does not, in my opinion, fit well with the core novels. The Commandant's account of the Patrol's early history at the beginning of the magazine version of Galactic Patrol does not describe what happened in the magazine version of Triplanetary; the reference to Virgil Samms and the Triplanetary Patrol is a later interpolation.[1] The reference to the Third Galactic Survey on page 34 of the same issue, "the Third Galactic Survey. That was in the days of the semi-inert drive, when it took years to cross the galaxy," is not consistent with Triplanetary, in which the era of partial inertialessness lasted only from Amazing March 1934 p. 33, until April 1934 p. 52. The corresponding passage in the first book edition, on page 42, omits mention of the semi-inert drive, merely stating "that was a hell of a long time ago."
(Interestingly but irrelevantly, the book version's “No wearer of the Lens has ever disgraced it” was actually “In the last hundred years, no wearer of the Lens has disgraced it” in the original; what was Dr. Smith thinking of in the original back-story?) The ret-conned book version of Triplanetary fits even less well: Gray Roger's relative impotence simply does not fit Gharlane's powers. (The only apparent backward reference, to counterfeit Golden Meteors, was a later interpolation; see above.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Perhaps Smith meant only that the Lens had at that time been in use for 100 years. This is something that surprised me when I went back and looked for any reference in Galactic Patrol to how long Lensmen had been operating-- AFAIK there's no reference at all to how long the tradition of the Lensmen is. --Lensman003 09:40, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Nor do I recall any attribution in the core novels of the invention of faster-than-light travel to the Nevians, Cleveland, or Rodebush. Contrariwise, the character Bergenholm is a later interpolation, presumably based on the device of the same name in the core novels.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
That fits my visualization of the Cosmic All, too. "Bergenholm" was just a name in the core Lensman novels; Nils Bergenholm was inserted as a minor character into First Lensman to explain why the name of the inertialess drive became "Bergenholm" rather than "Rodebush-Cleveland" as it would have been per Triplanetary. --Lensman003 01:08, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
The inclusion of Triplanetary as part of the Lensman universe was the idea of E. E. Evans ("Epic of Space" p. 87), not Dr. Smith's intention when originally writing the series, and in my opinion it was a mistake. (Gharlane's LensFaq section 1 blames it instead on the publisher, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach.) I feel that reading the series beginning with Triplanetary is a bad idea; Galactic Patrol is the proper starting point.
FlashSheridan 15:40, 27 September 2006 (UTC), revised 9/28, 9/30, 10/1
I agree that Triplanetary is the wrong place to start reading the series, and that's why I inserted the paragraph on the suggested reading order. --Lensman003 01:17, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I’m sorry you did not get the word play between “cannon” and “blaster.”--Infracaninophile 22:09, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

A pun may, in rare cases, excuse a single deliberate typo, but certainly does not justify repeatedly misspelling a word. And just because we didn't find a pun worth commenting on doesn't mean we didn't "get" it. --Lensman003 01:08, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

A bit more on the placement, now that I’ve read the magazine “Vortex Blaster.” The original’s chronology is slightly more firmly before Children of the Lens, since there’s a reference to Sir Austin Cardynge, removed in the book version. (See above.) He had died before the beginning of CoL.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, so far as the original readers knew, the Storm Cloud stories were at the end of the series, not a mere interlude. —FlashSheridan (talk) 19:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

A couple more data points on canonical status: Dr Smith managed to get a couple of allusions to the Vortex Blaster stories into Astounding, in the second installment of Children of the Lens: to vortices themselves in December 1947 p. 106 (book p. 77), and IIRC to Dhiliansas resembling a form of Ploorans.

FlashSheridan (talk) 05:57, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Merge Bergenholm space drive article with this one?[edit]

Well, why not? --Pariahpress 00:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

I think I’m going to disagree; there's a lot of cruft in this article, but the Bergenholm page is admirably focussed. I think it could use some additions, though; in particular, a discussion of partial inertialessness, and its appearance and disappearance in various versions of Dr Smith's writings.
FlashSheridan 07:17, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm going to disagree further, this time also with myself. “Bergenholm space drive” is altogether too narrow a title, and is dreadfully unfair to the Nevians, Rodebush, and Cleveland, not to mention Drounli, and "Slipstick" Libby in Methuselah's Children. I’ve started a new, less Bergenholm-centric article under the title "Inertialess drive", mentioning the above, plus Larry Niven and Alastair Reynolds. I hope others can expand it; in particular, I hope somebody can figure out who the Bigelow was who started it all. Perhaps the Bergenholm space drive article can be wholly or partially merged, but the broad concept of inertialessness deserves its own article, not restricted to just Dr. Smith's Ret-con universe.
FlashSheridan 06:12, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
An admirable solution. Run with it. --Pariahpress 01:20, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Time to break the article into individual pages[edit]

Fresh from editing the short bio of Gharlane of Eddore and creating one for Mentor of Arisia, I've come to the conclusion that it may be time to follow the pattern which is typically used for writing on more contemporary fiction and creating separate pages to hold the characer list (rather than individual pages for each). And while we're at it, how about separate pages for Technology in the Lensman series, Planets in the Lensman Series, and perhaps even individual novel (and Vortex Blaster) story synopses. Comments? --Doc W 17:20, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm fond of the existing individual character pages, and would actually like to see some of the hopeful links (e.g., Kimball Kinnison) made real. I think short, specific articles are less subject to drift and cruft that large omnibus pages; they're also easier to search.
FlashSheridan 19:09, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I second the idea of splitting-off the Technology/Weapons and the Planets sections. Some of the other sections in this article seem a bit overlong to me. The plot synopsis especially. --Pariahpress 03:56, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
While the article does seem too long, and perhaps the technology and planet sections should be broken out into individual pages, I strongly oppose splitting up the plot synopsis into individual books. E.E. Smith conceived the Lensman series as a whole; if you like, as one large novel broken up into four pieces (discounting, of course, the prequels). However, I would not be adverse to breaking the two prequels (Triplanetary and First Lensmen) out into their own story summaries. --Lensman003 09:11, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Another vote for splitting this long article. I'd suggest that we break out the three "glossary" sections into a separate article, or three separate articles. -- Writtenonsand (talk) 23:22, 25 March 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ Astounding September 1937 p. 13, book version pp. 8–9.


Style problem[edit]

This article reads too much like a book review, and not enough like an encyclopedia article. In particular, the article spends a lot of time at the beginning reviewing and critiquing the text, without first giving a summary of what the book is about. At the least, a concise overview of the series is needed before the critical analysis.--Srleffler 04:26, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not make recommendations or express the personal opinions of its writers[edit]

These two paragraphs are problematic:

Reading the series in order of publication avoids plot spoilers introduced in the ret-con version of Triplanetary and First Lensman: Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, Children of the Lens, Triplanetary, First Lensman. The foreword Smith added to each also contains plot spoilers.
The Vortex Blaster stories contain no plot spoilers. Chronologically they seem to fall between Second Stage Lensman and Children of the Lens. Specifically, "Storm Cloud on Deka" (chapter 4 of The Vortex Blaster) refers to "the fall of the Council of Boskone”, yet "the far flung empire of Boskone" is mentioned in "Vegian Justice" (chapter 16), indicating that Boskone has not yet been utterly vanquished.

This is an encyclopedia, not a fan site. We don't make recommendations about which order to read books in. We don't express our own personal opinions that stories "seem to fall" between this or that period.

I don't think those paragraphs have any encyclopedic value. Fine for a blog or a fan site, not good for Wikipedia. --Tony Sidaway 13:43, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

If the books have a natural reading order, and that reading order is discussed in a reliable source, then it's citable; it's encyclopedic if it is relevant information about the books that an article reader might reasonably expect to find out from the article. I think the rec.arts.sf.fandom FAQ discusses reading order, but that's probably not a reliable source for our purposes. If one of the SF encyclopedias (such as Tuck or Nicholls) covers this (and they may well do) then that would be citable. There might even be surviving correspondence by Smith in which he discusses the issue. I agree with Tony that it can't go in as personal opinions of the editors here, but I think an encyclopedic version can be formulated. Mike Christie (talk) 14:12, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the original version (not written by me) violated NPOV; I've tried to clean it up somewhat. Internal chronology is both notable and important to potential readers; I've provided one of the key references from the original. I'm not aware of any general encyclopedic coverage at this level of detail, but the standard works on Dr. Smith (see my contributions to the Wikipedia article on him) obviously back up the points the original author made here. (If anybody who has read the standard secondary sources disagrees, let me know, and I'll dig up the references, though not right away; I'm on vacation this week.)
FlashSheridan 17:47, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm the one who added the "Recommended reading order" section. I apologize if I violated Wikipedia policy. Frankly I was surprised, almost shocked when I read the article the first time about how much opinion there was re: Kyle and Ellern's writings. I also thought the previously added notes about the chronology of the Vortex Blaster stories were excessive, but as an inexperienced Wikipedia contributor I have been reluctant to edit out anyone else's comments.
I realize that I've added what someone's called "cruft" to the article. I would welcome the opportunity to communicate with anyone interested in the Lensman series who is an experienced Wikipedia editor. Someone said the article needs a major revision-- I agree, and would be happy to work with someone to do this. I just don't have the experience to do it on my own. Is there a forum on which Wikipedia editors or wannabe editors discuss issues? I don't see any link to such. If anyone would like to e-mail me about this-- well, I never post my e-mail address in a public place, to keep the spam down, but if you visit <> you can see my e-mail address written at the bottom of the page.
If it's necessary to quote an authority regarding the recommended reading order, spoilers, etc., I offer the following from John Clute's foreword to the Old Earth Books edition of Triplanetary (p. xiii):
The original Lensman sequence, as published in the 1930s and 1940s in Astounding Science Fiction, comprises only Volumes Three through Six of the sequence as published in book form by Fantasy Press between 1948 and 1954, because Smith, when he agreed to book publication, decided that the in media res structure of the magazine sequence-- by virtue of which everybody, Lensmen and readers alike, remain unaware of the true extent of the conflict before the last volume uncovers the arrases behind which the Arisians and the Eddorians have been hiding for hundreds of thousands of words-- lacked gravitas. [paragraph] He was almost certainly wrong... this was not, perhaps, a wise decision. But he took it.
Is it necessary to post any of the above to the main article, to support my contention regarding the importance of the preferred reading order? Believe me, this isn't just "one fan's opinion"-- it's the consensus of informed opinion. If necessary, I can also quote from E.E. "Doc" Smith-- Starmont Reader's Guide 24--Lensman003 09:06, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
I think those are exactly the kind of sources you can use; they don't need to be quoted explicitly; just referenced in a footnote. Mike Christie (talk) 11:41, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. The critical consensus is clear, noteworthy, and important for readers of the series. —FlashSheridan 16:45, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Racial and other Stereotypes[edit]

To my knowledge there is only one African-American mentioned in the entire series, and he parked cars. I believe there may also have been a reference to the admiral of the African continental contingent of Earth's space fleet with an African (rather than a European colonial) sounding name. I'm not implying much of anything here, just pointing out something that occurred to me after having read the books many times. It seems fair to say that the author indulged in many stereotypes among the Earthlings. For instance the head of the academy where Earth's Lensmen are trained is named Von Hohendorff and is a cipher for pitiless German commandants, at least on the outside. Gray Roger's henchmen are all stereotypes as well: the "lantern jawed" American is obsessed with money, the Frenchman wants women, etc. And when you look at the aliens in this light, you occasionally find the same thing: the catlike aliens are caricatures of the general Western world's view of cats, rather than, say, the Egyptian view of cats. Were I to research this concept, I am sure I would find lots more.

I bring this up because it seems to dovetail with the discussion of female lensmen. It has been suggested that the notion of women going into combat was more or less taboo, so the author didn't pursue it. But was there really any reason to make the only visibly black character a car-hop? By the time the novels were written, there had been many notable scientists of color. Does this reveal anything about the author? Or was it just normal for the pulp science fiction of the day? (talk) 05:36, 10 March 2009 (UTC)Fifth Pillinipsi

Any of this type of analysis requires sources other than wikipedia editors to make the analysis before it can be added to the article. -- The Red Pen of Doom 05:51, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
How do you know Raoul LaForge wasn't black? Or Widel Holmberg? Or Cliff Maitland? Or Haynes? Or Lacy? Just because it doesn't explicitly say they were, it doesn't meant they weren't. Maybe, unlike some, Smith thought that race wasn't important. Paul Magnussen (talk) 20:29, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Klovia vs. Medon[edit]

I recently edited the list of planets in the main article to correct the statement that Klovia was the first planet in Lundmark's Nebula to go over to civilization. This is clearly incorrect, as Medon joined civilization and was moved from Lundmark's Nebula to our galaxy in Grey Lensman. Klovia is not mentioned until the next volume of the series, when Grand Fleet invades the second galaxy. As happens all too often with incorrect Wikipedia entries, this false notion has sadly been repeated all over the web, and the correction is unlikely to propagate. (talk) 07:35, 11 March 2009 (UTC)Twelfth Pilinipsi, Chief Dexitroboper

Unpublished book[edit]

I think the list of points speculating on the unpublished book Smith had in mind needs to be removed if it can't be cited; it seems like original research as it stands. Mike Christie (talk) 11:24, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Sub-section: "Information processing"[edit]

Stating that the Patrol's computation technology is restricted to slide rules and analogue calculation machines is incorrect. While there are few references to electronic computers in the series (arguably only one major, in Children of the Lens, and that one vague enough that it might as well be talking about a difference engine for all we know), there are multiple instances of independently working robots, which necessitates some form of at least rudimentary artificial intelligence. (Before others launch at me for bringing up the David Kyle books, I'm talking about the original series, specifically Triplanetary and Second-Stage Lensmen.) In Triplanetary, one android (well, gynoid) can pass well for human, but upon internal inspection is found to be "full of the prettiest machinery and circuits you ever saw", and less advanced robots (e.g., those used by Rogers for menial tasks) don't seem very uncommon. Similarly, as of the Boskonian attack on Tellus, entire fleets of Patrol ships are "automatics" crewed by "robots" requiring only "little superintendence". Melasnikov (talk) 10:51, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

I don't see that the ability of an Eddorian (Gray Roger) to, apparently, construct advanced robotic brains (in Triplanetary) has much bearing on the case. The specification in the article is, or should be, that the forces of Civilization, including the Galactic Patrol, do not use advanced computational machines. This is made quite explicit in the Vortex Blaster series, where a series of progressively more advanced, cutting-edge, prototype electronic or electro-mechanical computers (I think they're analog computers, altho I'm not sure) still take several seconds to perform one complex math calculation.
Also, please note that in Galactic Patrol, Smith goes to some effort to explain how a purely mechanical device can pilot a starship on a randomly changing course. To move from that to ships which work on automatics with little supervision, one only has to add some sort of detectors for hostile beams being fired at the ship and/or the ability to detect other ships nearby, with fire being automatic and directed by the sensors, plus some sort of autopilot which would direct the ship on a course which is pre-set but can be remotely reset in battle. All of this is entirely possible with mechanical and/or electro-mechanical devices, no sophisticated data processing equipment need apply.
All this is, of course, merely my opinion, but I think it's reasonably clear that Civilization did *not* have the technology of advanced electronic computers at the time of Second Stage Lensman, since the development of Dr. Janowick's series of electronic computers (in the Vortex Blaster stories) happened after the end of that story, and before Children of the Lens. --Lensman003 (talk) 13:55, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Old Earth Books no longer publishes the original series. From their website (as of 2-July-2010): "The Old Earth Books six-volume collection of trade paperback facsimiles of the original Fantasy Press hardcover editions of E. E. "Doc" Smith's classic Lensmen series are officially out of print. Old Earth Books no longer has the reprint rights and it is not known when or by whom the series will be reprinted in the future."

Dthein (talk) 21:12, 2 July 2010 (UTC) Dave Hein (dthein)

I changed the wording regarding Old Earth Books from "Current publisher" to "Recent publisher". --Lensman003 (talk) 14:14, 21 February 2011 (UTC)


Normally there is a paragraph (or two) outlining the story without spoilers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:03, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Lensmen in 666, The Number of the Beast[edit]

Traveling through the endless dimensions of space and time, the heroes of Number of the Beast also travel into other books. Both the Lensmen and incest/ alternative sex were "explored" in Number of the Beast. I dont know if that helps resolving the controversy or not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:27, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Reference to Lehnsmänner?[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:58, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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