In the not too distance future, while fleets of commercial space ships travel between the planets of numerous solar systems, a traveler named Virgil Samms visits the planet Arisia There he becomes the first wearer of the Lens, the almost living symbol of the forces of law and order As the first Lensman, Samms helps to form the Galactic Patrol, a battalion of Lensmen who are larger than life heroes These solders are the best of the best, with incredible skills, stealth, and drive They are dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known Read by Reed McColmCD sHrs


10 thoughts on “First Lensman

  1. Stephen Stephen says:

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


  2. Manuel Antão Manuel Antão says:

    If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Willing Suspension of Disbelief The First Lensman by E E Doc Smith Nobody does anything for nothing Altruism is beautiful in theory, but it has never been known to work in practice In The First Lensman by E E Doc SmithIn many or most written SF, certainly in SF films, the canny audience member engages in a willing suspension of disbelief The question for me often comes down to just a couple considerations is it a bridge to If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Willing Suspension of Disbelief The First Lensman by E E Doc Smith Nobody does anything for nothing Altruism is beautiful in theory, but it has never been known to work in practice In The First Lensman by E E Doc SmithIn many or most written SF, certainly in SF films, the canny audience member engages in a willing suspension of disbelief The question for me often comes down to just a couple considerations is it a bridge too far, just too many stupidities of too gross a scale for me to be able to buy in And am I enjoying myself on other levels is it just so fun or cool or exciting, or are the characters and story just so damned compelling, that I can t help but have a good time So, if I m not offended by the stupidity, and the work in question as a narrative, then I m happily able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy it Ok it s only SF but..If you re into Vintage SF, read on


  3. Adrian Adrian says:

    In this episode Virgil Samms, our square jawed handsome hero is called telepathically to Arisia, the planet that has hitherto been off limits to all the races of the Galaxy.He returns having been judged of suitable character and intelligence by the Arisians to wield a lens This gives its wearer unheard of mental powers, but with this power comes great responsibility.In the meantime the Eldorians boo have been led to believe that the Ariaians hooray pose no threat to them whatsoever and so In this episode Virgil Samms, our square jawed handsome hero is called telepathically to Arisia, the planet that has hitherto been off limits to all the races of the Galaxy.He returns having been judged of suitable character and intelligence by the Arisians to wield a lens This gives its wearer unheard of mental powers, but with this power comes great responsibility.In the meantime the Eldorians boo have been led to believe that the Ariaians hooray pose no threat to them whatsoever and so will ignore the Arisiand helping humans become the driving force in the Galaxy.This is a great book and a worthy continuation of Triplanetary A great easy reading Space Opera that got a lot of people through the years into sci fi.This review is part of my effort to catch up and write a review for every book I didn t, on first joining GR


  4. Sandy Sandy says:

    Although a fairly direct sequel to Triplanetary, which is now almost universally regarded as the opening salvo in E E Doc Smith s famed Lensman series, Book 2, perhaps misleadingly titled First Lensman, was actually the last of the six books comprising this most famous of all Golden Age space operas to be written As I mentioned in my review of Book 1, Smith had originally written Books 3 through 6 over the 13 year period 1934 47, but then felt that something in the order of a prequel Although a fairly direct sequel to Triplanetary, which is now almost universally regarded as the opening salvo in E E Doc Smith s famed Lensman series, Book 2, perhaps misleadingly titled First Lensman, was actually the last of the six books comprising this most famous of all Golden Age space operas to be written As I mentioned in my review of Book 1, Smith had originally written Books 3 through 6 over the 13 year period 1934 47, but then felt that something in the order of a prequel for his remarkably complex story line was needed Thus, Triplanetary first appeared in 1948, with First Lensman eventually showing up in 1950 Originally released as a 3 hardcover edition by the Fantasy Press publishing house, with cover art by famed illustrator A J Donnell, the book has since gone through multiple paperback incarnations I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on the 1982 Berkley reprint, with a beautiful cover illustration by David B Maddingly Essentially comprising Part 2 of a 500 page backstory to the main events of Books 3 6, First Lensman is a tad less thrilling than the first installment had been, although readers who are expecting stillin the way of bizarre aliens and epic space battles will surely not be disappointed The book is a bit drier than the first, focusingon undercover police work, politics and criminal activities, but it also introduces us to the concept of the Lens itself, and shows just how the Galactic Patrol came to beboth of which will figure prominently in the later books.Unlike in Book 1, the multibillion year struggle between the kindly and philosophical Arisians and the monstrously power hungry Edorrians is barely touched on here Many of the characters from the earlier installment do make a welcome return, though, and so we see again Virgil Samms, the Nick Fury like head of the Triplanetary Patrol, now dreaming big dreams of making his force galactic in scope Given a tip by Dr Nels Bergenholm, one of the ace scientists who works in Samms organization, and who is in fact a human possessed by an Arisian mentality, Virgil makes the trip to the distant world of Arisia, a planet that heretofore had been impossible to approach And once there, Virgil makes contact with one of the beings of the superrace a being who refers to itself only as Mentor and is the first to be given a Lens a lenticular something in a platinum iridium bracelet a sort of pseudo lifein physical circuit with the living entity the ego, let us say with whom it is in exact resonance Specifically created for its wearer, the Lens gives that person the ability to communicate telepathically with any living creatureand it is inferred that it also harbors other powers, as well Thus, Samms becomes the titular first Lensman, and he is instructed to send others to the Arisians to see if they might also be Lens worthy During the course of the book, Samms seeks out other potential Lens wearers in various worlds throughout the galaxy, with the full knowledge that any future member of his proposed Galactic Patrol really must be so equippedespecially inasmuch as the Lens cannot be counterfeited, and is thus a surefire means of both identification and of excluding potential undercover foes.But meanwhile, as the galaxywide search for possible Lens candidates continues, Samms Co prosecute their intentions of bringing to justice the interstellar drug traffic, in particular the makers, distributors and retailers of the drug called thionite, which is so very addictive in nature that it makes 20th century crack cocaine seem like a Flintstones Vitamin in comparison Another problem facing Samms and his patrol the widespread corruption in the North American government, as personified by one Senator Morgan, who had been fleetingly introduced in Book 1 And finally, there is the persistent menace of interstellar piracy to be dealt with To further their goals in these three arenas, Samms himself goes undercover to Trenco, the insanely harsh world where the broadleaf used to make thionite is harvested Conway Costigan, one of our heroes from Book 1, goes undercover as a uranium miner on the planet Erinda, from where uranium freighters are being used to transport the processed thionite Roderick Kinnison who had also been briefly introduced to us in Book 1, and whose extended family figures so prominently in all six books decides to run for North American president, on the Cosmocrats ticket, to take on the corrupt Nationalist party his son Jack Kinnison, along with master electronicist Mason Northrop, also goes undercover and come up against two very dangerous women and 23 year old Virgilia Jill Samms, Virgil s daughter, goes undercover as well, as she seduces Morgan s personal secretary, Herkimer Herkimer III.Into these multiple and converging story lines Smith gives the reader any number of truly memorable scenes Thus, the spectacle of Samms visit to the incredibly noisy world of Rigel III, the frozen wastes of Pluto, and the bizarre world of Palain, as he endeavors to find suitable Lens recruits The scene at the Ambassadors Ball, at which Samms is almost assassinated, followed by an all out nuclear bombardment of Samms base of operations, The Hill, in the Bitterroot Mountains of east Idaho The scene in which the undercover Samms is forced to take a dose of thionite, with devastating results The scene in which Jill is made to undergo some particularly nasty torture at the hands of that Herkimer, etc., fella The entire sequence in which we get to follow the trail of the smuggled thionite back on Earth, a la some kind of galactic French Connection The political campaign waged by Kinnison the elder, and the wonderfully written speeches that he gives, followed by the equally well written BS speeches orated by Morgan And last but certainly not least, no fewer than three battles in the depths of space the first following that attack on The Hill the second between the Patrol and a pirate vessel Dronvire the Rigelian is particularly impressive during the null gravity boarding section here and the third between the Patrol and a huge force of pirates and Morgan s adherents, each side surprising the other with tremendous fleets from their secret base worlds Petrine in the case of the bad guys Bennett for Samms Co It is all thrilling spectacle, for the most part, if slightly less juicy than in Book 1.I did, however, have a number of minor problems with this second Lensman installment The science of astronomical measurement has come a long way since Smith wrote First Lensman almost 70 years ago, and so I suppose he can be forgiven the following two gaffes Aldebaran, as we now know, is 65 light years from Earth, not the stated 57, and Rigel is 863 light years distant, not the stated 440 That third battle just alluded to is a bit hard to visualize, what with one side being in a cone shape and the other being in a cylindrical one to engulf pipe wise, the entire apex of the enemy s war cone The mining disaster on Erinda, likewise, was very difficult for this reader to picture And, ohas a longtime Big Apple dweller, I was not crazy about hearing that the residents of NYC, of all places, were apparently so na ve and gullible as to go for the Nationalists in that general election And while I m carping, in that scene in which Kinnison, Jr and Northrop rescue Jill from her torture, just how are they arrowing downward through the air and diving headlong from high windows Jetpacks, I presume Some mention by the author might have been nice And, oh, yesduring that assassination attempt, when Rod Kinnison Lenses to his fellow agents In emergencies, it is of course permissible to kill a few dozen innocent bystanders well, as a potential innocent bystander myself, I really must cry foul here Finally, at the book s tail end, we learn that a full five years have elapsed since the beginning of the story, when Samms first acquired his Lens on Arisia The only thing is, for the reader, it feelslike perhaps half a year, at most Still, quibbles aside, there is an awful lot to love in Smith s second installment here Interestingly, the ships in this offering are not just globular, as in the first, but also torpedo shaped and teardrop shaped, as well The author places pleasing little tidbits into his story as grace notes such as the hyperaggressive advertising to be encountered when driving on NYC s highways, and those strange little fontema creatures that Samms studies on A Zabriskae Two , and is not afraid to make up his own words to suit the occasion such as figmental, and duodecaplylatomate, that latter being some type of weapon or explosive don t ask meAnd whereas Book 1 had given us ships defensive force screens and tractor beams as possible Star Trek inspirations, in Book 2, we see Kinnison, Jr giving one of those lethal ladies something very reminiscent of the Vulcan neck pinch And I just love the notion of a U.S president being compelled to wear a Lens, so as to preclude any ability to lie to the public a Lensman president could not lie to you except by word of mouth or in writing You could demand from him at any time a Lensed statement upon any subject Upon some matters of state he could and should refuse to answer but not upon any question involving moral turpitude If he answered, you would know the truth If he refused to answer, you would know why and could initiate impeachment proceedings then and there Oh, how this reader wishes that our current president, Donald Trump, could be forced to wear a Lens and so telepathically communicate his true nature to the American people and the world A very pleasant fantasy, that One of the hallmarks of these Lensman books, I have heard, is that each successive volume enlarges on what has come before, opening in scopeandSeemingly minor characters mentioned offhand in Book 1 have become rather major players in Book 2 And so, I eagerly await the further developments of Book 3, now that our Lensmen have been formed, the Galactic Patrol has become a reality, and Roderick Kinnison has become president What can possibly happen next I guess that I will just have to proceed on to Book 3 now, Galactic Patrol, to find out After 500 pages of backstory, the main events, one senses, are about to commence By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at a most ideal destination for all fans of E E Doc Smith


  5. Wanda Wanda says:

    In the not too distance future, while fleets of commercial space ships travel between the planets of numerous solar systems, a traveler named Virgil Samms visits the planet Arisia There he becomes the first wearer of the Lens, the almost living symbol of the forces of law and order As the first Lensman, Samms helps to form the Galactic Patrol, a battalion of Lensmen who are larger than life heroes These solders are the best of the best, with incredible skills, stealth, and drive They are de In the not too distance future, while fleets of commercial space ships travel between the planets of numerous solar systems, a traveler named Virgil Samms visits the planet Arisia There he becomes the first wearer of the Lens, the almost living symbol of the forces of law and order As the first Lensman, Samms helps to form the Galactic Patrol, a battalion of Lensmen who are larger than life heroes These solders are the best of the best, with incredible skills, stealth, and drive They are dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known By far the best of the Lensman series that I have read so far the most intricate plot and the most characters, though they are still pretty stereotyped One has to consider that this was published in 1940, when military men were heroes and equated with all that was good, against the forces of evil pretty much the planet of Arisia vs Eddore Once again, I am struck by the forward looking role of women in this novel When selecting people to go to Arisia to become Lensmen, the men unanimously choose their coworker, Jill, who accompanies them on the voyage She doesn t end up with a Lens, as it appears that the Arisians are less accepting than human men She comes back, reporting, Women s minds and Lenses don t fitLenses are as masculine as whiskersThere is going to be a woman Lensman some day just one but not for years and years But Jill goes on to play a pivotal role in the plot and in the end, hooks up with one of the official Lensmen, Mason Northrup I guess Smith let the aliens be the chauvinistic ones I also enjoyed how politicians and elections get thoroughly run down as corrupt and unfair much the same way that many people feel today In that regard, the book has a very modern sensibility, although I m sure we would be suspicious of a military body of any kind over seeing an election to maintain its integrity Its fascinating to see the beginnings of the science fiction genre and too see where some of the enduring stereotypes come from I wouldn t recommend the Lensman series to just anyone, but it you are interested in the history of the sci fi genre, this series is required reading


  6. Matt Matt says:

    One can see the great influence that this work has had on TV science fiction and comic books like the 60 s present day version of The Green Lantern, but I m not sure why.Smith s writing is very stilted It s worth it to muddle through this just to understand the scope of its influence, but I can t continue with this series It s too dated and the writing is too poor.


  7. Zachary Zachary says:

    Title First LensmanSeries Lensman, Book 2Author Doc E E SmithGenre Science FictionSmith continues his epic Lensman series in First Lensman The Arisians are continuing to monitor and influence the development of four different races in the galaxy, specifically interested in the human race from Tellus or Earth Where Triplanetary, the first book in the series, literally took the reader back to the very beginning of the conflict between the Eddorians and the Arisians, describing the init Title First LensmanSeries Lensman, Book 2Author Doc E E SmithGenre Science FictionSmith continues his epic Lensman series in First Lensman The Arisians are continuing to monitor and influence the development of four different races in the galaxy, specifically interested in the human race from Tellus or Earth Where Triplanetary, the first book in the series, literally took the reader back to the very beginning of the conflict between the Eddorians and the Arisians, describing the initial developments in the Arisian s plans to ultimately destroy the Eddorians That book was almost a collection of short stories, leaping through history and touching on various stories of two specific genealogical lines In the latter part of that book Smith introduces the reader to Virgil Samms, who is the central character in this novel.Samms, who becomes the First Lensman, is the driving force behind the development of first the Interstellar Police, which he eventually sees as inadequate for the job needing to be done When the Arisians bestow the Lens upon him and pledge to providefor all who are worthy, Samms finally has the incorruptible sign of authority needed and so moves on to establish the Galactic Patrol and the Galactic Council to oversee interstellar matters.This book is quite a ride Smith weaves quite a fantastic story, and he has a rather unrelenting pace Though it was written in the 50s most of his technology is vague enough to mature adequately with age Every now and then the way he perceives future technology specifically that of computers is definitely rooted in his understanding of computers at that time, and that causes the reader to hesitate a little but then the story distracts you again and you realize you could care less about the tech because the story is so engaging.Though most fans of this series will say correctly that it really takes off with Galactic Patrol, the next book in the series, this is no second rate book In fact, I recommend reading through the entire series chronologically The books get better and better, in my mind, at least, as you go through the books in their chronological order in the Lensman universe not chronological order of publication.Overall I greatly enjoyed this book and would easily recommend it to anyone Since it was written so long ago it is actually very clean as far as language and sexual material is concerned I would just very strongly encourage anyone reading this book to get their hands on the other books in the series as well they are classics in every sense of the word.Worldview secularRecommended age It is a very clean book in regards to language and sexual situations There is a little violence, but even that is described modestly , though the violence may not be so mild Thusly, as soon as a child can understand the concepts within the book, they should be okay reading it


  8. prcardi prcardi says:

    Storyline 1 5Characters 1 5Writing Style 2 5World 1 5I read these 1950s pulp fiction classicsout of devotion to the genre than for the pleasure of the actual book In most regards this typifies the space operas of the 1940s and early 50s damsel, hero, and villain characters choppy action sequences and awful dialogue In a couple of areas this is a vast improvement, however, over the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp era Smith spent a lot of his wordcount and effort on addressing potential Storyline 1 5Characters 1 5Writing Style 2 5World 1 5I read these 1950s pulp fiction classicsout of devotion to the genre than for the pleasure of the actual book In most regards this typifies the space operas of the 1940s and early 50s damsel, hero, and villain characters choppy action sequences and awful dialogue In a couple of areas this is a vast improvement, however, over the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp era Smith spent a lot of his wordcount and effort on addressing potential plotholes and providing a hard science fiction groundwork for his spacefaring There were also some indications that Smith wanted this to stand as somethingthan a mindless adventure book, and he had some elementary musings on the slide from democracy to despotism In all of these positive areas, however, Smith was rather amateurish The plothole plugging took the form of extended dialogues and were oftentimes hard to follow as Smith was the only one who knew what counterarguments were being prepared for The hard science fiction is pretty hokey by scientific standards of today, and the bigger issues and musings read like someone considering the topics for the first time B for effort and F for execution If I had to find something good to say about the book, I d say that it did a fair job of projecting the police precinct into an international and galaxy wide scale.I usually try to read series books in the order they were written That was particular difficult to do here The first Lensman writings appear to have been published in serials in 1938 and later turned into the 3rd Lensman book The first Lensman book, Triplanetary, is one of the oldest Smith writings but was re written as a Lensman story only after the entire series had been issued through magazines This, First Lensman, is the only one that wasn t a fix up, was the second one to be published as a novel, but was the last of the six stories to actually have been written Confusing huh Anyway, the internal chronology would have you reading Triplanetary first I haven t read it yet, so it is possible that I would have gottenout of it had I read them in their internally chronological order


  9. William Rood William Rood says:

    Classic space opera, and very possibly the canonical example of the genre, as massive fleets assemble to create and defend civilization, whilst a hero is elevated to god like powers and abilities, and a new force to save the universe if established No, this is not star wars, its Lensmen Sadly, however, it is lost in the campy and often misogynistic rhetoric of the age Dr Smith lived in The sense of Flash Gordon esc dime store novels serial radio programs from the first installment still r Classic space opera, and very possibly the canonical example of the genre, as massive fleets assemble to create and defend civilization, whilst a hero is elevated to god like powers and abilities, and a new force to save the universe if established No, this is not star wars, its Lensmen Sadly, however, it is lost in the campy and often misogynistic rhetoric of the age Dr Smith lived in The sense of Flash Gordon esc dime store novels serial radio programs from the first installment still rings true The salient plot point that rang true was the political drama that encompassed the second half of the book After the first lens is granted, and the galactic patrol is strengthened by an elite cadre of lens carrying super heroes of all races within the galaxy, the book hyper focuses on the political aspect of kick starting civilization , here after used to refer to the Good Guys , where as Bosconians is used to refer to the pirate or is it, duh duh dummmmmm forces that oppose all that is right and good in the galaxy.Very light reading, quick, and most enjoyable to read hear the expressions of 1940 s America used by ancient alien races, like Oh boy gal, ain t we got fun , or keep that up bub, and I ll hang one right on your chin so hard they wont see you till next Tuesday Lovely.If I were honest, and this was a modern writer, I d have to rate this much lower, but the prestige of being the first, the trail blazer if you will, and laying out the scaffolding of what would become my favorite area to read and relax within, caused it to end up being rated higher


  10. Megan Baxter Megan Baxter says:

    My expectations on sitting down to this book were not high The previous Doc Smith book I d read was not that impressive and had a bunch of casual racism, even though it was, for the time period, not too bad for how it depicted women.Note The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook My expectations on sitting down to this book were not high The previous Doc Smith book I d read was not that impressive and had a bunch of casual racism, even though it was, for the time period, not too bad for how it depicted women.Note The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook