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on 31 August 2017
Still eminently readable
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on 6 January 2000
I first read the lensman series around 1976 as a boy of 14. Since then I have re-read the complete series at least 5 times. Having also read other famous Sci-Fi series such as Azimov's Foundation I would place these books very highly. these books are a great yarn spanning many years from the first faster then light travel (triplanetary) to the ultimate space war between the oldest races of the universe. They have got everything. If you enjoyed stuff like Star Trek you'll like these books. I am still waiting for Speilberg or Lucaz to make the movie(s).
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on 29 June 2008
This book (and all its predecessors and successors in the sequence - Triplanetary, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, Grey Lensman, Second-Stage Lensman, Children of the Lens, and Masters of the Vortex) are a perfect example of the sci-fi genre so often dismissed in their time as pulp fiction, and therefore ignored by mainstream book critics and their ilk for decades, and yet they have an enduring appeal for the space-obsessed wannabe astronauts in all of us, written in a banging style that hardly leaves you room to breathe, yet you dare not put the books down in case you miss the next bit!
Although they are obviously written over a significant time period, from the mid-'40s through to the late '50's, there seems no lag in pace and continuity from one book to the next, indicating that Smith had the whole intricate Lens saga plotted out long before he ever put thought to paper.
The language used throughout, and the references to drug smuggling and sexual themes (there is no sexual content to speak of, just references to sexual matters in a way that even the most rabidly conservative southern baptist would have found inoffensive) seems strangely anodyne and speaks loudly of the times in which the books were written.
Today, the storytelling seems a little insipid to one who grew up reading (and watching) slightly more adult treatments of similar themes (Ancient evil empires, God-like benevolent superbeings, a race to develop more lethal technology and ever more destructive devices, planet-wrecking, mind control and galactic culture-shocks - is it me, or is there starting to appear a similarity to a certain 6-film cycle?).

That aside, the books do tell a good, old-fashioned tale of Good versus Evil, (although the insistence in the earlier books of portraying american values and culture as the only possible alternative to intergalactic evil and anarchy strikes a more than slightly ironic note these days), and, if read in the order above, present a tale of the fight for control over the universe stretching from the depths of prehistory to the far distant future. I have read and re-read these books, in sequence and individually, many times since I first came across them in the mid-70's, in my late teens, and became boyishly attached to them long before I realised how dated they really were - not that I cared!

I think that if I were asked to read them for the first time today I might not be so charmed by Smith's dated and simplistic moralising, given what we are asked to swallow in these days of global disinformation and spin-speak by governing regimes who are obviously unable even to believe themselves when handing down assurances and platitudes about how well off we are under their care and protection. Read these books and slip back for a while to a simpler time.

All in all, a good, thud 'n' blunder space opera, with lashings of handsome, Marlowe-esque goodies, rayguns, strange aliens, thoroughly evil baddies, Galactic overlords, faster than light space ships, wormholes and tough-talking fair maidens with guns of their own!
(If you have read any of Mick Farren or William Gibson, think of of them as the antidote to this kind of sci-fi, but don't make any value judgements until you have actually read them side by side. These books are a product of their time, and there are possibly no finer examples of their genre, so give them a try.)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 December 2008
I (and many others) believe the best place to start with Doc Smith's "Lensman" series is Galactic Patrol; and as I've said why, at length, in my review of that opus, I won't repeat it here.

"Gray Lensman" begins where "Patrol" left off, and never flags, from the start to the finish.

Smith at this point is a massively improved writer from the author of the earlier Skylark series, and much more confident in his characters: Richard Seaton, for instance, never has the moments of self-doubt that trouble Kinnison, and would certainly never burst into tears (as the latter does when his nurse won't feed him beefsteak in hospital!).

Even more unexpected is the development of an impish sense of humour, manifested in several places, but most notably in the exploits of Wild Bill Williams of Aldebaran II, in the present volume — surely one of the most entertaining episodes in the whole of Golden Age SF.

I've never understood critics — including the normally-perspicacious Brian Aldiss* — who say that Smith couldn't write. True, he probably never gave T.S. Eliot (his exact contemporary) any sleepless nights, and better authors have certainly stood on his shoulders; but the Lensman series is F-U-N, and without it the SF world would be a much duller place.

*in Billion Year Spree, later revised as Trillion Year Spree.
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on 19 September 2014
Product arrived promptly and was as described.

I first read this series when I was a young teenager and I was curious to see how it would stand up some years later.

This isn't sophisticated science fiction. It is violent, and the dialogue is embarrassing. But I still enjoyed it for what it is.

What I loved about Smiths books is the universe he creates and its scope, rather than the quality of his prose.

Come to mention it, I seem to remember finding the dialogue embarrassing as a 15-year-old.

I fully intend to re-read the entire series
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on 21 October 2014
Written by a genuine scientist who knew his stuff, however his vision of the possible future is a bit dated now. Having said that the classic adventure stories are real gripping page turners. A vision of how technology might have gone had not the transistor and microchip on which all computers are based, not been invented. It is almost 'SteamPunk' or can I invent a new term - 'ElectroPunk' from the 20's and 30s of last century. Worth a read.
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on 10 September 2014
"Doc" Smith wrote "The Enormous Thing" style of SciFi, galaxy spanning with evil bug eyed monsters, gorgeous women and handsome muscular hero's, machines to smash planets together and destroy suns and only time to say "gosh".
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on 28 May 2015
was good to hear this series in this form, still brilliant, marred only by poor narration, very over the top, it really took the shine from it, no real need for the strange voice changes, but , ignoring that, excellent!
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on 18 July 2015
classic science fiction well worth reading again
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on 3 March 2016
Filling in the gaps in my collection. Very happy
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