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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Gray Lensman / E.E. "Doc" Smith

Gray Lensman - E.E. "Doc" Smith

Somewhere among the galaxies was the stronghold of Boskone - a network of brilliant space-criminals whose hunger for conquest threatened the continued existence of all known civilization.

But where was stronghold? Boskonian bases were scattered across the universe - shielded by gigantic thought-screens that defied penetration. The best minds in the Galactic Patrol had tried. And failed. Now it was up to Lensman Kim Kinnison, using his fantastic powers, to infiltrate the Boskonian strongholds, find the location of the enemy's Grand Base - and smash it forever.

But Kinnison didn't know then that the power of Boskone reached further than anyone had dreamed - into the Galactic Patrol itself...

This is an old science fiction series and I have experienced difficulty in finding all the volumes at the appropriate time. As a result, I had given up on finding this volume and went ahead and read the remainder. Then surprisingly, just before Christmas, I found Gray Lensman in my local second-hand book store. Being a bit of a completionist, I grabbed it and added it to my stack of sci-fi for 2015.

In all honesty, it was an unnecessary exercise—Gray Lensman is very similar to the book before it and the book after it. Smith found his formula and stuck to it. Interesting to me was the degree to which the romantic relationship between the hero, Kim Kinnison, and his wife-to-be figured in these novels. They reminded me of the westerns of Zane Grey, which my mother owned stacks of and which I read during the long summer holidays during junior high school--the square-jawed, good-guy hero who is reluctant to entangle a “good woman” in his less-than-savoury life. For that reason alone, I actually kind of like these old space operas, which bring me happy memories of my past.

These are not great science fiction novels compared to some of the masters of the genre today, but they are where sci-fi got its start and are interesting to me for that reason. They were ground-breaking at the time that they were written and I can see how they influenced more recent writers, including Robert A. Heinlein.