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).
It was beginning to look as if no one could prevent the destruction of the Universe. For a strange intelligence was directing the destruction of all civilization from the icy depths of space.
Kim Kinnison of the Patrol was one of the few men who knew how near the end was. And in the last desperate plan to save all life, he knew he had to use his children as bait for the evil powers of the planet Ploor
More adventures in ancient science fiction—certainly Smith’s series does not stand up to today’s standards, but it certainly shows where sci fi had its beginnings. Reading it is rather like an archaeological dig, exposing the roots of the genre. I’m glad to see in this book that the female characters get to step up and show what they’re made of. Clarrisa dons her gray Lensman leathers (which still fit after having five children, including two sets of twins). Her four daughters keep all the male Lensmen (and even the Arisians) on their toes. Mind you, it’s implied that there just aren’t any men out there who will ever measure up to these women and that they better get used to a celibate life. Clarissa, after all, has been the only female Lensman and she and Kim Kinnison (Stage Two Lensman) have produced the only stage-three Lensman children. The four daughters have only their brother Kit and, to some extent, their father Kim as their male equals. Obviously the Arisians’ breeding program has come to a screeching halt unless they were planning to mate brother to sister like dog breeders. So it’s just as well that they have ridden out of town, leaving everything to the new sheriff, …er, I mean to the Galactic Patrol, by book’s end.
It is fiction of its era—matters are very black and white, characters are all good or all bad, whole scale destruction is good if it is done by the right people. Written in the years following World War II, this is hardly a surprising outlook. It’s been 100 years since the beginning of WWI, and we’re just starting to see a more nuanced history of that event starting to spread into popular culture, replacing the good guys and bad guys with military guys on both sides. Science fiction has come a long way, too, in the ensuing 50+ years and we enjoy the products of that progress.
This is my 148th book read from the NPR list of great science fiction and fantasy.