Sue me for the pun later. First, let me tell you about Lensman.
I’ve been on this run of serial fiction lately, picking up collections of stuff that originally came out in Astounding Science Fiction or The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I started with the original run of Elric stories, if for no other reason than that Amazon gave the Kindle edition away for free. Something about the raw rush of energy really hit me, even through the dripping-with-emo aura of Moorcock’s albino hero. It was something fantasy had not been to me in a long time: a really, really good time.
So I wanted more, naturally. I considered Conan, but Brennen suggested something else: “Doc” E. E. Smith’s Lensman books. Sure, I thought, why not? I have a severe Science Fiction deficit in my reader-ography, so why not start with the grandaddy of space opera? I always thought the title Lensman sounded a bit goofy, but it wasn’t like that was a fair criticism of anything after I just finished four novellas about an albino with a soul stealing sword called Stormbringer.
I decided to start with Galactic Patrol, which isn’t exactly the first story in the series, but is the first with its central character, Kimball Kinnison, and covers his first battle with the Boskone pirates. I wasn’t sure if it was even going to hit me, so rather than try and read the whole series straight through and end up potentially bored, I did something I usually don’t and started in the middle. I’m glad I did. Galactic Patrol is just a great, great time. It’s filled with strange planets, bizarre creatures and insane space battles. There are spy-beams and projectors and screens and all kinds of other pseudo-scientific things on display, most of which barely makes sense at first but eventually becomes part of the rhythm of the language. Spy beams flicked out. Screens gave off rainbow color under the force of the projectors. Wacky stuff. Fun.
If you liked Star Wars and can give some really clunky 1930’s dialogue a pass, I think you’d have to work not to have fun reading Galactic Patrol.
Now I’m onto the first book of The Chronicles of Amber, Nine Princes in Amber. After that, I’ve got both Grey Lensman, the next book in Smith’s series, and The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard. Solomon Kane just got made into what’s supposedly a pretty awesome film, so before it hits in the U.S. I thought I should read some of the original stories of Howard’s Puritan demon hunter. I mean, really; Puritan demon hunter. That’s almost all you have to know.