E E 'Doc' Smith

E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Biographical detail.

Doc Smith is best known for the Lensmen books. These tell of the titanic struggle between the Arisians and the Eddorians. A struggle that has lasted for aeons throughout the Two Galaxies.

The Arisians are humanoid (See here for a definition for Humanoid), or had been many, many millennia ago, but now they have evolved away from dependence on the purely physical and are for all practical purposes immortal.

In order to keep themselves occupied during the long millennia, they have developed a sort of Game called the Visualisation of the Cosmic All. It is said that from a few basic facts about the Galaxy a truly competent mind could determine all that is to be known about that Galaxy. The Arisians spend vast swathes of time developing their Visualisations and testing them against the physical reality (Please note that Doc Smith was writing this decades before the development of Chaos Theory!).

The Eddorians, on the other hand are not from this Universe at all, but from another. Like the Arisians. the Eddorians are essentially immune to the effects of physical force but unlike the Arisians, they remain wedded to the effects of the physical. In form they are amoeboidal and their planet is like no other in this continuum.

In one respect, this was a very strange war for the Eddorians were not aware that they were actually at war for much of the conflict! When the Arisians had first contacted the Eddorian intrusion, an event long considered likely, they almost immediately blanked out details of the contact and long range plans were set in motion.

As the Eddorian plans matured, it seemed that things were going their way. Planet after planet fell under their sway and took it's place in the Hierarchy of Power. Except, there were anomalies, the planets Palain VII, Rigel, Valentia and Sol III. Here the planets resisted all attempts to be moulded into the correct form. Oh, a civilisation might be wrecked but a few centuries later a new one would sprout from the wreckage.

Triplanetary

First Lensman

Galactic Patrol

Grey Lensman

 Second Stage Lensman

Children of the Lens

Masters of the Vortex

The Lens of Civilisation

Some things that you might note about the books:

There are virtually no computers - in a number of the books there are references to computers, but these are generally men employed to compute things, though there is a reference to a mechanical computing device in Children of the Lens that is clearly a fairly experimental device and the development of calculating machines is a plot strand in Masters of the Vortex. The mechanical ingenuity of the members of the Galactic Patrol is also rather high; mere months for the introduction of a whole new technology.

There are actually quite a few women in the books though this is often not noticeable due to the maleness of the rest of the characters <G>. However, those who do appear are unusually effective for the time period that the books were written (the late thirties to the early fifties). Isaac Asimov in this period of his writings had only Susan Calvin of US Robots and Mechanical Men (and the teenaged Arkady Darrel and her grandmother, Bayta in the Foundation stories, though they are not the main protagonists), who, although undoubtedly brilliant is largely unfulfilled.

The colour of the various Terrans in the books is largely ignored so you can feel free to be generous. One or two of Kinnison's class mates in Galactic Patrol can probably be assumed to be of Spanish background. The only definitely black character is the doorkeeper in First Lensman but he's not a large enough sample to make a real comment on the treatment of non WASP members of society. Given the fact that the stories were written in the thirties and forties, and Doc Smith's age when he wrote the books, ignoring the then current situation of non WASPs was probably as positive as you could get.

You might also think that the books are rather thin compared to current door stoppers, but don't let this worry you: Doc Smith has managed to pack more ideas and plot into these thin books as most modern authors get into those door stoppers. The pace of the books is quite stupendous as well!!

Remember - these books are available through Amazons web sites at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com


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