Hi-fi sci-fi: listen to more in the Lensman series.
© and (P)2006 Books in Motion. This recording is produced by arrangement with The Estate of E. E. "Doc" Smith and Virginia Kidd, Inc.
"The most towering figure in science fiction, thanks to the enormous scope of his novels." (Isaac Asimov)
"If you wish to understand the roots of modern science fiction, you have to read the Lensman saga." (Allen Steele)
"A finalist for a special Hugo Award for All-Time Best Series, 'Lensman' is considered by many sf heads to be the greatest of the space operas and clearly a source for such successors as Star Trek and Star Wars." (Library Journal)
Okay. The narrator of this series is not the best. Nevertheless, this story still works if you can get past some of writing (the "look of eagles" in the eyes of Lensmen for instance). If you've never dipped into these before, get Galactic patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens in that order. If you are still hooked, go back and pick up First lensman. You have to be a real diehard lensmen fan to slug through Triplanetary.
This is classic space opera, good versus evil, with the guys in the white hats destined to win. Smith wasn't very good at envisioning future technology, but he comes up with some fun ideas. The inertialess drive is an interesting solution to FSL travel and the negasphere is one of the best Sci_Fi weapons ever imagined. His aliens are fun too, especially the frigid planet dwellers. Considering that the series was started in the late 30s, it holds up amazingly well.
I was intrigued about the Lensman series of novels ever since I saw some of the books in a bookstore, but they are now out of print. When Audible had their half-price sale, I jumped at the chance and bought Galactic Patrol, which according to Wikipedia is the first of the published novels (Triplanetary and First Lensman being backstory volumes published after Children of the Lens). The story seems a little anachronistic since it was written even before the first computer was invented, but it still holds its own in a retro sort of way. The narrator, Reed McColm, however, does not do the story justice with his performance. His dry delivery and characterizations of some characters like Van Buskirk and Worzel become more and more annoying as you hear them, and by the time the first part of the story is over, you will feel like you want to stop listening and pick up the books instead. Given the fact that he reads the other Lensman novels, and assuming his performance is the same throughout, I cannot recommend the series in Audiobook format. You are better served finding the books and reading them yourself.
Unlike the other reviewers I totally dig McColm's News Reel style reading. While the accents were hokey so was the acting in movies of that time period. I will concede that I did not like his choice of voice for Van Buskirk.
For those who's first exposure to Lensman was via the Anime, prepare to have that cartoon utterly ruined by this book.
E.E. "Doc" Smith was the father of space opera, and the Lensman series was by far his finest work. Each book is 10 hours of breathless, over-the-top purple prose - titanic space battles, lantern-jawed hero, fiery-tempered nurse girlfriend, vile but stupid drug peddlers, and brilliant scientists inventing godlike new technologies with dazzling rapidity. Nearly every modern space opera trope, from Death Stars to deflector shields, got its start with the Lensman series. Everything that is now cliche was fresh when Doc Smith invented it.
In other words, if you like space opera, listen to the Lensman books.
Reed McColm, the narrator, does a very good "1950s American radio guy voice", but makes quite a few pronunciation errors.
While I'll agree that Reed McColm isn't the best narrator - he does doe terrible accents - I mostly enjoyed his not-quite-over-the-top narration that fits so well with the writing style of this classic space opera. I'm on my second listen-through of the series, and (again, other than the accents) am enjoying it greatly.
A fine story, full of action. Seems a bit cliched by today's standards, but of course it was groundbreaking for its time, and had a huge influence over the science fiction that followed. Characterization is a bit thin. A few too many shortcuts are taken on description - a lot of "ultra"s and "unimaginables" and "inconceivables" (I don't think that word means what he thinks it means), but overall, fun, and with a nicely credible villain who isn't an idiot.
The vocal performance of this book was OK, but not great. He stumbled over some of the more tortuous phrases, which was distracting, and the consistent cringeworthy mispronunciation of certain words (most notably "Aldebaran") was likewise distracting. I think it's important to read even technobabble smoothly, since the characters speaking it would presumably know what it means, even if the listener doesn't, A few of the character voices were a bit grating. Still, a decent job, and most of the time I didn't really think about the vocal performance, which is good.
Yes, as an introduction to the lensmen series. The language is dated and the prose is florid, but the series remains as one of if not the definitive golden age space operas. While the writing is getting more and more difficult for youngsters to understand, it's a good series for pre-teens. The characters are not exactly nuanced, and I find it hard to think of other stories with a more stark division between protagonists and antagonists as good versus evil. In comparison, the Harry Potter series is replete with moral ambiguity. Still, it's pulp and morality is as clear as the irresistable force of a duodec bomb. It's a rollicking story of the good guys versus the bad guys with the entire universe at stake.
I am not fit to answer this. Not because I can't, but I've read these stories since I was 9 or 10, and I am not even close to being able to be objective. I re-read all the books once every year or two, and it's like wearing a snuggie on a cold day while sipping tea. It's the scope, the lantern-jawed heroes, the eeeeevil bad guys that get theirs in the end.
Mr. McColm stumbled over a number of words. The prose isn't the easiest to read with all the run-ons, excessive adjectives, and general literary scene-chewing. However, some of the stumbles were on easy words.
The worst, as others have noted, is the voice he uses for VanBuskirk and all the valerians, apparently. Guys who are 6'8" and over 300 pounds should not be speaking in a weird falsetto. There are a lot of characters and a lot of aliens to give different voices, and Mr. McColm does a decent job most of the time. The Valerians, though, are a bad choice, and it does take fans of the series out of the story when they're around.
For the most part, the narration is servicable to good, and doesn't detract enough from the story to chase me away from the audiobook. There are times when I do shake my head, though.
Yes, but I am a huge fan of the series, so my opinion may be skewed. The action does flow pretty well, so there aren't huge sections of slow spots.
Galactic Patrol (and the rest of the Lensman series) is one of the classics of pulp Science-fi, which I have read many times and love. However, Reed McColm's narration is truly awful. I couldn't even make it past the third chapter, due to his absolutely dreadful Van Buskirk voice - how can a 400 lb Dutch Valerian warrior have a high, fluting voice? Skip the audio book and read the series instead.
"Don't listen to the foreword - it blabs the ending"
Great book, which I read decades ago when I was a teenager - a proper, old-school ripping yarn, very inventive. I thoroughly enjoyed this reading BUT!!! incredibly, there is a foreword that actually quotes the entire final para of the book so you know exactly how it ends. Unbelievable!
Being a talking book, it's hard to find the actual beginning of the book so you can skip this appalling foreword but the start is at 13 mins 30 secs. Go straight there!
Interesting article on Wikipedia about the author - a big surprise that he was a food engineer specialising in doughnut chemistry!
"Classic space opera"
Great in its own way. Does show age and narration a little stilted but great fun all the way !
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