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.
Read this series of books 40 years ago,they were a classic then as they are now. Good story line if not a bit dated, well narrated.
Damsels in distress, who will save the galaxy type story. Uncomplicated single story line without trying to create a literary masterpiece.
I recommend the series.
Kimball Kinnision is a Lensman---one of the elite who bears the Lens which grants great mental powers to the Jedi Knight who carries it...
OK, yes, there are huge parallels between the Lensmen and Star Wars' Jedi Knights. Keep in mind, however, that Galactic Patrol predated Star Wars by a good 4 decades. These ideas were really original when E.E. "Doc" Smith wrote them, even if they have been imitated many times since then.
This is classic Space Opera. The Galactic Patrol is up against the pirates of Boskone, and Kinnision---a freshly graduated Lensman---is given a tricky assignment to obtain the pirates' technology and, eventually, break the hold of Boskone. Along the way, he meets aliens (both hostile and friendly), strange planets, attractive females and Helmuth...Helmuth speaks for Boskone.
If you are looking for pure adventure-oriented escapism in a sci-fi setting, you've found it. The writing is a bit stiff and pretentious, but it's a fun story. If you are looking for depth to the characters or subtle narrative, look elsewhere.
Reed McColm's reading is OK; he doesn't add much but doesn't hurt the story, either.
"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!
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