First Lensman

E. E. "Doc" Smith
First Lensman Cover

First Lensman


Smith gives us a story about a culture and civilization challenged by corruption within and violent overthrow from without. Riding in to save the day are miraculous super-human militarists with hearts of gold and jawlines set in steel. They will overcome the most incomprehensibly daunting and dangerous opponents with their dedication, training and devotion to representative government.

The language is often overwrought, the belief in the uncorruptability of the military is naive, and the action carefully detailed in explicit terms. The author frequently addresses the reader directly, which breaks the flow of the story and makes it feel like a memoir.

Indeed, the first two chapters feel like a turgid preface that could have been shortened or integrated into the rest of the story. Otherwise, the story bangs along like a 1950's movie serial, with all the depth and nuance that implies.