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)
Hugely entertaining space opera. Another example of a series that I sometimes struggle to read coming alive through the spoken word. The corny dialogue, which had always put me off Smith, is transformed into 40s film noir banter when spoken aloud. Just imagine Kate Hepburn as the heroine and Bogart as Kinnison and the whole thing falls into place. My only gripe is the alien voices who uniformly sound like bad Dr Who characters - pompous and constipated.
I read these books when I was a teenager and thought them the best rip-roaring read I'd ever had. Now, 25 years on, they have dated even more than they had when I first read them. In the Lensman universe, high technology is all metal and machinery and you get a feeling that the smell of lubricating oil must pervade every spaceship's bridge.
That said, the scale of Doc Smith's imagination is second to none. I still want to meet an Arisian, to be Kimball Kinnison, to meet an auburn goddess and pile scorn on the Eddorians in the same way as I would boo and hiss at a pantomime. It's a man's universe that he conjures, of the Flash Gordon variety but without the high camp and I still love it.
The only thing that stops me from purchasing another book is the poor narration. Reed McColm is a master of 100 voices; unfortunately all of them his own. So, instead of adding to my enjoyment of the story with sharp vocal characterisation, his narration confuses me as I try to work out whether the character he's vocalising is Virgil Samms, Granite jawed hero of the Universe, or Clio, perpetually demur love interest and air head.
Please audible - a new narrator please.
I have loved tje lensman series for many years. it's lovely to be able to listen to it and share it with a younger generation.
Enjoyable but so very gungho! The optimism and matter of fact nature of the characters I found quite refreshing at first but it begins to pale. I suppose it is a product of it's time, and now dated all the same a Sci Fi classic
"Lensman Series is Still Fun"
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.
"Old Time Sci Fi at It's Best"
The book is the grandfather of all space operas. It's story that takes place over 2 billion years and has every you could want from and old time Sci Fi yarn.
It has bug eyes aliens, Ultra weapons, Ether shields and plenty of battles.
The story is a little unwieldy in spots, and takes a little preserverance, but is well worth it.
"A classic, but..."
The Lensman series is a classic, one of the founding cornerstones of space opera. The performance of the book was good, the voices distinguishable and interesting.
The one thing that did annoy me, however, was the 12-minute lecture before the book ever began, snootily informing the reader that the novel was written in an earlier era, that attitudes towards women, etc were different then and the book reflects that. Which would not have been so bad (it's certainly true) if it was not so worded as to sound so contemptuously dismissive of the author.
So, my recommendation is to skip the self-righteous moralizing at the beginning and jump forward 12 minutes or so to the actual story.
"One of my favorite books."
The reader was not great with alternate voices which made it a bit difficult to get into. But great space opera beginning.
"Better as an Audiobook"
I first read this book in High School many years ago. I haunted the Brooklyn Public Library until I read the entire series. This book is much better as an audio book. I re-read it about 10 years ago an found difficulty with the writing. As an audio book, Smith's stilted writing, especially about the emotions of the characters is not as bad. This story is all about the plot.
I have to disagree with those who feel the first three parts of this book should be skipped. I found it hard to stop listening when I had to. The semiautobiographical part of the third part is absolutely fascinating.
The Triplanetary part moves rapidly, and even though I knew what was coming, I was impatient for the next unfolding of the story.
Others have complained that the women in Smith's stories wait about to be rescued, like the typical shrinking violets of 19th century literature. There is some truth to this, but not as much as you might think.
In the Atlantis segment, Kinnexa was certainly not a shrinking violet but a highly competent secret agent, paramilitary type.
In the Triplanetary segment, Clio Marsden was indeed a woman needing to be rescued, but as soon as she had a gun in her hands, she was as deadly as the men.
These women were indeed not shrinking violets, just highly competent women who, when given a chance were just as competent as the men.
This book is not a paean to women's lib, but a very intense story in which women play a major, if secondary part.
I can recommend it to anyone who likes a good story and isn't concerned about the fact that this book is at least 50+ years old.
"Long time personal favorite."
Loved it. The Doc is classic, the whole lensman series; massive battle fleets evil villains and stalwart heroes.
"Historical Science Fiction"
The Lensman series is an important piece of historical science fiction. Many examples of modern day SF--from the epic Hyperion novels of Dan Smith to comics like the Green Lantern--pay homage, in part, to the Lensman series. Doctor Smith showed awesome imagination in his creation of the multiple races and worlds. I found it especially interesting to note that Triplanitary focuses on a racial breeding program that spans thousands of years. When considering this book was written in the 1930's, it is even more impressive.
When reading Triplanitary, it is important to remember that this book was written during a different era. Men and women have roles which tend to horrify a person raised in the 21st century. Furthermore, Doctor Smith's love story within the book seems somewhat contrived and childish. Time, too, is something Doctor Smith seems not to fully grasp. In the span of a few hours, his characters are able to construct massive space ships and discover here-to-for unknown technology.
Unfortunately, this audio book suffers most from a narrator that exaggerates the books weak love story. The narrator is adequate, but the characters he voices tend to sound the same and his women will make you cringe.
Again, this book is important as an example of the development of the science fiction Genre. Though it suffers from weak characters and an implausible timeline, it stands out for it's originality. Sadly, the narrator let's the story down perhaps further than what it deserves.
"Fantastic Science Fiction story"
Squeaky clean, upright, honorable heroes and really evil bad guys.
Excellent space battles, puts you right in the action.
The brilliance of Conway Costigan, fighting skills, and the Service's trinkets!
Reed is an excellent reader! No monotone here; you can hear the feelings of the characters.
Any moment when the hero acted or did just like any of us would love to have done.
"This is Space Opera"
While not the best of the series, it is still very good. The intro with the background to the series is sort of fun in the way it ties everything together...although you could almost just skip it until after you know what the series is about. A lot of adventure in this one, but the story is not quite as big in the sense of the larger epic saga that really characterizes the series as a whole.You must be a fan of space opera to really love this...many authors owe their existence to the Doc.The narration is appropriate to the type of material. I wouldn't have necessarily chosen the same accents, but it is effective in delineating the characters.
refer to works of ER Burroughs, E Moon.
Appropriately overly dramatic
"Classic Sci Fi, which is itself good and bad"
This is a very early example of scifi, and it was truly groundbreaking in it's day. The style of it however IS somewhat backward to the modern listener. To a modern listener it can sound a little clunky, characterizations are flat and all that sort of thing. But it was a trailblazer, and can be forgiven some of that due to it's age (this was written in 1934). The fact that it is "listenable" at all to modern audiences is a testament to the tale's quality.
It might not be good for every listener. Someone interested in sci fi, especially how things get from the rather basic stories of this era (of which this is a cut above, trust me there were a lot of these early tales that really stunk) to the more polished tales of the modern era. I'm finding Lensmen an overall good listen.
Concerning the Narrator: I rather like him, he has a lot of different characters to do and must have a pretty broad repertoire of voices. Although some listeners for this or some of the other books in this series have been critical, McColm has done a great job with some tough material (in the sheer number of characters alone).
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