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Summary

In the not-too-distant future, while fleets of commercial space ships travel between the planets of numerous solar systems, a traveler named Virgil Samms visits the planet Arisia. There, he becomes the first wearer of the Lens, the almost-living symbol of the forces of law and order. As the first Lensman, Samms helps to form the Galactic Patrol, a battalion of Lensmen who are larger-than-life heroes. These soldiers are the best of the best, with incredible skill, stealth, and drive. They are dedicated and incorruptible fighters who are willing to die to protect the universe from the most horrific threat it has ever known.
Hi-fi sci-fi: listen to more in the Lensman series.
©2006 Books in Motion. This recording is produced by arrangement with The Estate of E. E. "Doc" Smith and Virginia Kidd, Inc. (P)2006 Books in Motion. This recording is produced by arrangement with The Estate of E. E. "Doc" Smith and Virginia Kidd, Inc.

Critic reviews

"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)

What listeners say about First Lensman

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Classic Sci-Fi ruined by poor narration

Would you try another book written by E. E. 'Doc' Smith or narrated by Reed McColm?

A classic series of class Sci Fi books ruined by poor narration and interpretation

Would you be willing to try another one of Reed McColm’s performances?

No, he's terrible

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Just awful!

As a lover of Isaac Asimovs paperback books, I was absolutely appalled to listen to this Audiobook, the narration is without a doubt the most awful I have listened to, very sad as I know the paperbacks are wonderful.



Such a disappointment :-(

2 people found this helpful

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The narrator's not getting any better

Listening on 1.25 speed helps, but the airy-fairy floaty mental voices are beyond redemption. Someone must have told him the books are a space opera, because he started giving opera-like intonation to the aliens. It was tentative at first, then he got carried away and actually started singing and really enjoying himself. It was at this point that I was faced with a dilemma. Should I put up with the narration for the sake of the story, or return the book and end my suffering? My fifty year devotion to the Lensmen won. Laughing at the narration works for me for now, but some parts of this story are very dark and I am not looking forward to his attempts at those.

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er...well...read the originals, but

now don't get me wrong, but the narration needs some working on, at least! and I appreciate classic early science fiction, and have always liked the Lensmen series, but somehow the narration really, really let's it down.
pity

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Brilliantly read and an invigorating narrative.

I read this book 30+ years ago and the narrator has dramatised this in a way that take's you to the action.

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  • DJM
  • 18-03-09

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.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bert
  • 07-09-07

The beginning

As with any series, the first isn't the best, but this is classic sci-fi. It formed some of the beginning basis for my appreciation for fiction, and will always be awesome to me! The space-opera may be hard to get used to for young readers, but the Lensmen rule! This book is worth it for credit or cash!

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Don
  • 08-04-11

Annoying narration

I give this audio book three stars because the story is good. However, this is the most annoying narration I have ever heard. This could be a good series but I will not listen to another by this narrator. Perhaps it is an aquired taste...

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey C. Coyne
  • 12-04-11

No Doubt a Classic

The narrator has no concept of the era or the language. The accents and characterizations are nothing short of insulting. For its vintage, the story and the science were entertaining. Listening to this book is rather like trying to enjoy an early sci-fi movie with a damaged sound track.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jared Kuhn
  • 25-10-20

Golden Age Sci-Fi at Its Best

This book and Triplanetary are to the Lensman Series what the Hobbit is to The Lord of the Rings. They are prequels with compelling stories and interesting characters, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you read these after the main series (in my opinion).

Definitely though, Galactic Patrol and onwards are non-stop action fests, whereas Triplanetary and First Lensman are a little more thoughtful and slower. So if these don't grab you, don't miss out on the rest of the series because of it.

Also a warning to modern audiences: some things are going to be *jarringly* out of sync with what we perceive in sci-fi today. You have to understand it as coming from the 30's and 40's, otherwise you're going to be between bothered and outright offended at the way some characters (such as the women especially, but also any minorities that happen to come up) are portrayed. Don't let that distract your from the story. As Disney likes to say, it was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

But the story itself is still something to spark the imagination, and this is the space opera that started them all. There is still much of value to learn about the influence this series had on much of sci-fi to come for the following century.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 17-09-18

A Rare Gem A Heinlein Favorite

I read or listen to this series almost every year. And while it is a poduct of 50's sensibilities it is one of the greatest sci-fi opuses ever done.

Smith was a friend of Heinlein and Heinlein loved this series as well. Refer to Number of the Beast and his autobiographical work.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian Dembkoski
  • 21-02-18

Good story, bad narration.

Just what it says on the tin... the narration by Reed McColm got downright grating at times. His voice for the main character was an impression of an old newsreel announcer stereotype. The. entire. time. (I know the story was written in the 40s, but it’s a good thing to inject some modern realism into the performance) If your voicing the character whom we are primarily following, it’s best to use your normal voice, not an outlandish character voice.

And the voice choices for some of the aliens... I’d have preferred a simple change of attitude in the voice. The Palanians were for some reason “singing”... and it was more distracting than anything. I know he’s trying to differentiate the races and characters... but come on. And the voice of what is the main villain, Gharlane of Eddore, was so stereotypically “eeevil”, being slow and sniveling... seems more at place in a cartoon.

I’m disappointed that his narration is really my only choice if I stick with the audiobooks... because while I’m excited for the story, sitting through two books of this so far is not making me itching to start the third right away.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pete
  • 04-12-16

Pure escapism at its 1940s best

slow start but a wonderful listen in the 1940s style of sci-fi. looking forward to the other 4 books

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jseojai
  • 07-10-20

Still the best, even after all these years,

The first time I read this was a little over 50 years ago and it still has the ability to capture my imagination so fully. One of the best SF stories (series) ever.....

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave Rea
  • 10-02-19

terrible narration, very nasal voice. poor dialogue that does not stand the test of time