Since I received and published the interview transcripts from the late Nurse Matilda MacElroy, which I published in the non-fiction book Alien Interview, I have become a great fan of E. E. "Doc" Smith, (May 2, 1890 – August 31, 1965) an American science fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of "space opera".
After reading these two series of books, and a few others by the same writer, I can understand why Doc Smith was an influence of the iconic writers and film makers such as George Lucas, who reveals in his biography, that the Lensman novels were a major influence on his youth. And, J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the science fiction television series Babylon 5, also has acknowledged the influence of the Lensman books. Sir Arthur C. Clarke's space battle in Earthlight was based on the attack on the Mardonalian fortress in chapter seven of Skylark Three. Superman-creator Jerry Siegel was impressed, at an early age, with the optimistic vision of the future presented in Skylark of Space. Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment and Universal Studios are in negotiation with the Smith estate for an 18-month film rights option on the series.
In order to gain a greater understanding of his books, and the amazing science and philosophical points of view revealed by "The Master", Doc Smith, I thought it would be a good idea to read some of the books that influenced "The Master". Read the works of "The Master", but also read what "The Master" has read.
In his 1947 essay "The Epic of Space”, E.E. "Doc" Smith listed (by last name only) authors he enjoyed reading:
John W. Campbell, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert A. Heinlein, Murray Leinster, H. P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt (specifically The Ship of Ishtar, The Moon Pool, The Snake Mother, and Dwellers in the Mirage, as well as the character John Kenton), C.L. Moore (specifically Jirel of Joiry), Roman Frederick Starzl, John Taine, A.E. van Vogt, Stanley G. Weinbaum (specifically Tweerl), and Jack Williamson. In a passage on his preparation for writing the Lensman novels, he notes that Clinton Constantinescu's "War of the Universe" was not a masterpiece, but says that Starzl and Williamson were masters; this suggests that Starzl's Interplanetary Flying Patrol may have been an influence on Smith's Triplanetary Patrol, later the Galactic Patrol. The feeding of the Overlords of Delgon upon the life-force of their victims at the end of chapter five of Galactic Patrol seems a clear allusion to chapter twenty-nine of The Moon Pool; Merritt's account of the Taithu and the power of love in chapters twenty-nine and thirty-four also bear some resemblance to the end of Children of the Lens. Smith also mentions Edgar Rice Burroughs, complaining about loose ends at the end of one of his novels.
Smith's daughter, Verna, lists the following authors as visitors to the Smith household in her youth: Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Robert Heinlein, Dave Kyle, Bob Tucker, Williamson, Frederik Pohl, Merritt, and the Galactic Roamers. Smith cites Bigelow's Theoretical Chemistry–Fundamentals as a justification for the possibility of the inertialess drive. There is also an extended reference to Rudyard Kipling's "Ballad of Boh Da Thone” in Gray Lensman (chapter 22, "Regeneration,” in a conversation between Kinnison and MacDougall).
Sam Moskowitz's biographical essay on Smith in Seekers of Tomorrow states that he regularly read Argosy magazine, and everything by H.G. Wells,Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Moskowitz also notes that Smith's "reading enthusiasms included poetry, philosophy, ancient and medieval history, and all of English literature."
Mankind is only one SPECIES of life on Earth. According the leading "scientific authorities": ...the "estimated total number of species on Earth is 6.5 million species found on land, and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths. However, a study, published by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and cataloged."
If we do the math, we learn that 8.7 million is roughly 80% - 90% of ONE HUNDRED MILLION species on this planet. That's a LOT of life! How many even MORE bizarre life forms are as yet undiscovered? And how many more might there be living throughout the rest of our own galaxy? (I won't mention the whole universe....).
Many more imagined creatures are described in science fiction stories on other planets and galaxies. But, very few of these fictional "monstrosities" are as strange and bizarre at the real creatures that inhabit the microcosm on our own planet. Here are pictures of a few common insects viewed with the aid of an electron microscope. It is a challenge to imagine creatures more bizarre than these!
In my opinion, the most revolutionary, groundbreaking and classic series of Science Fiction books ever published are The Lensman series, a space opera serial written by Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith. All of the books in this profoundly important series are available in from Amazon.com (HERE) and the audiobook versions are available from Audible.com (HERE). If you are a fan of science fiction, or of spiritual phenomenon, these books are mandatory to your education, and insight.
Edward Elmer Smith Ph.D. (also E. E. Smith, E. E. "Doc" Smith, Doc Smith, "Skylark" Smith, or—to his family—Ted) (May 2, 1890 – August 31, 1965) was an American food engineer (specializing in doughnut and pastry mixes) and early science fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of space opera.
Robert A. Heinlein and Smith were friends. (Heinlein dedicated his 1958 novel Methuselah's Children "To Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.". Heinlein reported that E. E. Smith perhaps took his "unrealistic" heroes from life, citing as an example the extreme competence of the hero of Spacehounds of IPC. He reported that E. E. Smith was a large, blond, athletic, very intelligent, very gallant man, married to a remarkably beautiful, intelligent red-haired woman named MacDougal (thus perhaps the prototypes of 'Kimball Kinnison' and 'Clarissa MacDougal'). In Heinlein's essay, he reports that he began to suspect Smith might be a sort of "superman" when he asked Smith for help in purchasing a car. Smith tested the car by driving it on a back road at illegally high speeds with their heads pressed tightly against the roof columns to listen for chassis squeaks by bone conduction—a process apparently improvised on the spot.
In his non-series novels written after his professional retirement, Galaxy Primes, Subspace Explorers, and Subspace Encounter, E. E. Smith explores themes of telepathy and other mental abilities collectively called "psionics", and of the conflict between libertarian and socialistic/communistic influences in the colonization of other planets.
Originally, the series was published in magazines. The complete series in sequence and their original publication dates are:
- Triplanetary (1948. Originally published in four parts, January–April 1934, in Amazing Stories)
- First Lensman (1950, Fantasy Press)
- Galactic Patrol (1950. Originally published in six parts, September 1937 – February 1938, in Astounding Stories)
- Gray Lensman (1951. Originally published in four parts, October 1939 – January 1940, Astounding Stories)
- Second Stage Lensmen (1953. Originally published in four parts, November 1941 – February 1942, Astounding Stories)
- Children of the Lens (1954. Originally published in four parts, November 1947 – February 1948, Astounding Stories)
- And, a sequel, The Vortex Blaster (1960. Published with the title Masters of the Vortex in 1968)
Originally, the series consisted of the final four novels published between 1937 and 1948. Smith rewrote his 1934 story Triplanetary, originally published in Amazing Stories, to fit in with the Lensman series. First Lensman was written in 1950 to act as a link between Triplanetary and Galactic Patrol and finally, in the years up to 1954, Smith revised the rest of the series to remove inconsistencies between the original Lensman chronology and Triplanetary.
Smith expressed a preference for inventing fictional technologies that were not strictly impossible (so far as the science of the day was aware) but highly unlikely: "the more highly improbable a concept is—short of being contrary to mathematics whose fundamental operations involve no neglect of infinitesimals—the better I like it" was his phrase.
For more detailed information about The Lensman Series and other books by EE Smith, and about this truly amazing man, read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._E._Smith