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Given all the re-do, plastic, unimaginative film we see these days (hey, let's remake the Poseidon adventure and the In Laws?) -- it makes one wonder why these books aren't being perused for a movie. We have had great sucess recently in the Lord of the Rings, the X-Men and other Marvel comics. This story should be done as a first-time movie.
These books are fast-paced, way ahead of their time, and like nothing that has ever been done to date. That's right: Star Trek (all flavors), Babylon 5, Farscape, meet the Lensman series by E.E. Doc Smith. This epic is on an inter-galactic scale using a means of propulsion never seen before. The weapons and energies used (sun-beams, black holes, free motion planets, hyper spatial tubes) make everything we've seen look like tinker toys.
The writing was so advanced, you can barely notice the dated view of the sexes (after all, it IS pre-war) but a little modern rewriting will get around it with no effort at all.
So, say you read it before it gets to the screen. I read these as a 12 year old in the 60's, and I've had a copy of them ever since. I leant them to a friend.... I am so glad they are back in print.
Imagine an advanced human, space-faring civilization where there are no computers. Imagine a world where everything was larger than life, the good guys wear white and the bad guys are sufficently dastardly to deserve a hearty "booooo!" in the cinema. Imagine a world where anything is achievable with suitable will of men. Picture exploration, daring, immense battles between the forces of good and evil. EE "Doc" Smith did and wrote an incredible series of tales about it.
About the idea for a film - There is nothing wrong with having male heroes. It has happened in the past you know. Macho females are not an absolute necessity for a film. Also, the story line is about a breeding line that converges through history until Kimball Kinnison and his lady come along, the culmination of countless generations of planned evolution to counter the threat of the Eich. It would stretch suspension of belief well and truely beyond the already nonsensical sight of pint sized females beating up on huge guys twice their size. That's not sexist so don't, please, advocate a total re-write just for the unnecessary sake of 'modern thinking' (if people don't understand how things work today then they're already in trouble, I'd have thought! Leave well enough alone).
Change this and you change the entire story. Please, don't let political correctness alter the stories beyond recognition!
I'll agree absolutely that it is long past time that these incredible stories were made into the film they rightfully deserve - and I don't mean the feeble, forgettable effort that was made with animation (sorry, to those who worked on it - it just wasn't an adult's as opposed to adult entertainment). Why not - just for the sake of story integrity if nothing else, do the film if ever according to Doc Smith's vision rather than according to a non-entity of a censor who believes he/she knows what is best for the rest of us.
Smith's love of superlatives grates on occasion, but the basic storyline spans all of creation.
Two races, one altruistic and nurturing, one despotic and manipulative, have the briefest of encounters. The "good" race (the Arisians) determines almost immediately that they will never be able to best the "bad" race (the Eddorians) in any contest of force or will and, after masking the memory of the encounter in the mind of the representative of the lone Eddorian encountered, embarkes on a mind-blowingly long program to develop a race who can do so in their stead.
The first three books (not as written, but chronologically according to the storyline - Triplanetary was an afterthough in the series) presented here contain what I consider to be some of the most fun parts of the series as, particularly the last book (Children of the Lens - not part of this collection), seems to suffer pacing problems.
Four races are selected as candidates for the final attack on the Eddorians, these books concentrate almost exclusively on humanity, although the other races are encountered and the primary representatives of the penultimate breeding lines are introduced.
Much of this work is quite dated and there is a queasy sort of racism underlaying Smith's insistance that white, blue-eyed, apparently Aryan men represent the pinnacle of human genetic strength. There is an overt sexism in that (at least in the first three books) there are no female lensmen, by design.
But, along with James Blish (see "Cities in Flight" with particular emphasis on his use of fields for both protection and propulsion), Smith pretty much gave birth to the modern space-based Science Fiction series with these books.
If you can get past the datedness of the material, it's both a fun read and an important one.
I have read every one of the Lensmen series books and find them to be the best in science fiction. Best of all, according to IMDB, Ron Howard has a movie in the works for release hopefully in 2011. Keep your fingers crossed.