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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2009
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
The "Cosmos Books; Reprint edition" is not the same as any previous release I've owned. It opens with the Rodger the Space Private story and does not include any of the Arisia/Eddore series setup material. No Atlantis, no Rome, no WWI, II, or III.
Oddly the back cover suggests that all that material is included. Half the page count is some obscure Smith yarn called "Masters of Space".
Since I particularly like the early saga pieces, I am really ticked off.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
(This review refers to the volume copyright 2009 by Cosmos Books/Wildside Press; ISBN 978-0-8439-5949-9.)

I was born in the late 1970s, but I've always loved SF from earlier eras, such as early work by Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, etc. I've encountered many mention of the 'Lensmen' series, and had it on my list of 'classics' to check out. I'm quite capable of reading a classic piece in historical context -- I enjoyed "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", despite its somewhat dated style and science -- so I bought this book to get started with Lensmen.

I was quite confused when all the elements I'd read of -- Arisians, Eddorians, Boskone, even the Lensmen themselves -- were quite simply absent from this book. Was my memory wrong? Had I confused this story with something else?

No, it turns out, I was simply grossly misled by the publisher. This book doesn't contain any Lensman content, despite the claims on the cover. The first published Lensman story was "Galatic Patrol". "Triplanatary" was published prior to that, and originally had nothing to do with Lensman. After the success of the Lensman series, "Triplantary" was modifed to be connected to the Lensman world, apparently by prefixing and suffixing additional chapters. Those chapters ARE NOT PRESENT IN THIS BOOK.

The other story in this book, "Masters of Space", has apparently never had anything to do with 'Lensman', even retroactively. I can only assume it was just thrown in as padding.

The publisher flat-out lied. This is such a blatant misrepresentation I'm seriously intending to seek a return/refund on this book. I have purchased and own hundreds of books; this will be the first I've ever tried to return. Bad stories I've bought and kept; that's a risk associated with any book. This isn't a book I disliked; this is simply not the book the cover claims it is.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
If you're intending to read Doc Smith's classic "Lensman" series, then so you should; but you should definitely start, not with "Triplanetary", but with Galactic Patrol. Here's why.

Chronologically, the first Lensman story was Galactic Patrol, from Astounding magazine in 1937-38. This was followed by the next three stories: Gray Lensman,Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens. When publication in book form was mooted, Smith revised his earlier Triplanetary to fit into the lensman universe, and wrote First Lensman to form a bridge between that and "Galactic Patrol". Masters of the Vortex, another unrelated story, was likewise modified.

I, and many others it seems, feel that the four books representing Smith's original conception are the essential ones, and the others are disposable* ("Vortex", in particular, being a pot-boiler with virtually no relation to the others).

There's another problem with the books, although fortunately not an insuperable one. Smith's universe, although already huge at the outset of "Galactic Patrol", expands as the series progresses. Originally, the reader didn't discover the total significance of the struggles going on within it until the end of "Children". But the books (except, for some inscrutable reason, "Patrol") feature tacked-on and needless Forewords that give away the whole plot. I STRONGLY recommend first-time readers to skip these.

"Triplanetary" is not as good as "Patrol"; and if you start here you may be disappointed — possibly enough to stop reading! Neither is it "really" the first book. But most importantly, you'll run headfirst into plot-spoilers that wreck the tension of the story.

When you've finished "Children", by all means go back and read this.

*Although "First Lensman" certainly has entertaining moments (as when Virgil Samms is almost deafened at a Rigellian construction site, because the Rigellians have no sense of hearing and can't understand what the problem is).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite what the Amazon description says, the Kindle edition of _Triplanetary_ is *not* part of the Lensman series. It's the original magazine version, which may be a better place to start, but was _not_ part of the series (see the Wikipedia article on E.E. Smith, part of which I wrote). Both _Triplanetary_ and _Galactic Patrol_ were revised to make them consistent for the book versions.
From the sample and description, it looks to me like the Kindle edition is similar to the free Project Gutenberg edition, which I scanned; the cover picture seems to be a retouched photo of my copy of the magazine, with the same tear in the lower-left corner. They've corrected Gutenberg's spurious inter-paragraph line-breaks, though, which is an improvement. (I did the same thing for my Palm version, though I doubt Evergreen used that.)
Whether it's worth four dollars to avoid fixing the line-breaks in the free version is a decision I'll leave to the reader. It's an enjoyable early space opera; Dr. Smith was reported to have said of it that "scientific detail would not be bothered about, and ... his imagination would run riot." I don't recommend reading it until and unless you've read and enjoyed the Lensman series; but it's worth reading then. The Amazon description, however, does need to be corrected so that you know what you're getting.

Original Dead-Tree Review:

Don't start here; read _Galactic Patrol_ instead.

I'm very fond of the Lensman series, but (despite what publishers say), this is the wrong place to start. The Lensman series properly starts with _Galactic Patrol_, which I recommend heartily as classic space opera. The last part of this book was written before the Lensman series, is much weaker, and was only later reworked and supplemented to fit (awkwardly, in my opinion) into the series as a prequel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Lensmen series comprises the following books:

1 - Triplanetary
2 - First Lensman
3 - Galactic Patrol
4 - Gray Lensman
5 - Second-Stage Lensman
6 - Children of the Lens

Without exaggeration, the "Galactic Patrol" series is one of the greatest classic space epics ever written, it's one of the greatest archetypes of the genre as a whole, and virtually all of the modern masters of the genre have paid open homage to it.

Originally appearing as a series of pulps in "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine back in the 1930's & 1940's, and later re-published in 1948 with several new introductory chapters added to the front of Triplanetary (book 1), this series, along with the other great classics of the day (Flash Gordon, and John Carter of Mars) influenced an entire generation of readers, some of whom later went on to become Masters of the genre in their own right.

* The hit series Babylon 5, for instance, is a direct homage to the Galactic Patrol, and is very loosely based on it (re: Vorlons vs Shadows = Arisians vs Eddorians, Rangers = Galactic Patrol, etc.)
* Star Wars too, is an indirect homage to early Sci Fi pulp action tales like GP.
* Gene Roddenberry, in all probability drew deeply from this series for inspiration, when he created the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek.

Although few people seem to make mention of it today, the Galactic Patrol tales USED to be omnipresent back in the 50's - radio shows, product tie-ins, kids playing 'patrol' in their back yards, you name it. It was essentially the Star Wars of our parent's and grandparent's generation.

Galactic Patrol successfully combined the best aspects of several genres:

* ACTION/THRILLER: the heroes and villains alike are all 2-fisted hard charging lead-from-the-font types, and the pace of action is relentless.
* MELODRAMA: Classic period dialog, straight out of the 20's 30's & 40's. Perfect fodder from the golden age of radio ... chock full of exclamation marks and purple prose.
* EPIC/ADVENTURE: Wide eyed wonder on a grand scale, replete with hard science and bug-eyed monsters.

What more can you ask for ?

Sure, a lot of the science doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, and the male/female gender roles are a bit dated by today's standards, but who cares ? That's all part of it's charm. Besides, this is all about high drama, action adventure, and pure concentrated escapism. These are the sort of books you read when life has you down, and you need to get away from it all, to a world where the action is fast, the rewards are immediate, and where the good guys win in the end, against impossible odds.

Highly recommended.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read the lensman series as a young girl. My father was an avid science fiction reader and had the entire 6-book series, which I started to read in the early fifties. Back then, you didn't do book reports on science fiction books. They weren't considered "literature." Oh, the wasted time I spent on some of the books considered "appropriate" for a 10-year-old girl! I spent as much time as I could reading these wonderful lensmen books (as well as other great sci-fi writers). While the dialogue might seem old-fashioned today, the stories themselves are timeless. What a wonderful experience awaits the new reader!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
If you're intending to read Doc Smith's classic "Lensman" series, then so you should; but you should definitely start, not with "Triplanetary", but with Galactic Patrol. Here's why.

Chronologically, the first Lensman story was Galactic Patrol, from Astounding magazine in 1937-38. This was followed by the next three stories: Gray Lensman,Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens. When publication in book form was mooted, Smith revised his earlier Triplanetary to fit into the lensman universe, and wrote First Lensman to form a bridge between that and "Galactic Patrol". Masters of the Vortex, another unrelated story, was likewise modified.

I, and many others it seems, feel that the four books representing Smith's original conception are the essential ones, and the others are disposable* ("Vortex", in particular, being a pot-boiler with virtually no relation to the others).

There's another problem with the books, although fortunately not an insuperable one. Smith's universe, although already huge at the outset of "Galactic Patrol", expands as the series progresses. Originally, the reader didn't discover the total significance of the struggles going on within it until the end of "Children". But the books (except, for some inscrutable reason, "Patrol") feature tacked-on and needless Forewords that give away the whole plot. I STRONGLY recommend first-time readers to skip these.

"Triplanetary" is not as good as "Patrol"; and if you start here you may be disappointed - possibly enough to stop reading! Neither is it "really" the first book. But most importantly, you'll run headfirst into plot-spoilers that wreck the tension of the story.

When you've finished "Children", by all means go back and read this.

*Although "First Lensman" certainly has entertaining moments (as when Virgil Samms is almost deafened at a Rigellian construction site, because the Rigellians have no sense of hearing and can't understand what the problem is).
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most energe6tic books I have read. Yes, it is pure "pulp fiction" in the non-Quentin Terantino sense of the word, but it was a powerful page turner. Every page was super-charged, and every chapter left you wanting more!
E. E. "Doc" Smith is one of the giants of SF, and one of it's greatest popularizers. He doesn't have the finesse that Asimov of Heinlein. He doesn't have the aura of humor of Niven. Doc's strength is his raw energy. This book is like watching Yoda's fight with Count Dooku at double-time. He overwhelms at times..
Another one of Doc's strength is his mixture of science and gadgets. You are immediate placed in a world of sub-ether communicators, atomic weapons, tractor beams, spacer ships, space armor, and all the other props associated with old school SF. I now know where Roddenberry and Lucas got many of their terms and gadgets.
This tale is layered, and you can actually smell the intrigue and forces control other forces and nothing is what it seems. "Wheels within wheels" and "plots within plots within plots." At times it can be over complex.
Sometimes the action runs too fast, and I find myself panting for the characters. I realize this is pulp fiction, but I wish there was a bit more character development. At times it is almost a melodrama, or a morality play.
After reading the first chapter of the first book, I bought the rest of the series. I am excited to finish the series. I wish I had listened to my grandpa and read these books earlier.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This starts the Lensman series. Rather, it sets the stage, since the Lens hasn't actually appeared yet - but wait.

It has all the swashbuckling silliness you've come to know and love. It's filled with lines like:

"[she was] thrilled this time to the depths of her being by the sheer manhood of him ..."

Yes, that was meant seriously. Not to worry, though, this 1940s adventure story thrills her in a G-rated kind of way. Heck, I think that manly man in charge has spent his whole life swashing so many buckles that I'm not sure he's ever been on a date.

But, no matter, we have super-spaceships outdoing each other by the day, it seems, in a madly inflationary cycle. We have grey-skinned bad guys with mysterious connections to the Evil 77th-level Adepts of North Polar Jupiter. We have the mysterious, ugly, and funny-smelling beings from a distant sun who, in their transgalactic hunt for iron, decide that the easiest place to get it is from the structural steel of Pittsburgh, and from the red blood of its citizens. Fair's fair, so Our Hero destroys one of their cities to the last man (or whatever), woman, and child, plus part of another population center with poison gas. In the end, it was brusque apologies all around - no hard feelings, y'know, a man (or snake-necked, four-eyed fellow with tentacles) has gotta do what a man (or SNFEFwT) has gotta do.

This was written closer to the era of Flash Gordon than to the current day, by about a 3:1 margin, so it can only read as quaintly archaic. Laws of physics come and go at convenience, and relations between men and women hover between the neolithic and chivalric. Reading these books is a wonderful alternative to reading anything to think about.

//wiredweird
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Flash Gordon move over. Way back when the world was new, this was the book to read for space opera. In its time it rates five stars, at the millenium (oh, so its a year-and-a-half away, don't quibble!) it is definitely dated. We have men being real men and women being real women. We can depend on the "good guys" to take care of us. Shades of the Authoritarian Years, Batman! For those of you too young to remember Batman, the series, on TV (no not the cartoon!) I think you will find fainting femmes and trustworthy side-kicks a bit dated. Triplanetary seems to have been written to "set the stage" for the later books in the series - I'm not sure which was written first, chronologically, but it sure seems like a prequel. Now-a-days we expect a little sophistication, a little subtlety and a little less than perfection in our heroes and in our villians. If we agree that "Space Opera" need only describe a world where all the kids are above average, where there is just one "Good" and all the rest either "Evil" or lazy and/or ignorant then this is good "Space Opera". I recommend you read the second and third books in the series (First Lensman and Second Stage Lensman -if my memory has held up to these 3 decades) and then go back to this one. I loved this series and still do, but it is a creature of its author's time/worldview (mine too, I guess).
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