[LMB] In defence of e e smith...

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Mon Jun 6 18:00:44 BST 2016

On Mon, June 6, 2016 8:28 am, catherine muir wrote:
> ...I  started a lensman re-read. Boy oh boy, is it of its time!
> However, despite the many flaws (the exclamation marks! The general
> super-duper indescribability of his action scenes!  The aliens who adapt
> to first contact without turning a tentacle/whisker/claw! And did I
> mention the exclamation marks!!?) there are pluses which I could wish
> were more widespread. For example,
> 1. He never confuses universe, galaxy and solar system.
> 2. No matter how purple the prose, he never misplaces a participle.
> 3. He never expects technology to stand still throughout the book.
> 4. No matter how superhuman the hero, there is nearly always something
>    another character does better.
> 5. The heroine, though gorgeous, is in no way just arm candy.
> 6. His explanations for FTL travel and other tech,
>    though specious, are sort of logical in their own terms.
> 7. He doesn't take  the technobabble too seriously  ("sub-ether...
>    Whatever that is... That's as good an explanation as any...")
> 8. He tells action adventure with considerable  mayhem, but never
> descends to torture porn.
> 9. Even the superbeings have limits.

11. The dei ex machina need the heroes (at least by the end of the

12.  The use of the word "scope" in several places.  Also the Arisians'
casual assumption (in Eukonidor's speech to the Eich, who live on a
cold gas giant somewhat like Neptune) that if they _really_ think
about mental power for a hundred orbits of their planet, they will
_begin_ to grasp that it is the only satisfying outlet for their
drive to power.

13.  Competent bad guys (mostly -- even Kinnison will later criticize
some Boskonians for not being as good as Helmuth.)

14.  There are other forms of struggle than warfare (yeah, there are
planet-busters, but there's the drug trade, there's rehabilitation of
planets and the Second Galaxy, there's the psychosis epidemics that
Kandron and one of the Ploorans cooked up...)

15.  Engineers get their just due, but so do strategists (Haynes teaching
Kinnison how to do the high executive job is worth a lesson or two).

16.  The invention of the Patrol's flagship, the _Directrix_, to coordinate
warfare on a really high level (a solution that would be specifically and
knowingly copied by the US Navy later on for its Combat Information

17.  The idea of a peaceful multiracial civilization.

18.  The Delgonian Overlords as a really good example of creepy horror
(and how to do torture without making it torture porn).

19.  Lots of good one-liners...

Tony Z

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