Friday, September 21, 2007

Galactic Patrol

Haven't you been wondering what's been going on in the world of the Lensmen? Thanks to the lovely choo, I've just finished the the third book in the series by E. E. "Doc" Smith, Galactic Patrol (1937). This was originally the first book in the series, so it makes sense that things really start getting interesting here. And yes, the cover can be believed, there are a lot of spaceships and not a few space pirates.

Here we follow the swift career rise of Kim Kinnison from his graduation at the top of his class for the Galactic Patrol and the receipt of his Lens, to his captaining of a cutting edge ship that leads to the the capture of pirate/bad guy plans, to his promotion to "Gray Lensman" -- a coveted classification giving him a blank check to do what he thinks needs to be done to fight the bad guys and promote the cause of Civilization.

Kinnison's main foe in Galactic Patrol is the unidentified "Boskone," head of the space pirates that are terrorizing inter-galactic space commerce and civilized planets everywhere. The novel takes our hero through a series of exciting quests and adventures that culminate in a battle with the big guy himself. And just guess which side wins.

As in the other books, Smith is at his best when describing strange new worlds and the beings that inhabit them. The guy can also write a very engaging space battle, and the action sequences are top-notch. We don't get any romantic interest until about halfway through the book when, laid up with a battle injury, Kinnison meets a firey, sexy, smart, red-headed and brave nurse named Clarissa MacDougall. Naturally they hate each other at first...

But just tell that to the doctor and Kinnison's commander, who, in a really odd scene, play matchmaker based on the quality of the couple's skeletons:

"First, just notice that skeleton. It is really remarkable. Slightly out of true here and there right now, of course, but I believe it's going to turn out to be the first absolutely perfect male skeleton I have ever seen. That young man will go far..."

"...I want the files on his nurses, particularly the red-headed one."

"I suspected you would, so I had them sent down... Here are her pictures, conventional and x-ray. Man, look at that skeleton! Beautiful! The only really perfect skeleton I ever saw in a woman..."

Do I hear wedding bells?

[Back cover on my copy is available here. Other nice covers are here.]

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