First Lensman

First Lensman is a science fiction novel and space opera by American author E. E. Smith. It was first published in 1950 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 5,995 copies. Although it is the second novel in the Lensman series, it was the sixth written. The novel chronicles the founding of the Galactic Patrol by Virgil Samms, the first sentient being in our cosmos to wear the "Lens", a unique badge of authority which is actually a form of "pseudo-life" that grants telepathic powers to the defenders of Civilization.

First Lensman
First lensman
Dust-jacket from the first edition
AuthorEdward E. Smith, Ph.D.
IllustratorA. J. Donnell
Cover artistA. J. Donnell
CountryUnited States
SeriesLensman series
GenreScience fiction
PublisherFantasy Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Preceded byTriplanetary 
Followed byGalactic Patrol 

Plot synopsis

First Lensman picks up more or less where Triplanetary left off. The story follows the doings of the "First Lensman" Virgil Samms. The Arisians know that he is incorruptible, a paragon of bravery and virtue, so they have chosen him to be the first entity to wear the "Lens of Civilization".

Samms has a dream. He wants to establish the Galactic Patrol to protect civilization from the forces of evil for which he needs to have a reliable (unfakeable) symbol to identify its members. He is guided by one of his trusted subordinates to Arisia, a previously unapproachable planet, where he is greeted by a benevolent and telepathic Arisian who presents him with a "Lens". The Lens is a device that can only be made by the Arisians and that can be worn only by the person that it is exclusively attuned to. It gives its wearer the ability to communicate telepathically with any being or animal with a mind, as well as other powers. The Lens underlies all the remaining stories in the series. Samms is charged with locating all "Lens worthy" individuals and directing them to Arisia to have their own Lens bestowed upon them.

Once he has a cadre of Lensmen available to defend civilization, Samms uses them to begin tracing leads to the major threats to civilization. Corrupt politicians, illegal drugs, and pirates attacking merchant ships in space. To fight the crooked politics all they can do for the moment is gather evidence and hold it until the campaign and elections. The leads to the pirates hit a blank wall and stall (for now). Combating the drug traffickers yields the most success. Breaking the drug smuggling turns out to be the key to getting a handle on all the other threats. As the Lensmen trace the trade in "thionite", a mind-altering drug, from the source to the end user, they find the different leads all coming together, and all leading straight to the corrupt political machine that was then running North America.

While following the leads, the Lensmen visit alien planets and encounter bizarre life forms (and attempt to recruit representative members of as many species as possible as Lensmen). They build a fleet uniting all the continental fleets of Tellus (Earth) into the “Grand Fleet of the Galactic Patrol”, and engage in a massive space battle in defense of their headquarters, “The Hill”. The upper levels of the Patrol are starting to realise that the beings that they have been calling pirates are actually members of another civilization, a civilization at least as big and as powerful as that of the Galactic Patrol. Having beaten off the pirate fleet attacking The Hill, it was time to cut off the head of the dragon by defeating the corrupt political machine in the next election.

The second half of the book tells of a North American presidential election fought by the officers of the Triplanetary Service (as 'Cosmocrats') to elect Roderick Kinnison North American President, and the crooked political machine (as 'Nationalist') to keep the corrupt incumbent in office. After a knock down, drag out fight between the two parties, another battle in space even bigger than the first, and the release of all the evidence of corruption gathered and held on to before, the Cosmocrats win the crucial election. The continuation of the Galactic Patrol and the safety of Civilization are secured.


  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923–1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 237.
  • Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984–1998)". Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1978). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 397. ISBN 0-911682-22-8.
  • Ellik, Ron and Bill Evans (1966). The Universes of E.E. Smith. Chicago: Advent:Publishers. ISBN 0-911682-03-1.

External links

Chesuncook Lake

Chesuncook Lake is a reservoir in the North Maine Woods and Piscataquis County, Maine. It is formed by the damming of the West Branch Penobscot River, by dams built in 1835, 1903, and 1916. It is approximately 22 miles (35 km) long and 1–4 miles wide, with a surface area of 25,183 acres (101.91 km2) and a maximum depth of 150 feet (46 m). It is the third-largest body of fresh water in Maine.The lake was named "goose place" by combining the call of the Canada goose schunk with auke (the Abenaki word for place) to form Chesuncook. Henry David Thoreau visited Chesuncook (village) and lake in 1853 and wrote about its beginnings in his book "The Maine Woods" Chesuncook Part 4; 'Ansell Smith's the oldest and principal clearing about this lake,...' Thoreau observed no geese on the lake during his visit.The original lake was enlarged by construction of Ripogenus Dam in 1916 to cover Ripogenus Lake, Caribou Lake, and Moose Pond. The enlarged lake became less suitable for Lake trout because of fluctuating reservoir levels for generating hydroelectricity.The lake is on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

E. E. Smith

Edward Elmer Smith (May 2, 1890 – August 31, 1965), better known by his pen name E. E. "Doc" Smith, was an American food engineer (specializing in doughnut and pastry mixes) and science-fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of space opera.

E. E. Smith bibliography

This is complete bibliography by American space opera author E. E. Smith.

Because he died in 1965, the works of E.E. Smith are now public domain in countries where the term of copyright lasts 50 years after the death of the author, or less; generally this does not include works first published posthumously. Works first published before 1923, are also public domain in the United States. Additionally, a number of the author's works have become public domain in the United States due to non-renewal of copyright.

Fantasy Press

Fantasy Press was an American publishing house specialising in fantasy and science fiction titles. Established in 1946 by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach in Reading, Pennsylvania, it was most notable for publishing the works of authors such as Robert A. Heinlein and E. E. Smith. One of its more notable offerings was the Lensman series.

Among its books was Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing (1947), which was the first book about modern SF and contained essays by John W. Campbell, Jr., Robert A. Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt and others.

Galactic Patrol

The Galactic Patrol was an intergalactic organization in the Lensman science fiction series written by E. E. Smith. It was also the title of the third book in the series.

Galactic Patrol (novel)

Galactic Patrol is a science fiction novel by American author E. E. Smith. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding in 1937. The stories in this volume were the first parts written of the original Lensman saga. It was later published in book form in 1950 by Fantasy Press. Although portions of Triplanetary were written earlier, they were not originally part of the Lensman story and were only later revised to connect them to the rest of the series. First Lensman was written later to bridge the events in Triplanetary to those in Galactic Patrol.

Gharlane of Eddore (character)

Gharlane of Eddore was a character in the ret-con version of Doc Smith's Lensman novels, Master Number Two of the Innermost Circle of the All-Highest of Eddore. Gharlane was the Eddorian responsible for inhibiting/halting the Arisian-directed progress on the planets Sol III, Velantia III, Rigel IV, and Palain VII. While his modes of operation on Rigel IV and Palain VII were never described, his work on Velantia III was based on the introduction of the Overlords of Delgon on Velantia IIOn Sol III/Tellus/Earth, Gharlane usually operated by activating various humans who were positioned to interfere directly with the progress of civilization. He acted as Lo Sung of Uighar, the leader of one of the nations in conflict with Atlantis, and initiated the nuclear exchange which destroyed Atlantis. He activated the Roman Emperor Nero. As well as Lo Sung and Nero, in the encounter between Drounli/Bergenholm and Gharlane at the beginning of "First Lensman" Drounli names Gharlane as the activator of these humans: Mithridates of Pontus, Sulla, Marius, Hannibal of Carthage, Alcixerxes of Greece, Menocoptes of Egypt, Genghis Khan, Attila, the Kaiser, Mussolini, Hitler and the Tyrant of Asia. Smith implies that he was active during the period of the three World Wars, and that when he left Earth after the Third World War, he had created the Adepts of North Polar Jupiter to assure the continued inhibition of the humanity of Sol III. After his return to the Sol system centuries later, activating the human form of flesh known as Gray Roger, he was the Chief Devil of the Adepts of North Polar Jupiter and an alumnus of Harvard.Gharlane attempted to destroy the Arisian-activated human form known as Nels Bergenholm, but was blocked by Drounli the Moulder, one of the four Arisians comprising the fusion known to Civilisation as Mentor of Arisia, in the first overt action taken by the Arisians in their aeon-long conflict with Eddore.Gharlane passed into the next plane of existence after a mental battle with Kimball Kinnison and Mentor of Arisia aboard the Thrallian flagship during the Battle of Klovia, while activating the Thrallian human form of flesh known as Prime Minister Fossten.

Hugo Award for Best Novel

The Hugo Award for Best Novel is one of the Hugo Awards given each year for science fiction or fantasy stories published or translated into English during the previous calendar year. The novel award is available for works of fiction of 40,000 words or more; awards are also given out in the short story, novelette, and novella categories. The Hugo Awards have been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing".The Hugo Award for Best Novel has been awarded annually by the World Science Fiction Society since 1953, except in 1954 and 1957. In addition to the regular Hugo awards, beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for 50, 75, or 100 years prior. Retro Hugos may only be awarded for years in which a World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, was hosted, but no awards were originally given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been given for novels for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. The novels on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of stories that can be nominated. The 1953, 1955, and 1958 awards did not include any recognition of runner-up novels, but since 1959 all final candidates have been recorded. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held in August or early September, and are held in a different city around the world each year.During the 70 nomination years, 145 authors have had works nominated; 48 of these have won, including co-authors, ties, and Retro Hugos. One translator has been noted along with the author whose works he translated. Robert A. Heinlein has received the most Hugos for Best Novel as well as the most nominations, with six wins (including two Retro Hugos) and twelve nominations. Lois McMaster Bujold has received four Hugos on ten nominations; the only other authors to win more than twice are Isaac Asimov (including one Retro Hugo), N. K. Jemisin, Connie Willis, and Vernor Vinge, who have each won three times. Nine other authors have won the award twice. The next-most nominations by a winning author are held by Robert J. Sawyer and Larry Niven, who have been nominated nine and eight times, respectively, and each have only won once, while Robert Silverberg has the greatest number of nominations without winning at nine. Three authors have won the award in consecutive years: Orson Scott Card (1986, 1987), Lois McMaster Bujold (1991, 1992), and N. K. Jemisin (2016, 2017, and 2018).

Lensman (disambiguation)

Lensman is a science fiction book series by Edward Elmer Smith.

First Lensman, the second novel of the series, published in 1950

Gray Lensman, the fourth book in the series, published in 1951Lensman may also refer to:

Lensman: Secret of The Lens, an anime movie based on the Lensman novels

Galactic Patrol Lensman, an anime television series based on the Lensman novels

Backstage Lensman, a short story parody of the Lensman series by Randall Garrett, first written in 1949

Lensman microscope, designed by Rick Dickinson

Lensman (game), a game based on the Lensman novels

Lensman series

The Lensman series is a series of science fiction novels by American author Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith. It was a runner-up for the 1966 Hugo award for Best All-Time Series (the winner was the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov).

List of American novelists

This is a list of novelists from the United States, listed with titles of a major work for each.

This is not intended to be a list of every American (born U.S. citizen, naturalized citizen, or long-time resident alien) who has published a novel. (For the purposes of this article, novel is defined as an extended work of fiction. This definition is loosely interpreted to include novellas, novelettes, and books of interconnected short stories.) Novelists on this list have achieved a notability that exceeds merely having been published. The writers on the current list fall into one or more of the following categories:

All American novelists who have articles in Wikipedia should be on this list, and even if they do not clearly meet any other criteria they should not be removed until the article itself is removed.

Winner of a major literary prize, even if the winning work was a story collection rather than a novel: The Pulitzer Prize, The PEN American Center Book Awards, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Orange Prize, and some others. (Note: The only Pulitzer winner for Fiction not on the list is James Alan McPherson, who has never published a novel.)

Having a substantial body of work, widely respected and reviewed in major publications, and perhaps often nominated or a finalist for major awards.

A pioneering literary figure, possibly for the style or substance of their entire body of work, or for a single novel that was a notable "first" of some kind in U.S. literary history.

Had several massive bestsellers, or even just one huge seller that has entered the cultural lexicon (Grace Metalious and Peyton Place, for example).

A leading figure—especially award-winning, and with crossover appeal to mainstream readers, reviewers, and scholars—in a major genre or subcategory of fiction: Romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, western, young adult fiction, regional or "local color" fiction, proletarian fiction, etc.

List of fictional presidents of the United States (K–M)

The following is a list of fictional United States presidents, K through M.

List of science fiction novels

This is a list of science fiction novels, novel series, and collections of linked short stories. It includes modern novels, as well as novels written before the term "science fiction" was in common use. This list includes novels not marketed as SF but still considered to be substantially science fiction in content by some critics, such as Nineteen Eighty Four. As such, it is an inclusive list, not an exclusive list based on other factors such as level of notability or literary quality. Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, ignoring the leading articles "A", "An", and "The". Novel series are alphabetical by author-designated name or, if there is none, the title of the first novel in the series or some other reasonable designation.

Pluto in fiction

Pluto has been featured in many instances of science fiction and popular culture. Initially classified as a planet upon its discovery in 1930, Pluto has also received considerable publicity following a 2006 definition of planet decree (which reclassified it as a dwarf planet) and from the flyby of the New Horizons space probe in July 2015.

Space marine

The space marine, an archetype of military science fiction, is a kind of soldier that operates in outer space or on alien worlds. Historical marines fulfill multiple roles: ship defence, landing parties, and general-purpose high-mobility land deployments that operate within a fixed distance of shore. By analogy, hypothetical space marines would defend spaceships, land on planets and moons, and satisfy rapid-deployment needs throughout space.

The History of Civilization

The History of Civilization is a boxed set of science fiction novels by author Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.. It contains the six novels of Smith's Lensman series. The set was published in 1961 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 75 copies. Each volume was printed from the original Fantasy Press plates, but with a new title page giving the name of the set. They were bound in red half-leather, numbered and signed by Smith.

Triplanetary (novel)

Triplanetary is a science fiction novel and space opera by American writer E. E. Smith. It was first serialized in the magazine Amazing Stories in 1934. After the original four novels of the Lensman series were published, Smith expanded and reworked Triplanetary into the first of two prequels for the series. The expanded Triplanetary was published in book form in 1948 by Fantasy Press. The second prequel, First Lensman, was a new original novel published in 1950 by Fantasy Press.

The novel covers several episodes in an eons-long human breeding project by the super-intelligences of the Arisians. This alien race is breeding two genetic lines to become the ultimate weapon in Arisia's cosmic war with their arch-enemies, the Eddorians. The initial chapters cover the Kinnison genetic line during the fall of Atlantis and Nero's reign in Rome. These tales were inserted into the novel following the serialized release, along with chapters covering members of the Kinnison line in World Wars One, Two, and Three.

The final chapter of Triplanetary tells of the discovery of the inertialess drive that allows faster-than-light travel. Patrolman Conway Costigan and his friends engage in a space battle with Gray Roger the pirate gangster. This conflict is complicated by the arrival of the technologically superior, extra-Solar, amphibian-like Nevians, resulting in the first interstellar war involving humans. In this story Virgil Samms and Roderick Kinnison, important members of the two breeding lines, are introduced.

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