Though it’s been a while, I just finished Galactic Patrol by E. E. “Doc” Smith. This was another entertaining addition to the series, and definitely had some great moments. However, I didn’t think it was as good as First Lensman. That’s not the reason that it took me longer to read though – that was more that I have spent less time reading in the last month, primarily due to the copious holidays, and because of how much writing I did at the tail end of the year. At any rate, my discussion of the book, along with some minor spoilers, follows.
Where First Lensman had a multitude of characters that it followed, Galactic Patrol is all about Kimball Kinnison. Like his namesake, Kimball Kinnison is all action-hero – kicking butt, taking names, shooting first, and asking questions later. I think the story fit the character well, as there were plenty of opportunities where this approach benefited the plot well (especially when Kinnison tried this approach and got himself into trouble).
Aside from Kinnison’s bombastic nature, there were quite a few things that made Galactic Patrol a really fun read. One idea, in particular, that I really enjoyed reading about was the Patrol’s strategy for taking out the Boskonian ships. They designed two ship classes: one, a very fast, and very well defended cruiser, capable of locking down an enemy ship and preventing it from running or communicating; the other, a slower ship with the offensive capability to burn through their screens. The idea then is that the smaller ship would be able to (pardon the phrase) tackle an enemy ship and prevent them from running away or calling for help. Then, the larger ship would join the fray, disrupt the enemy’s power source, and turn it to slag. This idea was so cool to me because I’ve seen it used in the heavy interdictors and battleships of EVE Online – it’s fun to have it described somewhere else.
That brings me to the other thing that kept this book interesting – the difference in vocabulary compared to modern science fiction. Specifically, E. E. “Doc” Smith uses words like “screens” and “projectors” instead of “shields” and “lasers” or “blasters”. This sort of language may be a barrier for some, but for me, it was exciting and made the universe feel different than the one that I know from my other space sci-fi.
Overall, I enjoyed this volume of the Lensman series – it wasn’t as strong as First Lensman in my opinion, but it definitely had a strong dose of space adventure that I’ve been craving.