I recently finished reading Gray Lensman by E. E. “Doc” Smith – the next book in the Lensman series. Like Galactic Patrol, this book focuses on Kimball Kinnison (the titular Gray Lensman), but I actually liked this one better than its predecessor, for reasons I will discuss after the fold.
First things first, Gray Lensman reminded me a lot of First Lensman in its style – there were a number of smaller well-contained, plots that all fit the arc of removing the Boskonians both from our galaxy as well as the newly discovered second galaxy (where, it is discovered, Boskone is really headquartered (or probably not)). This “narrative by way of smaller narratives” format really works for me; it feels like a collection of short stories while also being connected to a larger whole that you can see at work.
Another thing that Gray Lensman improved over Galactic Patrol was the main character – Kimball Kinnison. In Galactic Patrol, I found Kinnison a bit grating – he was a bit too cocky for me. In Gray Lensman though, he’s a bit more mature – he plans and thinks about the long game, and even though he’s still very bombastic, it’s not so grating.
While totally out in left field, this book also had some neat feats of tech. At one point, they built a sphere of antimatter roughly the mass of a planet… …And then rammed it into another planet, that was pretty cool. At another point, they took two planets and rammed them into a third in-between them – this was kindof a cool way to destroy a planet (and make a new planet with three times the mass).
Overall Gray Lensman was a pretty fun read, and a nice continuation of the Lensmen series. Each book demonstrates an increase in the technological level of the Galactic Patrol, and an escalation of the intellect of their enemies; but how they do it is always exciting.