Children of the Lens

(or The Boskonian War is over.)

I’ve now completed Children of the Lens, and I must admit to really enjoying the ride.  This book focuses on Kimball and Clarissa Kinnison’s five children, one boy and two pairs of twin girls, as they figure out how to complete the true objective of the Galactic Patrol – to take out the Eddorans.

Some spoilers and my thoughts after the jump.

The structure of Children of the Lens is a bit odd, as you have to hold two conflicting beliefs in mind at the same time.  First, you have to keep in mind the belief of the Children of the Lens, that Eddore is the source of Boskone and that they can be destroyed only by supreme mental force.  Also, they must ensure the rest of the Galactic Patrol doesn’t know about Eddore.  Then, you have to keep in mind the belief of the Galactic Patrol, that Ploor is the top of the Boskonian ladder and that they can be destroyed by physical force.  This leads to some odd conversations and doublespeak, as well as some odd things people think they have to do.

In thinking about the escalation of destruction between the Boskonians and Civilization, I can’t help but think about all the weapons the Galactic Patrol has developed over the course of the series.  The first one that comes to mind is the negasphere – a sphere of anti-matter with the mass of a planet, which they propel towards a planet, and just wait for the two to annihilate each other (in the literal sense).  Then, they weaponize the ability to make a planet intertialess and pull it out of its orbit, only to release it, at its previous velocity, such that it will impact a target object.  In the case of what happens at the end of Gray Lensman, they release two planets ,at approximately equal but opposite velocities, with the target planet between them.  This destroys all three, and creates a new planet with three times the mass.  Then there’s the solar laser, which I can’t help but think of as a giant magnifying glass, melting space ships to slag at the beginning of Second Stage Lensmen.  Finally, in Children of the Lens, they travel to another dimension where faster-than-light speeds are possible, accelerate two planets to 15x the speed of light, then drop them into our dimension right on top of the planet of Ploor and its sun.  Smith doesn’t describe the destruction a lot in this case, except to say that Ploor and the surrounding fleet effectively ceased to be.

The mental battle of Eddor was less explosive, but had more of the feel of a mental fencing match.  Each side had their defenses and attacks, and how each worked was interesting and different.  This, really, was the payoff I was hoping for, and was really engaging and a good read.

Overall, I really liked Children of the Lens, and the Chronicles of the Lensmen as a whole.  It gets a definite recommendation for anyone who is interested in classic space opera with all the over-the-top science that comes with it.

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