Gray Lensman, Best Novel 1941, Part 1 of 5

Here is the first of the five Best Novel 1941 Finalists. We will be presenting them in alphabetical order during this week.

Gray Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith

What are your thoughts on this novel? Likes and dislikes? Does it deserve the Hugo?

2 thoughts on “Gray Lensman, Best Novel 1941, Part 1 of 5”

  1. I read the Lensman books as a happy unsophisticated young teenager and loved them. It’s safe to say that more mature examination lets me recognize some flaws… but I’ve still got a fair amount of affection for them!

    This is probably the best of the bunch – after the series had hit its stride, but before the strain started to show as Smith struggled to outdo himself with bigger and louder spectacles every time. It’s gleefully unabashed gosh-wow stuff, with spaceships zooming between galaxies, planets being blasted to smithereens, and more freaky aliens than you can shake a stick at.

    It doesn’t, of course, stand up to any serious analysis. From the casual sexism to the even more casual acceptance of genocide, there’s a lot to make one raise one’s eyebrows at this one…. the episodic plot doesn’t always make a great deal of sense… and Smith’s frenzied over-description is (to put it mildly) not to everyone’s taste.

    But it has vigor, in bucketloads, and it’s packed with incident, and if you consider it purely as simple-minded entertainment, with unrelievedly wicked villains and stout-hearted heroes, it’s still a lot of fun.


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