Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
053 Triplanetary (The Lensman Series Book 1) by E. E. "Doc" Smith
This is the second version of E. E. Smith's _Triplanetary_. The
first version, originally serialized in the 1930s, did not tie into
Smith's "Lensman" series. For this revision, he wrote some
introductory chapters narating the clash of Arisa and Eddore since
the long ago collision of two galaxies up to the point where the
novel originally started. He also lightly edited the novel to make
clear that while everybody assumed the villian was just a space
pirate (as he legitimately was in the first version), he was really
an agent of Eddore posing as a space pirate.
Both the original version and this revised version are available
on Project Gutenberg for free.
As for the book itself, this is a classic space opera, from the
author who practically created the genre. Don't expect deep
characterization here or modern attitudes, but the story moves right
To my mind, an interesting aspect of _Triplanetary_ and FL (and to a lesser degree the whole series, but it's most visible in _Triplanetary_) is the almost Lovecraftian overtones of the setting and series.
I didn't perceive this when I first read the series ( read in it in order from _Triplanetary_ to _Children of the Lens_, except that I read _Second Stage Lensman_ after Children) as a mid-teen. Rereading as an adult, I could see it, though.
From the POV of a normal, ordinary L0 mind on Earth, Velantia, etc., if they knew about the L3 races, would likely see _both_ the Eddorians and the Arisians as demonic. It's all very well that the Arisians have the long-term good of the various _species_ in mind, but that's thin consolation to an Atlantean watching the world crash back to the Bronze Age, an 20C Tellurian watching nuclear bombs burn the cities, a Roman enduring Nero, or a Velantian in the claws of the Delgonians.
From their perspective, if they knew the truth, it would appear that the Universe was ruled by two races of gods, one incomparably malevolent and one callously indifferent. The Arisians are not, in fact, actually indifferent, but it would certainly look that way from far below.