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[WIreR] E. E. Smith's Lensman series - Comentary, Discussion and a hypothetical modern adaption.

ru

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Not all such races, it may be said here, belonged to Boskonia. Many essentially similar ones, such as the natives of Palain VII, adhered to our culture from the very first. Indeed, it has been argued that sexual equality is the most important criterion of that which we know as Civilisation. But, since this is not a biological treatise, this point is merely mentioned, not discussed.
So, yeah. Doc Smith is obviously a man of his time, by I do give him props for trying to break the mold, even if it looks a bit.. quaint.. to us moderns.

That's said, there's some interest to be had in extrapolating from this point. If we assume that most cultures go through an "uncontacted" period before emerging onto the galactic scene, whether they're predisposed to discriminating against their own species could very much set the stage for how they're inclined to react to other species. The narrator might also be referring to more extreme forms of sexual dimorphism; non-civilisational aliens might have evolved with an intrinsic concept of something like ownership/slavery as the natural order of things for example, which could strongly influence their attitude to outsiders.

Now it's been made clear the Civilisation is accepting of other ethical codes in its members, but it's interesting that it's this one that they see as universal - something that could be boiled down to "thou shalt treat thy fellow sapients with respect as individuals", and people who don't hold to this standard, as evidenced by how they treat themselves, do not play well with others.
 

DaveEmpey

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Magazine differences:
Note: in the previous chapter of the magazine version, neither Clarrissa nor anyone else had yet suggested an Eich-Overlord alliance.

Clarrissa does not plot the likely point of intersection of the vanished Lyranians flight paths, or comment about lack of evidence of Eich. She simply ends her report with "I'm sorry that I couldn't get any real information; that this jumble is all that I could discover for you." She does not apologize for being neither complete nor conclusive.

The other L2's look this over, Nadreck compliments Clarrissa on a "right scholarly and highly informative bit of work", the other L2's tell each other how horrible it is, Kinnison (not Clarrissa) estimates where the flight paths intersect, he talks more about how Clarrissa should have hidden when he told her to, and not until then does Clarrissa gasp [sic] "You don't mean... why, it can't be... you're all thinking... Overlords!"

To backtrack a bit, the line about sexual equality amongst the Palainians, which is also present in the magazine version, seems oddly placed and worded to me. There's no context for talking about sexual equality around that sentence, but it's worded as if it were part of an extended discussion of the issue.

And yeah, Doc certainly became more aware on that issue. For an extreme example, compare the magazine version of The Skylark of Space with the book version. Supposedly Smith had Mrs. Lee Hawkins Garby write the romance, but, meaning no disrespect to Mrs. Garby, the romance in the magazine version is awful. The book treatment of the women characters, sexist as it is, is far superior.

Possible spoiler for First Lensman:
Spoiler: Show
regarding the appearance of Palainians, didn't FL give a more direct description?
 

Littleredfox

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That bolded bit - coupled with what D DaveEmpey posted about the evolution of Clarrissa's characterisation between the original magazine and later book versions...
And yet - the Lensmen are, as written, a boys-only club...
Which raises a couple of questions.

Which of the three Rigellian sexes is Tregonsee? Presumably Male, as part of the breeding plan. GURPS has both Neuters and Males being Lensmen (Which suggests that one of the two other Rigellian L2 candidates should actually have a lens at this point.). Also Rigellians choose their sex during puberty, which might have made Kreidigan's task harder.

Likewise Nadreck can't be one of the male palanian sexes since Sex ones (the prenuptial catalyst) are sessile. Presumably he's a three (the aggressive sex). GURPS notes that 2s (Shouldn't the Mother sex being lensmen be a give away?), 3s and 4s (Post nuptial catalysts) can be lensmen and that 1s could be if they weren't immobile. The Sex one L2 potential would of course make a better *A* than Kim ever would, plus that suggests the possibility of another two Palanian L2s running about in the background using Nadrek as a Front Eldritch Horror.

Worsel of course is male. Unless Kim was right when they first touched minds and she's female and it is the male Velantians that don't get lenses. GURPS mentions nothing about how many sexes Velantians have, or which one gets lenses, leading to an belief that they are not sexually dimorphic. Or that they are all hermaphrodites. GURPS makes the suggestion that the Velantians are the Arisian's preferred choice for L3.

Either way there should be at least a second equally potentially capable courageous psychic dragon around somewhere. Helen would probably rather deal with them than Clarissa who is in the middle of the uncanny valley as far as she's concerned. That would probably have exposed the Overlords a lot faster too.

And of course the conclusion that including Clarissa the Arisians have fully trained no more than half their L2 potentials that we know of.

I suspect the Lyranians cause a good bit of the argument in the bolded section. Helen did obliquely raise the idea of joining Civilisation and it isn't like their Boskonians are more of their society than Senator Morgan and his crew were on Tellus.
 

Nerik the Red

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Magazine differences:
Note: in the previous chapter of the magazine version, neither Clarrissa nor anyone else had yet suggested an Eich-Overlord alliance.

Clarrissa does not plot the likely point of intersection of the vanished Lyranians flight paths, or comment about lack of evidence of Eich. She simply ends her report with "I'm sorry that I couldn't get any real information; that this jumble is all that I could discover for you." She does not apologize for being neither complete nor conclusive.

The other L2's look this over, Nadreck compliments Clarrissa on a "right scholarly and highly informative bit of work", the other L2's tell each other how horrible it is, Kinnison (not Clarrissa) estimates where the flight paths intersect, he talks more about how Clarrissa should have hidden when he told her to, and not until then does Clarrissa gasp [sic] "You don't mean... why, it can't be... you're all thinking... Overlords!"

Interesting insight into how Clarrissa's characterisation evolved between the magazine and the book from meerly being aghast to actually unravelling the enemy operation. Thanks again for that.

To backtrack a bit, the line about sexual equality amongst the Palainians, which is also present in the magazine version, seems oddly placed and worded to me. There's no context for talking about sexual equality around that sentence, but it's worded as if it were part of an extended discussion of the issue.
This bit (for reference):
Second Stage Lensmen - page 129 said:
Not all such races, it may be said here, belonged to Boskonia. Many essentially similar ones, such as the natives of Palain VII, adhered to our culture from the very first. Indeed, it has been argued that sexual equality is the most important criterion of that which we know as Civilisation. But, since this is not a biological treatise, this point is merely mentioned, not discussed.
Yes, it is rather oddly placed, and rather implies that sexual inequality is the most important criterion for that which we know as Boksone.
If my memory serves, we will be returning to this in a later book.

Possible spoiler for First Lensman:
Spoiler: Show
regarding the appearance of Palainians, didn't FL give a more direct description?
Spoiler: Show
Dr. Smith makes a serious effort to describe something which he had listed as 'indescribable', yes.

Which raises a couple of questions.

Which of the three Rigellian sexes is Tregonsee? Presumably Male, as part of the breeding plan. GURPS has both Neuters and Males being Lensmen (Which suggests that one of the two other Rigellian L2 candidates should actually have a lens at this point.). Also Rigellians choose their sex during puberty, which might have made Kreidigan's task harder.

Likewise Nadreck can't be one of the male palanian sexes since Sex ones (the prenuptial catalyst) are sessile. Presumably he's a three (the aggressive sex). GURPS notes that 2s (Shouldn't the Mother sex being lensmen be a give away?), 3s and 4s (Post nuptial catalysts) can be lensmen and that 1s could be if they weren't immobile. The Sex one L2 potential would of course make a better *A* than Kim ever would, plus that suggests the possibility of another two Palanian L2s running about in the background using Nadrek as a Front Eldritch Horror.

Worsel of course is male. Unless Kim was right when they first touched minds and she's female and it is the male Velantians that don't get lenses. GURPS mentions nothing about how many sexes Velantians have, or which one gets lenses, leading to an belief that they are not sexually dimorphic. Or that they are all hermaphrodites. GURPS makes the suggestion that the Velantians are the Arisian's preferred choice for L3.
All very interesting, if, unfortunately, none of it comes from the books we've so far examined (or, if memory served, from any of Dr. Smiths books, I think we're into EU territory here).
Not that I necessarily disagree with any of this (though I'd have given Rigellians four sexes, or maybe eight bonus points if you understood that reference)

Either way there should be at least a second equally potentially capable courageous psychic dragon around somewhere. Helen would probably rather deal with them than Clarissa who is in the middle of the uncanny valley as far as she's concerned. That would probably have exposed the Overlords a lot faster too.
Kim did actually consider this plan, he rejected it as the Lyranians had had almost no contact with aliens. Another potential downside is that its possible that the Overlords would be more likely to spot a Velantian than a Tellurian (actually, from the Chapter below, it looks like it would have probably been ill-advised).
Also thinking about it, Clarrissa would have been more likely to blend in (even more so if she'd gone naked) ;).
OTOH, I personally headcanon that actually, yes, Helen finds the non-human Lensmen easier to relate to than the human ones (I think Helen would get on pretty well with Nadreck).
And of course the conclusion that including Clarissa the Arisians have fully trained no more than half their L2 potentials that we know of.

I suspect the Lyranians cause a good bit of the argument in the bolded section. Helen did obliquely raise the idea of joining Civilisation and it isn't like their Boskonians are more of their society than Senator Morgan and his crew were on Tellus.
...and we're getting ahead of ourselves again (by a couple of chapters).
The original preferred choice, until they noticed primitive humanity's shonen fighting manga drive.
Yup.

So, we continue...
...and get to see Kim make an ass of himself. :sneaky:

Chapter 12: Helen Goes North

We begin where we left off, discussing Clarrissa's horrific discovery.

Clarrissa complains that they're all assuming she'd pin-pointed the Overlord base, pointing out that she'd found no trace of Eich presence.
She'd expected more of an argument.
Kim: "No argument, You know how they work. They tune in on some one mind, the stronger and more vital the better."
He then ponders whether or not the Overlords had targeted Helen.
It turns out that most of the disappeared were 'upper-bracket minds'.

Clarrissa: "But that would be so obvious!"
Tregonsee: "It was not obvious, Clarrissa, until your work made it so: a task which, I would like to say here, could not have been accomplished by any other entity of Civilisation."
Clarrissa: "Thanks, Tregonsee. But they're smart enough to... you'd think they'd vary their technique, at least enough to get away from those dead straight lines."
Kim: "They probably can't, A racial trait, bred into 'em for ages. They've always worked that way; probably can't work any other way."
Kim: "...The Eich undoubtedly told 'em to lay off those orgies, but they probably couldn't do it—the vice is too habit-forming to break, would be my guess."

They all agree that its Overlords, and their next move is clear.

Both ships, Dauntless and 'Cartiff's unnamed stealth ship head north, cautiously with full thought-screens and baffled jets.
(In other words, full stealth mode, a Lensmen battleship can probably be quite sneaky if it wants to be).

Second Stage Lensmen - page 137 said:
Practically all of the crewmen of the Dauntless had seen Overlords in the substance; so far as is known they were the only human beings who had ever seen an Overlord and had lived to tell of it. Twenty two of their former fellows had seen Overlords and had died.
...It is easier to imagine, then, than to describe the emotion which seethed through the crew as the news flew around that the business next in order was the extirpation of a flock of Overlords.
Henderson wants to just bomb the bastards.
vanBuskirk wants to get up close and personal with his axe.
Kim: "Actually we want to catch some of them alive, so as to get some information..."
Kim: "...but you (vanBuskirk) and your boys will be good for that, too, so you might as well go and start getting them ready."

Kim consults his expert on all things Overlord (namely Worsel).
Kim: "What do you think, Worsel, is this hide-out of theirs heavily fortified, or just hidden?"
Worsel: "Hidden, I would say from what I know of them—well hidden,"
Worsel: "...Unless they have changed markedly; and, like you, I do not believe that a race so old can change that much.

The discussion turns to finding the location of the hidden base.
Worsel: "I could tune them in, but it might very well do more harm than good."
Kim: "Certain to, I'm afraid."
Second Stage Lensmen - page 138 said:
Kinnison knew as well as did Worsel that a Velantian was the tastiest dish which could be served up to any Overlord. Both knew also, however, the very real mental ability of the foe; knew that the Overlords would be sure to suspect that any Velantian so temptingly present upon Lyrane II must be there specifically for the detriment of the Delgonian race; knew that they would almost certainly refuse the proffered bait. And not only would they refuse to lead Worsel to their caverns, but in all probability they would cancel even their ordinary activities, thus making it impossible to find them at all, until they had learned definitely that the hook-bearing tid-bit and its accomplices had left the Lyranian solar system entirely.
(Relevant to our discussion above, it now looks like putting a Velantian Lensman on Lyrane would have actually been a rather bad idea).
Henderson: "Why don't we go back an grab a Lyranian to use as bait?"
Really Henderson?!!!
Kim, Worsel & Tregonsee: "No!"
Nadreck: "Might I offer a barely tenable suggestion?"
Kim: "I'll say you can—come in."
Nadreck: "Judging by the rate at which Lyranians have been vanishing of late, it would seem that we would not have to wait too long before another one comes hither under her own power. Since the despised ones will have captured her themselves, and themselves will have forced her to come to them, no suspicion will be or can be aroused."
Kim: "Sounds like a plan!"

They park their ship way up above Clarrissa's 'X-marks the spot', and put half the observers on searching for incoming planes, while the other half spy-ray the terrain looking for caves.

Tregonsee ponders just what information they are likely to obtain from the Overlords.
Was Illona's ship a one-off, or not.
Why did her ship land in the populated zone.
(My personal theory - the crew were bored and went 'off-book').
Were the other two ships coming to meet her, to meet each other? Were they called there by Illona's ship, for aid?
Nadreck: "One, but quite possibly not both,"
Nadreck: "We are agreed, I think, that the probability of a Boskonian connection is sufficiently large to warrant the taking of these Overlords alive in order to read their minds?"

It is the plane-spotters who hit the jackpot, as a plane is spotted approaching the area.
OOC: Technology Note: The Lyranian planes were described as 'biplanes and triplanes', so I originally pegged their tech level (or, at least, their aerospace prowess) at a early to mid twentieth-century level. However, this plane has flown all the way from the tropics to the polar region, without, apparently, re-fuelling.

As the Lyranian plane slowly flies towards its rendezvous with horror, the two starships slowly follow...
Worsel and Nadreck are both perfectly willing to sacrifice the occupant of the plane to the overlords, and that Kim and Tregonsee hadn't given that angle of their plan a single thought.
(This is not the L2's finest hour).
Fortunately, Clarrissa, who is in rapport with them, realises this, and steps in.
Clarrissa: "Surely, Kim, you don't have to let them kill her, do you? Isn't showing you the gate or whatever it is, enough?"
Clarrissa: "Can't you rig up something to do something with when she gets almost inside?"
Kim: "Why... uh... I s'pose so."
Kim... you dumbass!
Kim orders Henderson to ready the tractor beams.
(Ok, what would they do without Clarrissa?)

They watch in horror as the plane attempts to land on a distinctly cruel and unusual piece of geography.
Kim: "She can't land there,"
Kim: "and Overlords would want her alive, not dead... suppose I've been wrong all the time? Get ready, fellows!"
Kim: "Take her at the very last possible instant—before—she—crashes—NOW!"

Several things happen in quick succession...
The Lyranean plane nearly crashes into a rather rugged hillside.
...to be stopped by Dauntless' tractor beams.
...as the rugged hillside falls inward, revealing a hidden hanger!

Fortunately, Kim is now on his toes, as, compelled by the Overlords mental control, the Lyranian abandons their plane and jumps out...
...without a parachute!
...to be caught by Dauntless' tractor beams.

Clarrissa immediately recognises the hapless Lyranian.
It is, of course, Helen.
Clarrissa, again, takes charge.
Clarrissa: "The poor, poor thing, Bring her in at number six lock. I'll meet her there—you fellows keep clear. In the state she's in a shock—especially such a shock as seeing such a monstrous lot of males—would knock her off the beam, sure."

The book switches to Helen's point of view (and shows the horror of Overlord mind control).
Second Stage Lensmen - page 141 said:
Helen of Lyrane ceased struggling in the instant of being drawn through the thought-screen surrounding the Dauntless. She had not been unconscious at any time. She had known exactly what she had been doing; she had wanted intensely—such was the insidiously devastating power of the Delgonian mind—to do just that and nothing else. The falseness of values, the insensibility of motivation, simply could not register in her thoroughly suffused, completely blanketed mind. When the screen cut off the Overlord's control, however, thus restoring her own, the shock of realisation of what she had done—what she had been forced to do—struck her like a physical blow. Worse than a physical blow, for ordinary physical violence she could understand.
This mischance, however, she could not even begin to understand. It was utterly incomprehensible. She knew what had happened; she knew that her mind had been taken over by some monstrously alien, incredibly powerful mentality, for some purpose so obscure as to be entirely beyond her ken. To her narrow philosophy of existence, to her one-planet insularity of viewpoint and outlook, the very existence, anywhere, of such a mind with such a purpose was in simple fact impossible. For it actually to exist upon her own planet, Lyrane II, was sheerly, starkly unthinkable.
She did not recognise the Dauntless, of course. To her all space-ships were alike. They were all invading warships, full of enemies. All things and all beings originating elsewhere than upon Lyrane II were, perforce, enemies. Those outrageous males, the Tellurian Lensman and his cohorts, had pretended not to be inimical, as had the peculiar, white-swathed Tellurian near-person who had been worming itself into her confidence in order to study the disappearances; but she did not trust even them.
She now knew the manner of, if not the reason for, the vanishment of her fellow Lyranians. The tractors of the space-ship had saved her from whatever fate it was that impended. She did not, however, feel any thrill of gratitude. One enemy or another, what difference did it make? Therefore, as she went through the blocking screen and recovered control of her mind, she set herself to fight; to fight with every iota of her mighty mind and with every fibre of her lithe, hard-schooled, tigress' body. The air-lock doors opened and closed—she faced, not an armed and armoured male all set to slay, but the white-clad near-person whom she already knew better than she ever would know any other non-Lyranian.
Good call, Clarrissa!
(I repeat, what would they do without Clarrissa?)

Clarrissa is just glad they managed to save Helen, Helen is in no fit state to experience an unexpurgated Clarrissa...
Second Stage Lensmen - page 142 said:
"Oh, Helen!" the girl half sobbed, throwing both arms around the still-braced Chief Person. "I'm so glad that we got to you in time! And there will be no more disappearances, dear—the boys will see to that!"
Helen did not know, really, what disinterested friendship meant. Since the nurse had put her into a wide-open two-way, however, she knew beyond all possibility of doubt that these Tellurians wished her and all her kind well, not ill; and the shock of that knowledge, superimposed upon the other shocks which she had so recently undergone, was more than she could bear. For the first and only time in her hard, busy, purposeful life, Helen of Lyrane fainted; fainted dead away in the circle of the Earth-girl's arms.
The nurse knew that this was nothing serious; in fact, she was professionally quite in favor of it. Hence, instead of resuscitating the Lyranian, she swung the pliant body into a carry—as has been previously intimated, Clarrissa MacDougall was no more a weakling physically than she was mentally—and without waiting for orderlies and stretcher she bore it easily away to her own quarters.
Oh, and in case you missed the last bit, Clarrissa is strong.

Yeah, none of the 'boys' had a particularly good showing this chapter, OTOH, at least Tregonsee got to do something.

Next Chapter: Atrocity begets Atrocity, as we see the dark side of some of our characters. :eek:
...and we get a bit Yuri. :love:

Lensman Reference Page
 
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Lenin

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Yep, nurses need to be strong enough to man-handle unconscious patients, and tough enough to be on their feet continuously for back-to-back shifts if necessary. It is not a soft profession.
 

Fabius Maximus

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And I don't mind the fainting part. I mean, when you consider what overlords do to their victims, it's probably faint or go "completely round the bend hysterical."

I think there's a reason why there are two species that everyone agrees have to "not be" in the Lensmen universe--and Overlords are one of 'em.
 

Unka Josh

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Yep, nurses need to be strong enough to man-handle unconscious patients, and tough enough to be on their feet continuously for back-to-back shifts if necessary. It is not a soft profession.
I've talked about nurses elsewhere. Nurses are awesome. And I want them in my adventuring party to help looting the room.
 

Myth

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My Mum was a nurse.
Also, I messed up the quoting - hopefully fixed now.
My mom was a nurse, too. Also my dad’s mom, though nursing changed a lot in that one generation. My grandmother would have gotten along well with Clarissa.
 
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