• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

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

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Hmm. Boskone sexuality:

Spoiler: Show
The founding species is entirely asexual, so if inequality is a thing, maybe for once it's less about oppression and more about minimizing the role of sex, for the sensibilities of the Eddorians. I seem to recall something about the Lyranians being about as close to Eddorian mentality as a humanoid race could get.
 

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
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.
Hmm, good point. Could perhaps be a low-gravity planet, though; really big glider wing planes with a long cruising duration, like some of those hypothetical Mars designs.

Hmm. Boskone sexuality:

Spoiler: Show
The founding species is entirely asexual, so if inequality is a thing, maybe for once it's less about oppression and more about minimizing the role of sex, for the sensibilities of the Eddorians. I seem to recall something about the Lyranians being about as close to Eddorian mentality as a humanoid race could get.
Spoiler: Show
Interesting angle.

…and mirrors neatly with the way one can infer that human cultural protectiveness of women could be due to Arisian interference, in order to simplify their long-term breeding program.

Though it would also reflect the cultural difference between the Eddorians and the Arisians. The Eddorians want to alter others to put themselves in control; the Arisians relish chances to add less-predictable nuances to their Visualization of the Cosmic All.
 

PaulK

I am not a number! I am a
Validated User
Hmm. Boskone sexuality:
I think it has more to do with human sexuality. Men are generally better at bullying themselves to the top of the heap. Men at the top of the heap see access to young and attractive women as a perk of the position.

Boskone turns up, sees it. Thinks we can use that.
 

Nerik the Red

Registered User
Validated User
Hmm, good point. Could perhaps be a low-gravity planet, though; really big glider wing planes with a long cruising duration, like some of those hypothetical Mars designs.
On the other hand, Lyrane II was described as a near-twin of Tellus, and Dr. Smith makes no mention of reduced gravity.
I'm quite happy with Lyranian aerospace technology taking a slightly divergent route to that of Tellus - maybe their triplanes have presurised cabines and are powered by advanced turbo-props?
(Or something).
Spoiler: Show
Interesting angle.

…and mirrors neatly with the way one can infer that human cultural protectiveness of women could be due to Arisian interference, in order to simplify their long-term breeding program.

Though it would also reflect the cultural difference between the Eddorians and the Arisians. The Eddorians want to alter others to put themselves in control; the Arisians relish chances to add less-predictable nuances to their Visualization of the Cosmic All.
Spoiler: Show
I have had a thought about this, which I will try to remember to reveal when the time is right.

I think it has more to do with human sexuality. Men are generally better at bullying themselves to the top of the heap. Men at the top of the heap see access to young and attractive women as a perk of the position.

Boskone turns up, sees it. Thinks we can use that.
Spoiler: Show
This is pretty much exactly what happens, I will return to this subject, later.


Now, a warning:

As this chapter shows some of our favourite characters in a not very nice light.

Also, I might engage in some dubious humour.

Chapter 13: In the Cavern

While Clarrissa has been taking care of Helen, 'the more warlike forces of the Dauntless had not been idle', needle-ray men take out the mechanisms of the Overlord's hidden bases formally concealed doors.
Then Dauntless lands, adjacent to the entrance, incidentally flattening the formerly rocky terrain.
With beam batteries covering the entrance, and spy-rays searching for any back-doors (that Kim and Worsel are pretty sure not there), the forces of Civilisation sally forth.

Worsel might be just a bit too eager to get to grips with his ancient foe, as the book recounts the horrifying tale of what the Overlords were doing to the hapless Velantians.
Second Stage Lensmen - page 143 said:
Worsel himself had taken the lead in the clean-up of Delgon. He was afraid, of course. Any Velantian was and is frightened to the very center of his being by the mere thought of an Overlord. He cannot help it; it is in his heredity, bred into the innermost chemistry of his body; the cold grue of a thousand thousand fiendishly tortured ancestors simply will not be denied or cast aside.
Many of the monsters had succeeded in fleeing Delgon, of course. Some departed in the ships which had ferried their victims to the planet, some were removed to other solar systems by the Eich. The rest were slain; and as the knowledge that a Velantian
could kill an Overlord gained headway, the emotions toward the oppressors generated within minds such as the Velantians' became literally indescribable. Fear was there yet and in abundance--it simply could not be eradicated. Horror and revulsion. Sheer, burning hatred; and, more powerful than all, amounting almost to an obsession, a clamouring, shrieking, driving urge for revenge which was almost tangible. All these, and more, Worsel felt as he waited, twitching.
Worsel is accompanied by the Valerians, and the flanderisation of the latter is completed.
Second Stage Lensmen - page 144 said:
The Valerians wanted to go in because it meant a hand-to-hand fight. Fighting was their business, their sport, and their pleasure; they loved it for its own sweet sake, with a simple, wholehearted devotion. To die in combat was a Valerian soldier's natural and much-to-be-desired end; to die in any peaceful fashion was a disgrace and a calamity. They did and do go into battle with very much the same joyous abandon with which a sophomore goes to meet his date in Lover's Lane. And now, to make physical combat all the nicer and juicier, they carried semi-portable tractors and pressors, for the actual killing was not to take place until after the battle proper was over. Blasting the Overlords out of existence would have been simplicity itself; but they were not to die until after they had been forced to divulge whatever they might have of knowledge or of information.
Nadreck joins the party out of sheer curiosity.
Second Stage Lensmen - page 144 said:
Nadreck of Palain wanted to go in solely to increase his already vast store of knowledge. His thirst for facts was a purely scientific one; the fashion in which it was to be satisfied was the veriest, the most immaterial detail. Indeed, it is profoundly impossible to portray to any human intelligence the serene detachment, the utterly complete indifference to suffering exhibited by practically all of the frigid-blooded races, even those adherent to Civilisation, especially when the suffering is being done by an enemy. Nadreck did know, academically and in a philological sense, from his reading, the approximate significance of such words as "compunction", "sympathy", and "squeamishness"; but he would have been astounded beyond measure at any suggestion that they would apply to any such matter-of-fact business as the extraction of data from the mind of an Overlord of Delgon, no matter what might have to be done to the unfortunate victim in the process.
Tregonsee was there as well.
Finaly, Kim:
Second Stage Lensmen - page 145 said:
Kinnison went in because he felt that he had to. He knew full well that he was not going to get any kick at all out of what was going to happen. He was not going to like it, any part of it. Nor did he. In fact, he wanted to be sick—violently sick—before the business was well started. And Nadreck perceived his mental and physical distress.
Nadreck immediately falsifies the above description of him.
Second Stage Lensmen - page 145 said:
"Why stay, friend Kinnison, when your presence is not necessary?" he asked, with the slightly pleased, somewhat surprised, hellishly placid mental immobility which Kinnison was later to come to know so well. "Even though my powers are admittedly small, I feel eminently qualified to cope with such minor matters as the obtainment and the accurate transmittal of that which you wish to know. I cannot understand your emotions, but I realise fully that they are essential components of that which makes you what you fundamentally are. There can be no justification for your submitting yourself needlessly to such stresses, such psychic traumata."
If that isn't some form of sympathy...
Also, just that bolded bit...

Given an out, Kim and Tregonsee bottle it.

Dr. Smith pointedly glosses over the next bit.

The battle was hard, the Valerians taking several casualties, while Worsel himself suffered some pretty severe wounds.
Nadreck alone was left unscathed, largely because he took no part in the actual battle.
Nadreck: "I did not go in there to fight, but to learn."

What happened next was, as Dr. Smith put it 'infinitely worse'.

They have a collection of captured Overlords and a fully-stocked Overlord torture-screen.

Oh dear.

As I posted in the 'Great Quotes From The Wrong People II-Quote Harder' thread:
Worsel: "And, now Overlord, we will discuss the location of the hidden Eich base."
I'm now imagining Worsel in full mostache-twirling melodramatic villain mode.
...and since when has he had a moustache.

Nadreck is even worse!
...calmly, coldly, vivisecting his victims.

Kim is, understandably, freaked out.

I will point out that Dr. Smith shows distaste for his character's actions.

After it is finally all over, the ground party return to Dauntless, and the now-vacant Overlord base is thoroughly obliterated.

'Cartiff's heavily-armed "merchantman"' heads back to Tellus, while Dauntless has a much shorter trip, to drop Helen (and her plane) off at the Lyranian airport, before a rather longer trip to rendezvous with the fleet assembling in Rift 94.

Clarrissa has been keeping Helen 'blocked out' (probably telepathic sedation, the poor person's been through a lot).
Helen wishes to talk to Kim before she leaves.

And we get a description of Helen:

Second Stage Lensmen - page 146 said:
There stood the Lyranian queen; a full five inches taller than Clarissa's five feet six, a good thirty five pounds heavier than her not inconsiderable one hundred and forty five. Hard, fine, supple; erectly poised she stood there, an exquisitely beautiful statue of pale bronze, her flaming hair a gorgeous riot. Head held proudly high, she stared only slightly upward into the Earth-man's quiet, understanding eyes.
So, 5'11" tall, or 1.8 m, and 180lb, or 82 Kg.
So, Helen is pretty tall, and, as noted, Clarrissa carried her with ease.
(Also, Clarrissa has lost 0.5 lb in weight ;)).

Helen simply wants to say 'thank you', and has even figured out the whole Tellurian 'handshake' thing.

But Kim can see that Helen is pushing themselves beyond their own comfort zone.

Second Stage Lensmen - page 146 said:
"Uh-uh, Helen," Kinnison denied, gently, making no motion to grasp the proffered hand—which was promptly and enthusiastically withdrawn. "Nice, and it's really big of you, but don't strain yourself to like us men too much or too soon; you've got to get used to us gradually. We like you a lot, and we respect you even more, but we've been around and you haven't. You can't be feeling friendly enough yet to enjoy shaking hands with me—you certainly haven't got jets enough to swing that load—so this time we'll take the thought for the deed. Keep trying, though, Toots old girl, and you'll make it yet. In the meantime we're all pulling for you, and if you ever need any help, shoot us a call on the communicator we've put aboard your plane. Clear ether, ace!"
"Clear ether, MacDougall and Kinnison!" Helen's eyes were softer than either of the Tellurians had ever seen them before. "There is, I think, something of wisdom, of efficiency, in what you have said. It may be... that is, there is a possibility... you of Civilisation are, perhaps, persons—of a sort, that is,—after all. Thanks—
really thanks, I mean, this time—good-bye."
Helen's plane had already been unloaded. She disembarked and stood beside it; watching, with a peculiarly untranslatable expression, the huge cruiser until it was out of sight.
So Lyrane joining Civilisation is a distinct, if distant, possibility.

At this point Clarrissa starts waxing lyrical about Helen's beauty.
Clarrissa: "She's nice, really, when you get to know her. And she's so stunningly, so ravishingly beautiful!"
Kim's response can be summed up as; "Helen is scary."
Clarrissa: "Kim! Shame on you! Why, she's the most perfectly beautiful thing I ever saw in my whole life!"

Clarrissa :love: Helen?
(Ok, I think this ship is doomed)
Or is Clarrissa just fishing for compliments?

...which she gets, of course.

OOC: Given Boskone's obvious interest in the Lyrane system, I do wonder if Kim might have suggested to Helen that he'd really like permission to put an automated watch-sat in orbit, just in case, or something.


Shortly after Dauntless leaves Lyrane's atmosphere, Nadreck reports that he'd finished collating the acquired data.

Worsel, however, is still in surgery.

Kim knows that he has little to fear for the health of his friend, as Velantians are pretty tough, so contacts the ships doctor.

Kim: "'Smatter, Doc? Having trouble with your stitching?"
Doc: "I'll say we are! Have to bore holes with an electric drill and use linemen's pliers. Just about through now, though—he'll be with you in a couple of minutes,"
OOC: Damnit Kim! I'm a doctor, not a lineman!


Shortly afterwards a heavily bandaged and disturbingly contented Worsel joins the conference.

We get introduced to a new bit of tech, the Lensman's Projector, described as 'like a tri-di machine, but for thought'.
...and the concept of a Lensman's Seal, esentially 'this data may only be handled or viewed by Lensmen', once the current emergency has passed, copies would be distributed to the Central Libraries (Dr. Smith's capitals) and would be available to 'properly accredited students'.

Dr. Smith briefly inserts himself as 'your historian' to mentioned that this history was complied from records such as this.
Dr. Smith: "your historian is supremely proud that he was the first person other than a Lensman to be allowed to study a great deal of this priceless data."

The contents of the report come as a shock for those not involved in its creation (namely, Kim, Clarrissa and Tregonsee).

Lyrane II was the centre of a major Boskonian operation, of which Menjo Bleeko was only a very small cog.
Menjo himself has sent hundreds of expeditions... 'the affair of Illona and her escorts had been the veriest, the most trifling incident. '
OOC: But that 'trifling incident' happened in just the right way to lead Kim to Lyrane... more extremely subtle meddling by the Arisians?


But, as far as they were concerned, the Overlords were the top dogs, answerable to no-one.
Oh, they did co-operate with certain Eich operating out of a hidden base on Lyrane VIII, and to ease such 'co-operation' a hyper-spatial tube connected the two worlds.
Naturally, they knew nothing about the Second Galaxy.

Kim: "Hang on! I think the Overlords are being a bit self-delusional here. We found no records or plunder in that cavern, I'm pretty sure its all in the Eich base, so the Overlords were working for Eich, even if they didn't admit it to themselves."
Nadreck: "I and Worsel concur, we believe they were convincing themselves they were in charge to save face'.

The reason the Lyrane system was chosen for a base; while Lyrane II is a near-twin of Tellus, Lyrane VIII is a near-twin of lost Jarnevon!

Apparently having both in one system is rather rare.

Oh, and Lyrane II had the added bonus of providing the Overlords with prey!

There is much more in the report that our historian doesn't consider relevant, and so omits.

The five Lenspeople go into a mental huddle to pick apart the report...
Second Stage Lensmen - page 150 said:
Why was not Lyrane II defended? Worsel and Kinnison had already answered that one. Secretiveness and power of mind, not armament, had always been the natural defenses of all Overlords. Why hadn't the Eich interfered? That was easy, too. The Eich looked after themselves—if the Overlords couldn't, that was just too bad. The two ships that had come to aid and had remained to revenge had certainly not come from Eight—their crews had been oxygen-breathers. Probably a rendezvous—immaterial anyway. Why wasn't the whole solar system ringed with outposts and screens? Too obvious. Why hadn't the Dauntless been detected? Because of her nullifiers; and if she had been spotted by any short-range stuff she had been mistaken for another zwilnik ship. They hadn't detected anything out of the way on Eight because it hadn't occurred to anybody to swing an analyser toward that particular planet. If they did they'd find that Eight was defended plenty. Had the Eich had time to build defences? They must have had, or they wouldn't be there—they certainly were not taking that kind of chances. And by the way, hadn't they better do a bit of snooping around Eight before they went back to join the Z9M9Z and the Fleet? They had.
Dauntless, once again, bootlegger turns and heads back to the Lyrane system.
...this time being extra cautious!

And by extra cautious I mean that Kim instructs Henderson to plot a course that avoids Dauntless occluding any stars or nebulae!

Sneaking up to an Eich base is going to be no pick-nick!

Ok, the Eich are likely to have electromagnetic detectors on 500% overlap.
These can be circumvented by Kim's stealth speedster.
Kim's largely unarmed stealth speedster!

Then there are the bases thought-screens, and whatever other defences it most likely has.

Kim remembers the Jarnevon op.
...and figures Jarnevon was probably just on 'routine' security, while Lyrane VIII is probably on high alert.
Ifwhen he goes in, he's likely coming out feet-first, if at all.

...at which point Nadreck interjects.
Nadreck: "Excuse the interruption, please, but it would seem to appear more desirable, would it not, to induce the one of them possessing the most information to come out to us?"
Kim: "Huh? It would, of course—but how in all your purple hells do you figure on swinging that load?"
:cool:
Nadreck: "I am, as you know, a person of small ability," Also, I am of almost negligible mass and strength. Of what is known as bravery I have no trace—in fact, I have pondered long over that to me incomprehensible quality and have decided that it has no place in my scheme of existence. I have found it much more efficient to perform the necessary tasks in the easiest and safest possible manner, which is usually by means of stealth, deceit, indirection, and other cowardly artifices."
Kim: "Any of those, or all of them, would be QX with me Anything goes, with gusto and glee, as far as the Eich are concerned. What I don't see is how we can put it across."
Nadreck: "Thought-screens interfered so seriously with my methods of procedure, that I was forced to develop a means of puncturing them without upsetting their generators. The device is not generally known, you understand."
Kim and the others understood.

Nadreck requests that they armour up so that his 'special apparatus' can be transferred to Kim's stealth speedster.
It turns out the apparatus is, of course, non-ferrous, and Nadreck's own speedster is, baring a few minor details like the hyper-dimensional, ultra-frigid living quarters, a duplicate of Kim's.
At which point Kim wonders why they would bother moving the apparatus, why not just use Nadreck's ship?
Nadreck: "Because you didn't ask."
Nadreck: "The only reason for using your vessel is so that you will not suffer the discomfort of wearing armour."
Kim: "You've been wearing armour all the time you were with us—turn about for a while will be QX. Better that way, anyway, as this is very definitely your party, not ours. Not?"
Nadreck: "As you say; and with your permission, Also it may very well be that you will be able to suggest improvements in my device whereby its efficiency may be increased."
Kim: "I doubt it."
Second Stage Lensmen - page 152 said:
The Tellurian's already great respect for this retiring, soft-spoken, "cowardly" Lensman was increasing constantly.
Kim: "But we would like to study it, and perhaps copy it, if you so allow."
Nadreck: "Gladly"

Nadreck, Kim and Worsel embark in Nadreck's stealth-speedster (Clarrissa and Tregonsee did not insist on going).
...and the FX people now need to work out how to depict the interior of a ship built for a higher-dimensional being...
...as well as the aforementioned higher-dimensional being!

The small, nigh-imperceptible ship creeps towards Lyrane VIII, using all of the mental faculties and technological achievements of three second-stage Lensfolk to subtly breach the Eich's defences.

Second Stage Lensmen - page 153 said:
Slowly, furtively, a perfectly absorptive black body sinking through blackness so intense as to be almost palpable, the Palainian speedster settled downward toward the Boskonian fortress of Lyrane VIII.
To be continued...

Whew, Dr. Smith is not above some of his characters playing really nasty.

Also, this is one of the times when I get the impression that, at some level, Kim would rather not be here... but knows that he has to be.

Nadreck, despite the above, continues to be an utter joy!

Lensman Reference Page
 

Lenin

Tolerant Ent
Validated User
I always imagine the Palainians as being sorta like the Traders from GURPS Aliens:


and the giant space amoeba from Star Trek:



So, lots of seemingly unconnected bits (unconnected in our space, that is), phasing in and out of our space, growing from nothing to something and back again, semi-transparent with fluids flowing through and around. I typically imagine Nadreck in shades of blue and aquamarine, but looking at that amoeba and thinking that he's from a dimly-lit world, maybe he's like deep-sea fish and has bright colours when looked at in our light (or through image intensifiers or with Kim's colour 3D sense) with reflective flashing bits.
 

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I always imagine the Palainians as being sorta like the Traders from GURPS Aliens:

So, lots of seemingly unconnected bits (unconnected in our space, that is), phasing in and out of our space, growing from nothing to something and back again, semi-transparent with fluids flowing through and around. I typically imagine Nadreck in shades of blue and aquamarine, but looking at that amoeba and thinking that he's from a dimly-lit world, maybe he's like deep-sea fish and has bright colours when looked at in our light (or through image intensifiers or with Kim's colour 3D sense) with reflective flashing bits.
Me too! Though somehow I imagine Palainians being more angular than the Traders.
 
OOC: Given Boskone's obvious interest in the Lyrane system, I do wonder if Kim might have suggested to Helen that he'd really like permission to put an automated watch-sat in orbit, just in case, or something.
Does that sort of stuff exist in the Lensverse? I seem to remember an awful lot that seems like it should be automated being done by hand. Remember the race to see who can stay to press a button then sprint away? Whenever anyone wants to keep an eye on a world they always turn up themselves. Then again Helmuth's base was mostly automatic so arguably it should.
 

Nerik the Red

Registered User
Validated User
Does that sort of stuff exist in the Lensverse? I seem to remember an awful lot that seems like it should be automated being done by hand. Remember the race to see who can stay to press a button then sprint away? Whenever anyone wants to keep an eye on a world they always turn up themselves. Then again Helmuth's base was mostly automatic so arguably it should.
Well, earlier in this book they had semi-autonomous battleships, and it will later turn out that they had robots before Civilisation was formed.
OTOH, some of Smith's tech extrapolations have been a bit weird.
 
Well, earlier in this book they had semi-autonomous battleships, and it will later turn out that they had robots before Civilisation was formed.
OTOH, some of Smith's tech extrapolations have been a bit weird.
The robots I consider a blatant retcon. There is no way they exist in the world as depicted in the main four books.
 
Top Bottom