Children of the Lens

by E. E. "Doc" Smith
Series: Lensman 6
Reviewed date: 2006 Apr 14
Rating: 3
254 pages
cover art

Twenty years have passed since the Galactic Patrol destroyed the military power of Boskonia and captured the planet Thrale. The years have been peaceful. Now there are a series of isolated incidents on seemingly random planets that lead Coordinator Kinnison to think that Boskonia is back.

He is right. Not only is Boskonia back, Boskonia is more powerful and better organized. Kinnison and the other second stage Lensmen get to work, but Boskonia is prepared for them: the Lensmen are stymied at each turn by a series of traps laid for them by enemies whose minds are every bit as powerful as the Lensmen themselves.

It is Kinnison's children who must fight Boskonia and break its power once and for all by destroying the Eddorians. The five children--Christopher (Kit), Kathryn (Kat), Karen (Kay), Camilla (Cam), and Constance (Con)--possess third-level minds. Only they, with help from the Arisians, have the mental power to destroy the Eddorians.

The five children, by the way, have undifferentiated characters. The four girls are indistinguishable, and Kit is a carbon copy of his father. In fact, most characters in the Lensman series are the same. There is the hero (Kinnison, Samms, Constigan, van Buskirk, etc.), the strong woman (Clio, Jill, Clarrissa), and the coldly calculating evil Boskonian (Helmuth, Jalte, the Eich.) The only truly unique characters are Worsel (who is ruthless and loves to fight), and Nadreck (who is emotionless and lazy in a good way--he never does anything the hard way if it can be helped.)

One item of interest that shows how Civilization is an ideal human society is the quality its politicians. The politicians of other societies are generally reviled. For example, on Lyrane:

"Politicians only," Helen reported. "They need killing, of course, on general principles, but perhaps we shouldn't take time for that now."

But the politicians of Civilization are selfless, tireless servants of the people. For example, consider this discussion between the Lensman Gerrond and President Thompson of Radelix. Radelix--like several other planets--has been under attack by some mysterious Boskonian influence. Thompson asks what he can do to help the Galactic Patrol capture the Boskonians.

"What can I, personally, do?"
"Much. The last act at Antigan IV, the thing that made it a planet of maniacs, was the kidnaping of Planetary President Renwood. Murdered, supposedly, since no trace of him has been found."
"Oh." The older man's hands clenched, then loosened. "I am willing . . . provided . . . is Kinnison fairly certain that my death will enable him . . ."

President Thompson is the kind of politician people deserve but so rarely get in reality.

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