Galactic Patrol

by E. E. "Doc" Smith
Series: Lensman 3
Reviewed date: 2006 Apr 8
Rating: 3
237 pages
cover art

Galactic Patrol is the third book in the Lensman series, and the first in the series proper--"Doc" Smith added Triplanetary and First Lensman to the series when the Lensman novels were published in book form. We are introduced to the hero of the series, Kimball Kinnison.

The forces of Civilization are under crippling attack from the forces of Boskonian space pirates, so newly-graduated Lensman Kim Kinnison is given a special assignment: capture an enemy spaceship, figure out their technology, and return that information to Prime Base. Kinnison is given command of the dreadnought Brittania, armed with the experimental Q-gun.

Using the Q-gun, Brittania captures a Boskonian vessel and learns the secrets of her technology--but at a great cost: Brittania herself is lost and the crew escapes in lifeboats, and the massed might of Boskone is called out in a galaxy-wide mission to prevent Kinnison from reaching his Prime Base with the information Brittania has learned. It is thus up to Kinnison, in a small barely-armed lifeboat, to fight his way through space, evade the forces of Boskone, and deliver the information that will save all of Civilization.

Some observations about Galactic Patrol:

  • Kinnison receives his Grays about halfway through the book.
  • Kinnison goes to Arisia for advanced training in this book.
  • Helmuth, speaker for Boskone, meets his end at the hands of Kinnison. Too bad he couldn't hang around for another book or two--he's one of my favorite Boskonians.
  • It's difficult to reconcile the way Kinnison orchestrates the surrender of the pirates at Boyssia with the rest of the series, in which the war between Boskone and Civilization is one of utter extermination with no quarter asked and none ever given. "Doc" Smith makes a brief note in Gray Lensman that the Boyssia incident is unique, but the entire episode still rings flat. Smith should have rewritten that section to keep in more in character with the rest of the series.

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