As part of January’s YOBC, a short story by E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith was selected, but my library didn’t have it. However, they did have the audiobook Triplanetary, the first in the Lensman series. E. E. Smith is considered the father of the sub-genre space opera and this book definitely fits that definition.
Triplanetary starts off in early human history. As the reader, you are made aware of the two far-more-powerful alien races in the universe focusing on the humans. One keeps disrupting human development through time, setting back cultural and science growth. The other alien species is more benign, but is biding it’s time, working behind the scenes. The first six chapters of the book follow the parrying of these two higher powers with human historical points for back drop.
Then the reader is shot into the future, into a WWIII. Radar is still a big thing (please note this book was published in 1948). It was kind of cool to see what technologies were expected to stay the same and what was expected to change. Then pop forward again and humans have left the planet and colonized other planets in the solar system. And this is where we get to the meat of the space opera.
Our golden-haired hero is Conway Spud Costigan. His love interest is Cleo (did we ever learn her last name?), and the side kick and commanding officer is Bradley. These three end up going on a crazy adventure instigated by the unexpected bump into an unknown alien race (the fishes, which is the 3rd alien species the reader is introduced to). In typical style, the hero and his crew are captured, he must rescue, and re-rescue, his love Cleo, and save the galaxy after committing some alien species genocide.
While I can’t quite say that I enjoyed this book – male chauvinism, all the main human characters are white, aliens are to be reviled and made subservient or killed – I am glad I took the time to check it out. I can see how this story and the subsequent books in the series opened the door on this sub-genre. If you are interested in science fiction literature history, I recommend checking out some E. E. Smith.
This audiobook was read by Reed Malcolm for Books in Motion. I liked how it sounded like a one-man show. Every once in a while I could hear a sheet of paper turning or being put to the side. It kind of added to the 1948 feel.