HOW MANY BOOKS ARE IN THE "LENSMAN" SERIES?Originally, the "Lensman" saga was specifically designed as a 400,000-word novel, to be broken into FOUR segments. Smith knew exactly where he was going with the four books, had a complete outline, and actually wrote the ending of the fourth book before he began work on the first one. EES submitted his detailed 85-page outline, as long as some short novels, to F. Orlin Tremaine, the editor of "ASTOUNDING," in early 1937. Just prior to his departure from the editorial helm, Tremaine committed "ASTOUNDING" to buying and printing the entire package. (The new editor was John W. Campbell, Jr. who would use the impetus of stories by Smith, Heinlein, and Van Vogt to drive "ASTOUNDING" to the forefront of the field and keep it there for the next three decades.) The FOUR lensman novels of the basic series are:
"GALACTIC PATROL," serialized in "ASTOUNDING," Sep '37 - Feb '38; 1st book, Fantasy Press hardbound, 1950; "GRAY LENSMAN," serialized in "ASTOUNDING," Oct '39 - Jan '40; 1st book, Fantasy Press hardbound, 1951; "SECOND-STAGE LENSMEN," serialized in "ASTOUNDING," Nov '41 - Feb '42; 1st book, Fantasy Press hardbound, 1953; and "CHILDREN OF THE LENS," serialized in "ASTOUNDING," Nov '47 - Feb '48. 1st book, Fantasy Press hardbound, 1954.
--With the exception of the dustjacket for "GRAY LENSMAN, the book dustjackets and interior illustrations are credited to Ric Binkley, strongly derived from earlier "ASTOUNDING" artwork, primarily that of Charles Schneeman and Hubert Rogers. The "GRAY LENSMAN" dustjacket is a version of Hubert Rogers' cover painting from the October '39 "ASTOUNDING."
It should be noted that there are textual differences between the serialized versions and the hardbacks; in the magazine versions, the Evil Eddorians aren't even known to exist until the last book. In fact, at the end of "SECOND-STAGE LENSMEN," EES uses such a hoary old plot device to end the book that some of his fans were more than a little put out. EES was concerned over this, even in his original outline, because he knew he needed a strong "phony ending" for a break between SSL and COTL, while the Children grew to maturity, and he couldn't come up with one that he really liked. When Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, the owner of Fantasy Press, set up his deal with EES to publish the four books in hardbound, he came up with the entrepreneurial inspiration of conning EES into rewriting an earlier book, "TRIPLANETARY," to fit into the "Lensmen" universe; and writing a "bridge" novel, "FIRST LENSMAN," to connect it onto the beginning of the series. ( The earlier, *non*-"Lensman" version of "TRIPLANETARY" had appeared in "AMAZING" magazine, Jan '34 - Apr '34.) Since Fantasy Press printings of EES' other novels were already selling like hotcakes on a cold morning during the potato famine, Eshbach had no trouble marketing two "new" EES books as an introduction to the main "Lensman" series. This is why there are SIX books in the post-1950, post-Eshbach, series, and why the first book is so unlike the rest in style and content. Those "first" two FP "Lensman" books are:
"TRIPLANETARY," Fantasy Press hardbound, 1948; and "FIRST LENSMAN," Fantasy Press hardbound, 1950. --Dustjacket paintings and interior illustrations are credited to A.J. Donnell. ( In 1954, Fantasy Press ran off 75 boxed, leather-bound sets of the six books, and marketed them under the title "THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION." If anyone knows the location of one of these that's for sale, I'd be interested in hearing the price-tag on it.) In 1956, Fantasy Press produced what we'd call today a "trade paperback" edition of "GALACTIC PATROL;" paperbound copies from the 1951 print run. At least one Fantasy Press hardbound, "GRAY LENSMAN," was reprinted by Gnome Press, around 1961, apparently using a simple photo-offset reproduction of the original Fantasy Press version. The only apparent changes were the removal of the Fantasy Press name and colophon from the title page (and "Gnome Press," without the famous Edd Cartier-designed Gnome colophon, added.) The copyright date is still given as 1951, and although it's the second edition, it claims to be the first. Of course, the dedication page, "To Lloyd," is missing from the Gnome version. The dust jacket on the first FP printing of GL mis-spelled the title as "GREY LENSMAN." The Gnome version, as is usual for that publisher, seems to have been printed on cheap paper, and the Gnome dust jacket is not a full-color reproduction of the original. ( Side note on spelling: E.E. Smith and John Campbell were both bugs on spelling, and insisted that the only time "grey" is an acceptable spelling is when you're in a country where "color" is spelled by inserting an extraneous "u." Mike Hodous has pointed out that *despite* their exemplary attitude, the cover of the October, 1939 issue of "ASTOUNDING" advertised a piece of work titled "GREY LENSMAN." It was, of course, spelled correctly inside; the cover had been prepared by the publisher's art department. Thus, the work has been mis-titled, although only on the cover, in both magazine-serialized form and initial hardback release. It is instructive to note that these mis-spellings appear to be the responsibility of art departments and cover artists; and to note, in addition, that when Jack Gaughan did the cover painting for the first Pyramid paperback release around 1964, he titled his original artwork "GREY LENSMAN" as well. ( It was caught prior to printing, in this latter case. ) These events are obviously indicators of a long-standing conspiracy among various Art People to re-define standard English orthography by fiat, and probably deserve to be investigated by some federal law-enforcement body; three times in sixty years is simply too much to tolerate. ) The first mass-market paperback editions of the six "Lensman" novels appeared from Pyramid in '64, '65, and '66. There have been a huge quantity of printings and translations, from many publishers, since.
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