Civilisation, under the rule of the Galactic Council, are the 'good guys' in the Lensman series. Consisting of several million worlds, Civilisation functions only because its members are capable of working together despite their often enormous moral, physical or technical differences. Whilst Civilisation's government tends not to interfere in the goings-on on a member planet unless requested, it has enormous power in the fields of law enforcement, trade and defence - indeed it basically administers all three.
The Galactic Council is formed exclusively from Lensmen - although some planets may not be represented if they have never yielded any Lensmen, not one planet has ever so much as asked to withdraw from Civilisation, so good is its rule. In addition, the Council and the military are very close: Port Admiral Haynes becomes - in addition to his military role - President of the Galactic Council with barely a murmur of discontent throughout the books. The exact level of democracy in the Galactic Council is not known: by default all Lensmen share similar views on the fundamental rightness of their position so debate is naturally going to be somewhat limited - however Lensmen are also by default incorruptible and therefore not susceptible to the political problems that would otherwise plague such a government. Exactly how they are elected to the Galactic Council is also unknown - E. E. Smith makes no reference to Port Admiral Haynes taking part in any political campaigning whatsoever (and this was during the war against Boskone), so he appears to have been appointed by the Galactic Council to the role.
The series opens in Triplanetary, two billion years before the present time. The universe has few life-forms, except for the elder race of our galaxy, the Arisians and few planets besides their native world. The Arisians, a peaceful race native to this universe, are already ancient at this time and have forgone physical needs in preference for contemplative mental power which they have developed and refined to an exceedingly high degree. The underlying assumption (based on then-accepted theories of stellar evolution) is that, while stars are common, planetary formation is very rare. Thus there are comparatively very few planets in the universe.
Into this universe, from an alien space-time continuum, the Eddorians come, a dictatorial, power-hungry race. They have been attracted to this universe by the observation that our galaxy and a sister galaxy (later to be named Lundmark's Nebula, still later called the Second Galaxy) are passing through each other. According to an astronomical theory current at the time of writing Triplanetary called the tidal theory (the primary theory prior to the rehabilitation of the nebular hypothesis), this will result in a unique galactic formation of billions of planets and thus the development of life upon them. Dominance over these life forms would offer the Eddorians an opportunity to satisfy their lust for power and control.
Although the Eddorians have developed mental powers almost equal to those of the Arisians, they rely instead for the most part on physical power, exercised on their behalf by a hierarchy of underling races. They see the many races in the universe, with which the Arisians were intending to build a peaceful civilization, as fodder for their power-drive.
The Arisians, detecting the invasion of our universe by the Eddorians, recognize their rapacious, intractable nature. So they try to hide their existence from the Eddorians and then begin a covert breeding program on every world that can produce intelligent life, with the aim of producing a means to eventually destroy the Eddorian race. This they grasp that they cannot do by mental power alone, and they decide that much time is needed (during which Eddore must be kept ignorant of their plans) and new races must be developed which will better be able to breach the Eddorians' mental powers than they themselves are. The new races, having done so, will naturally be better guardians of civilization than the Arisians can be, and so the Arisians' role in the universe will be ended.
Triplanetary incorporates the early history of that breeding program on Earth, illustrated with the lives of several warriors and soldiers, from ancient times to the discovery of the first interstellar space drive. It adds an additional short novel (originally published with the Triplanetary name) which is transitional to the novel First Lensman.
The second book, First Lensman, concerns the early formation of the Galactic Patrol and the first Lens, given to First Lensman Virgil Samms of "Tellus" (Earth). Samms is one side of the vast Arisian breeding program which will produce Clarissa MacDougal, the female half of the penultimate result of their breeding program. Moreover, along with Roderick Kinnison (a member of the other side, which will produce the male half), they are natural leaders as they are supremely intelligent, forceful, and capable. The Arisians, through the scientist Bergenholm (actually an Arisian entity appearing as a human, and who "invented" the interstellar drive), make it known that if Samms, the head of the Triplanetary Service which administers law enforcement to Tellus, Mars and Venus, visits the Arisian planetary system—and only if he visits the Arisian system—he will be given the tool he needs to build the Patrol he dreams of. That tool is the Lens. The Arisians further promise him that no entity unworthy of the Lens will ever be permitted to wear it, but that he and his successors will have to discover for themselves most of its abilities. They otherwise maintain a highly distant profile and refuse to talk to other beings, stating that they have given civilization the tool it needs to bring about a good future and that people should otherwise not have reason to contact them.
The Lens is a form of "pseudo-life," created by the Arisians who understand life and life-force in a way no other race does. It gives its wearer a variety of mental capabilities, including those needed to enforce the law on alien planets and to bridge the communication gap between different life-forms. Thus, it can provide mind-reading and telepathic abilities while connected directly or indirectly to the skin of its user. It cannot be worn by anyone other than its owner, will kill any other wearer, and sublimates shortly after the owner's death. Virgilia Samms, Virgil Samms's daughter, is later told that there is a gender difference that renders the Lens more compatible with male minds and that only one woman will ever become a Lensman.
Using the Lens as a means to test quality and identify the very few exceptional individuals able to help him, Virgil Samms visits races in other star systems, recruiting the best of them and forming a Galactic Patrol of exceptional individuals from a wide range of species. Their opponents in turn are discovered to be a widespread civilization based around dominance hierarchies and organized crime. The leaders of this civilization are the Eddorians, but only the Children of the Lens, who must ultimately defeat these, know of their existence.
The series contains some of the largest-scale space battles ever written. Entire worlds are almost casually destroyed (see "Super-Science Weapons" below), while some weapons are powerful enough to warp space itself. Huge fleets of spaceships fight bloody wars of attrition. Alien races of two galaxies sort themselves into the allied, Lens-bearing adherents of "Civilization" and the enemy races of "Boskone."
Centuries pass and eventually the final generations of the breeding program are born. On each of four planets, a single individual is born who realises the limits of his initial training and perceives the need to return to Arisia to seek "second stage" training, including: the ability to slay by mental force alone; a "sense of perception" which allows seeing by direct awareness without the use of the visual sense; the ability to control minds undetectably; the ability to perfectly split attention in order to perform multiple tasks with simultaneous focus on each; and to better integrate their minds for superior thinking.
As the breeding program reaches its ultimate conclusion, Kimball Kinnison, the brown-haired, gray-eyed second-stage Lensman of Earth, finally marries the most advanced product of the complementary breeding program, Clarissa MacDougall. She is a beautiful, curvaceous, red-haired nurse, who eventually becomes the first human female to receive her own Lens. Their children, a boy and two pairs of fraternal twin sisters, grow up to be the five Children of the Lens. In their breeding, "almost every strain of weakness in humanity is finally removed." They are born already possessing the powers taught to second-stage Lensmen, with mental abilities from birth that are difficult to imagine. They are the only beings of Civilization ever to see Arisia as it truly is and the only individuals developed over all the existence of billions of years able finally to penetrate the Eddorians' defense screens.
Undergoing advanced training, they are described as "third-stage" Lensmen, transcending humanity with mental scope and perceptions impossible for any normal person to comprehend. Although newly adult, they are now expected to be more competent than the Arisians and to develop their own techniques and abilities "about which we [the Arisians] know nothing."
The key discovery comes when they try mind-merging, which they have not tried since before their various third-stage trainings, and discover that this is completely changed. No longer are they simply five beings in mental contact as before. Now they discover they can merge their minds into a hive-mind, to effectively form one mental entity, a being with incalculable abilities called the Unit. The Arisians call this the "most nearly perfect creation the universe has ever seen" and state that they, who created it, are themselves almost entirely ignorant of almost all its higher powers.
The Children of the Lens, together with the mental power of unknown millions of Lensmen of the Galactic Patrol, constitute the Arisians' intended means to destroy Eddore and make the universe safe for their progeny species. The Galactic Patrol, summoned to work together in this way for the first time in its existence, contains billions of beings who in total can generate immense mental force. The Children of the Lens add their own tremendous mental force to this. As the Unit gather, they focus all power onto one tiny point of the Eddorians' shields. Thus attacked with this incalculable strength and precision, the Eddorians' strongest shields finally, after billions of years, are destroyed and the Eddorians with them.
The Arisians, with their child races successful and safe, remove themselves from the Cosmos in order to leave the Children of the Lens uninhibited in their future as the new guardians of Civilization.
The Children of the Lens are characters in the fictional Lensman universe created by E. E. "Doc" Smith. One male and two pairs of twin females, they are the children of Kimball Kinnison and Clarissa Kinnison, both of whom are second-stage lensmen. Their children are third-stage lensmen, and are the only entities with powerful enough minds to defeat the invading inhabitants of the planet Eddore. The Children of the Lens were the culmination of an eons-long breeding program set up by the inhabitants of Arisia, a race of entities with third-stage intellects, as are the Eddorians. The Arisians set up equivalent breeding programs on three other worlds, Rigel IV, Velantia III, and Palain VII, but decided that the human stock was the most promising, so the other races' equivalents of the Kinnisons never met. The Children of the Lens were developed to replace the Arisians as guardians of the races of Civilization, after the close of the war against Eddore. They were developed to be the progenitors of the new race that would replace the Arisians, who departed the Cosmos after the close of the struggle against the Eddorians.
Lens of Arisia: A lenticular quasi-living instrument of telepathy and other extra-sensory powers, worn by the Lensmen of the Galactic Patrol. It enables Lensmen to communicate with any form of sentient life, and to interpret any message no matter how encoded. Attuned to its wearer in such a way that it kills any other entity attempting to use it, the Lens disappears shortly after the death of its rightful owner. A product of Arisian mental science, it can neither be analysed nor duplicated, wherefore it replaced the Golden Meteor of the Triplanetary Patrol (the precursor to the Galactic Patrol) as the symbol of Civilisation's law-enforcement agency. For centuries the culture of the Patrol spread throughout the First Galaxy, as the Lens enabled police officers to move as quickly as criminals, unhindered by language or legal difficulties, as anyone could be assured by a mental glimpse that every wearer of the Lens is of the highest integrity and reliability. Boskone spent much effort in discovering the nature of the Lens, and after the destruction of Jarnevon the Eddorians devised Lenses of their own for an order of Black Lensmen. The Black Lensmen never constituted a serious problem, because the subconscious nature of their training weakened them in precisely the characteristics requisite for ultimate strength. Before Clarissa MacDougall - penultimate in Arisia's long breeding towards the Children of the Lens - no female wore the Lens, due to its sex-based fundamental nature. With the Lens, Arisia was able to unite the Patrol behind the Kinnison children to destroy Eddore's All-Highest and his Innermost Circle.
The Galactic Patrol was an intergalactic organization in the Lensman science fiction series written by E. E. Smith. It was also the title of the third book in the series. In the Lensman novels, the Galactic Patrol was a combination military force and interstellar law-enforcement agency, charged with the defense and preservation of Civilization. The Lensmen were the elite of the Galactic Patrol, and Lensmen tended to hold the majority of the senior-executive positions in the Patrol, although non-Lensmen personnel were essential to the organization's success, and garnered almost as much respect as their Lens-bearing superiors. The organization had large numbers of non-humans serving in all roles, although many of the leadership positions seem to be occupied by humanity.
Organization and resourcesEdit
The Patrol had a great deal of political influence in Civilization. In First Lensman, First Lensman Virgil Samms' first Galactic Council was made up entirely of Lensmen, and there was no evidence that the situation had changed in later novels. The Patrol's influence was also present in many other levels of society, to the point where "G-P hours" or "G-P days" were generally considered the standard unit of time, and that they had what amounted to a censorship veto over many prominent news-reporting organizations. Patrol bases dotted the galaxy, ranging from low-grade spaceports to the massive headquarters bases of Prime Base on Earth (or Tellus, as it is called in the novels) and Ultra Prime on Klovia, in the second galaxy, and its possession of the inertialess (or "free") drive made it possible for its forces to deploy anywhere in known space rapidly.
This organization was also very well funded, to the point where it possessed an expendable reserve of ten billion credits on Tellus alone. In Gray Lensman, Port Admiral Haynes noted that, were it not for the galactic war, a financial crisis might have risen over the Patrol possessing so much in the way of legal tender. (For comparison, in 1940, the year after Gray Lensman was originally published, the U. S. Gross Domestic Product was $97 billion, so the "ten thousand million credit" figure was received by readers as equivalent to 10% of GDP; in 2008 terms that would be almost $1.5 trillion.)
Also, the Patrol was well equipped for its second role as military force. In Galactic Patrol, it fielded a Grand Fleet of over fifty thousand capital ships, including large numbers of "maulers", or super-heavy battleships. That fleet grew by leaps and bounds through the later novels, numbering well into the millions by Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens. The number of combat units in the Grand Fleet were so numerous that a special flagship, the Directrix or Z9M9Z, had to be commissioned with extensive and advanced C3 facilities.
It is explicitly stated in later novels that the Directrix/Z9M9Z is in command of "one-million combat units", which is further elaborated upon as literally one-million individual fleets. The exact number of ships in each fleet is unknown, but the defensive fleet for Directrix alone was eighty ships, and this could reasonably be said to be the number of other fleets—or approximately 80,000,000 ships in total. This also leads to a fair estimation of the size of Civilization, since each fleet was based on an individual member-world of Civilization, indicating about one-million planets in total. This number does not include a fleet of planets converted into mobile, armored weapons (also explicitly mentioned) and a single huge star system annihilating WMD called a "Negasphere".
This number is in keeping with the fact that, later in the series, the Boskone crime syndicate mustered fleets of warships and mobile worlds to be sent through the "hundreds of thousands" of hyperspatial gates they'd opened to attack Arisia directly. It is possible then that at that one battle Boskone possessed millions or even tens of millions of ships, thus explaining Civilization's need for such an astonishingly vast standing army.
The Patrol's ground forces, while receiving less attention than the fleet, were no slouches either. Perhaps the most visible of the ground combat arm were the companies of Valerians, Terran-descended humans whose high-gravity colony world had bred incredible strength and agility into them. The Patrol also possessed extensive ground armor and artillery, including "catapillars", massive vehicles toting heavy beam cannon batteries. The two best-known weapons of the Patrol, however, are probably the DeLameter portable projector, or energy handgun, and the space-axe, described as a "combination and sublimation of battle-axe, mace, harpoon, and lumberman's picaroon" and the favored weapon of Valerian marines.
The Patrol's scientists were among the finest in the known universe, capable of turning out new technologies and devices at a rate that would impress the engineers from Star Trek. Examples of their work include the detector nullifier, the negasphere (or planet-sized antimatter bomb), and the sunbeam (which concentrated a Sun's entire energy output into a single, horrifyingly powerful beam).
The full range of executive leadership positions for the Patrol is less than clear. What is clear is that nearly all these positions were held by Gray Lensmen. Four distinct positions can be discerned:
Port Admiral, the apparent head of the combat and operating forces. This position had a seat on Civilization's ruling Council, and there was at least one case of the Council President holding both posts simultaneously. Notable Port Admirals include Roderick K. Kinnison, Port Admiral Haynes, and Raoul LaForge. There is also mention of "five-star admirals" in Galactic Patrol, who are apparently the Port Admiral's subordinates and deputies.
Commandant of Cadets, in charge of the training of Patrol personnel, with specific authority over Tellus's Lensmen candidates. Notable Commandants of Cadets include Lieutenant-Marshal Fritz von Hohendorff.
Surgeon-Marshal, in charge of medical operations. Notable Surgeon-Marshals include Surgeon-Marshal Lacy.
Galactic Coordinator, a semi-political post which, in effect, was a military governorship over the second of the two galaxies in which the Patrol operated. The first Galactic Coordinator was Kimball Kinnison, and he had a Vice-Coordinator as his deputy.
The first three positions generally operated from Prime Base on Tellus. By necessity, the Galactic Coordinator was based on Klovia. Other apparent positions include the following: Admiral and Lieutenant-Admiral of the First Galactic Region (the area surrounding the Sol system), Marshal and Lieutenant-Marshal of the Sol system, and General and Lieutenant-General of Tellus. (Notably, these ranks are apparently intended to be in descending order, but draw upon ranks from several different branches of the military service.) These posts were only mentioned in First Lensman, and it is unclear if they are still active as of the events of Galactic Patrol.
Prime Base: Prime Base is a man-made, flat-topped mountain on Tellus that houses the headquarters of the Galactic Patrol, including the office of the Port Admiral. During the time of the First Lensman, it was attacked by pirates working for Boskone, but thanks to the efforts of its fleet and defences it survived without coming to any harm.
Prime Base has a large number of functions, including the ability to construct warships for the Galactic Patrol and a variety of scientific labs for scientists that work there, such as Nels Bergenholm. It is hinted within the series that, rather than a Military-Industrial Complex such as evolved in our society, almost all military research and production is managed by civilian employees of the Galactic Patrol, rather than by independent contractors. Earth's financial contribution to the Galactic Patrol is paid by a 3.6% income tax "in the highest brackets," distributed across the entire planet, making the financial pinnings of the Patrol—even in wartime—roughly equivalent to current Department of Defense spending as a fraction of the US economy.
Internal evidence in the series may lead the modern reader to believe that Prime Base is the evolved form of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. However, the Cheyenne Mountain complex, initiated in 1961, postdates the publication of the Lensman novels, and is location in a different region of the USA.
With the discovery of Lundmark's Nebula, the Galactic Patrol built Ultra Prime base on Klovia - a far stronger version of Prime Base, though it never replaced Prime Base in terms of overall importance.
Ultra Prime: Ultra-Prime is the immensely well-protected fortress that is the Galactic Patrol's base on Klovia. It was built to be even tougher than Prime Base on Tellus, and has considerably better defenses. Built in the latter stages of the war against Boskone, it was never attacked, but provided the perfect lure with which to draw out the Boskonian Grand Fleet in order to destroy it.
Hyper-spatial Tube: A "tunnel" through hyperspace, allowing galactic distances to be traversed in minutes, as well as allowing access to other universes. Objects and people from different origin points meeting each other in the tube pass through each other rather than interacting. The artificial, ultra-dense material "dureum" is an exception; it is therefore used to create objects and weapons (axes, clubs, knives) capable of interacting with anything and anyone in a tube. Originally invented by the Eddorians and used for their explorations of other universes prior to their arrival in the Lensman universe, it was given to the Boskonian subject races, and was eventually discovered and copied by the Patrol. It has points in common with the modern idea of wormholes to link distant points in space.
Inertialessness: Spaceships are able to vastly exceed the speed of light by eliminating the inertia of their mass. When the "inertialess drive" (which does not actually provide propulsion) is turned on, the "free" (inertialess) ship instantly attains a velocity at which the force of the ship's propulsion jets is matched by friction of the medium through which it travels (such as widely scattered hydrogen molecules in the vacuum of space), avoiding the Einsteinian light-speed limit on normal (inert) matter, and so attaining a speed of about 90 parsecs per hour at touring speed and about 120 parsecs per hour at full blast. The vacuum of Intergalactic space is even more rarefied, and the speed there is about 100,000 parsecs per hour. An inertialess drive unit is called a "Bergenholm" after the scientist (actually an Arisian student appearing to be a human) who improved and perfected the original inertialess drive.
Conservation of momentum is maintained; when the inertialess drive generator is switched off, the spacecraft's original velocity is restored. If a ship has traveled a great distance, inert maneuvering will be required in order to match velocity relative to the local planet or moon. There are similar velocity-matching difficulties with ships docking in space, and in transferring "free" passengers from one ship to another.
Inertialess drive generators small enough for a single person are used by Galactic Patrol staff. Patrol members can travel downward within tall buildings, via drop shafts, by falling while inertialess. Some armored spacesuits have individual inertialess drives installed.
Screens: Spaceships are protected by several layers of defensive force field "screens", including the innermost and strongest "wall shield." Smaller vehicles and even spacesuits can carry screens of lesser power.
Spaceships: The smallest are called "speedsters" or "flitters" and carry only the pilot, or a very small crew. They are generally used for scouting or covert missions. Larger military ships have designations equivalent to early-twentieth-century surface naval vessels: Destroyers, cruisers, dreadnaughts (battleships), superdreadnaughts. In addition, there are "maulers", which are huge, slow-moving vessels so powerful they can attack planetary bases. Slower ships are spherical; faster ones have teardrop shapes; the fastest of all are the "ultrafast" cigar-shaped speeders and later (Dauntless-class) superdreadnaughts.
Thought Screens: In a universe where many alien races have powerful telepathic abilities, and even mind control is possible, thought screens can be a valuable asset. They are proof against penetration by even a second-stage Lensman's mind. The Children of the Lens are able to bypass ("think over or under", suggesting thought as a spectrum) or even, if necessary, penetrate any non-Eddorian thought screen, and in the final battle the Unit and the collected Lensmen penetrate even Eddorian thought screens.
Ultra-wave: Vibrations in the "sub-ether", used for interstellar "radio"-like communications and detection. Ultra-wave travels at about 19 billion times the speed of light. The use dates from the time of the latter part of Triplanetary. Sean Barrett, in the GURPS Lensman game, has suggested that ultra-waves form the basis for the so-called "vacuum tubes" used in the series.
Power Armor: While never explicitly given to supplying increased strength in the manner of a powered exoskeleton, armored space-suits available to both the Patrol and to Boskone nonetheless contain energy shields and inertialess drive units. Further, during the career of Kimball Kinnison (father of the Children of the Lens) a suit was fabricated in order to permit him to survive an assault upon the command centre of an enemy fortress which is quite obviously both armored to the point where a normal man could not operate it and yet fully mobile, implying some form of load-carrying augmentation. This would make it the first known example of powered infantry battle armor in science fiction.
Power production: Prior to the extended version of the novella Triplanetary for book publication, no out-of-the-ordinary power technologies are described; however interplanetary travel with the ship sizes and capabilities implied requires terawatt power sources, so we can infer some version of nuclear fission or fusion power. After the advent of the Nevians and through the rest of Triplanetary, the primary power source for spaceships and planetary installations is the controlled matter-to-energy conversion of "allotropic iron", an allotrope of iron which appears to be a dense, viscous, red liquid at room temperature.
By the time of First Lensman, allotropic iron is replaced by an unnamed form of atomic power. Uranium is mentioned, but not explicitly as an energy source; it is a vital ingredient in the Bergenholm, however, not as a power source, but as part of the structure and/or circuitry. It can be inferred that a total-conversion engine is used throughout that book, and the remainder of the series. It is noted that power production generates radiation that can be detected by other ships at a considerable distance and cannot be perfectly screened. Stealth ships for covert missions can be fitted with large diesel generating sets, capable of powering the Bergenholm and providing limited drive power for short periods, so that the atomics can be shut down for sensitive parts of the mission.
Atomic-power units appear to have a minimum feasible size which prevents their use on installations smaller than a spaceship. The Bergenholms and drivers fitted to personal space armor are powered by electrical accumulators, which despite their portable size have capacities of many myriawatt-hours and whose charging load represents a significant drain on the power stations of a less technologically advanced planet such as Delgon.
Some time prior to the start of Galactic Patrol, the Boskonians had developed a method of using their on-board power systems as exciters to gather power from "cosmic energy" sources with an amplification factor of a million times the exciter power. The Galactic Patrol, capturing this technology during Kimball Kinnison's first major assignment, not only reverse engineered it for routine use, but also developed shields and screens to block enemy systems from drawing the power, and upgraded the power systems for their "Mauler" class of attack vessels to defeat systems reliant on cosmic-energy collection.
Spaceship drive: The Bergenholm nullifies the inertia of a spaceship, but does not of itself provide any driving force. Driving projectors, or "jets", are reaction engines, using as reaction mass nascent fourth-order particles or corpuscles which are formed, inert, in the inertialess projector, by the conversion of some form of energy into matter. The process produces, as by-products, a certain amount of heat and a considerable amount of light. This light, shining through the highly tenuous gas formed of the ejected particles, produces a "flare" which makes a speeding spaceship one of the most beautiful spectacles known to man, but also makes it visually detectable at long range. Stealth ships therefore make use of "flare baffles" to prevent the escape of the light; the disadvantage is that, because the waste energy cannot escape from the projector in the usual way, it must be dissipated to prevent overheating, so baffles are only fitted when absolutely required.
Shields: Warship shields (or screens) are multi-layered bubbles of force, much like the shields from most other science fiction universes. Unusually however, they change colour before failing: a shield starts off as invisible, then appears red, orange, yellow, all the way down to violet, ultraviolet and finally a brief moment of blackness as the shield fails. Unlike most science fiction shields however, those in the Lensman universe are almost quasi-solid - they are described as bulging inwards in some areas and remaining out in others. Should one patch break however then the entire shield fails and the next line of shields must take up the challenge (presumably with the previous shield's generators contributing). The final line of defence is the wall shield: a nearly-solid wall of energy skirting the outside hull of a ship: if this falls then the ship is dead in the water as no hull is capable of withstanding the monumental energies wielded in the Lensman universe. Be warned however: offensive weapons by and large tend to overpower shields: only a planet-based shield is capable of withstanding the awesome power of a super-maulers' single, terrifically powerful Primary Beam - anything less will simply be scythed clean in two, wall shields and all.
Information processing: Computing technology as we understand it is practically unknown, being limited to slide rules, adding machines, and punched card tabulating machines. A "computer" is not a calculating machine but an intelligent being performing calculations by brain power with the assistance of the abovementioned limited aids. Large concentrations of computing power, as required by the C3 system of the Patrol Grand Fleet flagship Directrix, are implemented using squadrons of Rigellians, a naturally telepathic species, in mental communication with each other. In the (non-canonical) GURPS Lensman gaming supplement, the lack of electronic computers (and other advanced electronics) in the future setting of the Lensman universe was retroactively explained as follows: Wanting the races of Civilization to develop their own mental powers to the fullest extent possible, rather than relying on electronic aids, the Arisians intervened with the normal course of history to retard the development of transistors and other advanced electronics.
The science fiction sub-genre of "super-science" is nowhere more apparent in the Lensman series than in its (sometimes literally) world-shaking weapons.
Space-axe: The shields of space armor are capable of indefinitely resisting the output of a blaster. Moreover, their resistance to material projectiles varies as the cube of the velocity of the projectile, rendering bullets also ineffective. To counter this, the space-axe was developed. It has an axe blade on one end and a needle-sharp spike on the other and is shoved into targets rather than swung. To increase its deadliness, the weapon may be inlaid with or even entirely composed of ultra-dense dureum (see "Hyper-spatial Tube" above).
Mind Killer: Never actually given a name, this tiny device conceived by Worsel and constructed by master technician Thorndyke produced a vibration that caused the disintegration of a compound vital to thought in all living beings. The effect was so deadly that Worsel and Thorndyke agreed that Kinnison was the only person who could be trusted with it and so presumably only one was ever made. It was small enough to fit in a ring or other jewelry, or even to be implanted in Kinnison's body.
Blaster: In First Lensman, the standard blaster pistol was the Lewiston Mk 17. The main sequence of the series uses the DeLameter, a raygun so powerful it can atomize its target and reduce a wall behind it to smoking ruins. The aperture of the DeLameter can be opened so as to emit a wide and comparatively less powerful cone of destruction or narrowed so as to emit a pencil-thin and extremely intense beam.
Semi-Portable: The Lensman universe equivalent of a heavy machine gun, the semi-portable is a large beam weapon designed to be carried by more than one man. It projects a beam powerful enough to overcome personal defense screens (mounted on an individual's space armor) which cannot be penetrated by DeLameters or other hand blasters. The semi-portable is small enough to be used in a spaceship corridor, though it may need to be secured with magnetic clamps.
Macro Beam: These ship-mounted beams can vaporize any matter in moments. Only screens can provide any defense to these bluish-green beams, all normal matter is instantly broken down into its component elements. The word "macro" refers to the fact that the beams operate using "conventional" wavebands, as opposed to the "ultra" bands used by other beam weaponry.
Heptadetonite: Used by the Britannia to fire its duodec bomb at a Boskonian warship in 'Galactic Patrol', heptadetonite is the equivalent of gunpowder in an old-fashioned cannon - it provides the force necessary to hurl the explosives out of the cannon and into the enemy ship. Whilst this may seem low-tech, an inertialess field would greatly improve the speed of the projectile, the heptadetonite would be easy-to-store, low-tech and require less power to use than say a railgun (which aside from requiring a lot more power and thus draining other weapon systems, could also suffer from feedback problems, as real railguns do).
Primary Beam: These became the primary weaponry of the warships of space. A Macro Beam projector is so massively overloaded that it burns out almost instantly while emitting a beam much more intense than is otherwise possible. Invented as a dying act of desperation by a Boskonian vessel (on which it killed each gun crew using the technique), it was adapted in more controlled form by the Galactic Patrol, using highly-shielded primary projectors whose spent emitters were ejected like massive shell-cases.
Secondary Beam: This is essentially the same technology as the primary beam, but the projector is not used outside its continuous rating. The beam is of considerably lower power than the primary, but can be maintained for as long as a power source is available.
Duodec: In Galactic Patrol, the superior screens of a Boskonian ship are overcome with the power of the explosive duodecaplylatomate, described as "the quintessence of atomic destruction," whose power is comparable to a nuclear explosion as produced by current real-world technology and has few of the drawbacks of atomics: there is apparently no radiation danger, it is easy to handle, simple to use, powerful and easy to detonate. Duodec is also used by the Boskonians to self-destruct their bases to prevent capture, by Kinnison to destroy Menjo Bleeko's mining complex on Lonabar and in many other situations calling for an extremely powerful explosive.
Sunbeam: The Sunbeam was developed in the beginning of 'Second Stage Lensman' when Kinnison realises that nothing the Galactic Patrol has will be able to stop an attack by several inertialess Boskonian planets. A ring of specially designed 'exciters' throughout the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, as well as a focusing array, convert the total power output of the sun - estimated in the books to be just over four million tonnes of matter per second - into a single, staggeringly powerful beam that, in its first flicker (the engineers had not perfected it by the time it fired) exterminated every Boskonian ship not destroyed by the Galactic Patrol, and which in just a few seconds turned the 7 inertialess planets' surfaces into barren, molten wastelands, possibly including their shielded rear faces (as that is logically where most of the inertialess drive technology would most-likely be located). The aperture of the beam is not known, but the fact that it did this to all the planets simultaneously suggests a beam far wide than Earth itself (meaning a lot of the energy would not hit anything at all). However if one does the maths for this, it turns out that the beam's power is actually less than that of the Executor command ship from Star Wars: hardly a rival to the Death Star. Yet when one reads about the mere Primary Beams of the Patrol's warships causing the ether to seeth and rage, it suggests something far superior to a mere Turbolaser. Thus it is more likely in my opinion that the the figure instead describes the energy used to power the exciters for a cosmic energy intake screen - in which case the beam would be many orders of magnitude more powerful and fit in with the description of the battles more closely.
Allotropic iron torpedo: The primary power source for Nevian spaceships in Triplanetary is the controlled matter-to-energy conversion of "allotropic iron," an allotrope of iron which is a dense, viscous, red liquid at room temperature. In conventional chemistry, allotropes are substances with the same atomic composition, but different molecular arrangements. Thus, phosphorus occurs in the allotropes white phosphorus and red phosphorus. However, these transformations are purely chemical and not nuclear. Smith's fictional allotropic iron can be made to undergo nuclear conversion as a power source, analogous to the nuclear conversion of the catalyzed copper fuel rods of The Skylark of Space. Allotropic iron can also be "sensitized" so as to undergo uncontrolled matter-to-energy conversion under a suitable stimulus, thus producing an extremely powerful explosive. A torpedo carrying a sensitized allotropic iron charge is detonated on Nevia in Triplanetary with devastating results. In later times, duodec is the atomic explosive of choice, perhaps due to its apparent greater ease of handling.
Negasphere: A sphere of "negative matter" first created in Gray Lensman. In some respects its properties resemble antimatter. If brought into contact with normal matter, mutual annihilation results, releasing an enormous flood of energy. But it differs from antimatter in that it absorbs light so that it is utterly black. Tractor and pressor beams have reversed effects when used on a negasphere. Perhaps a negasphere is better described as having properties of both negative matter and negative energy. The negasphere is an expression of the original Dirac Sea conception of antimatter by Paul A. M. Dirac as a "hole" in space which has been evacuated of normal matter (this is of course a gross conceptual simplification of Dirac's ideas).
Free Planet: An entire planet is rendered inertialess. If fitted with massive power plants and screens, it can be used as a mobile fortress with enough power to easily brush off attacks by spaceships. If properly positioned and inerted, it can be used to crush an enemy planet in an extreme form of kinetic bombardment.
Nutcracker: In Gray Lensman, two "free planets" (see above) with opposing inert velocities were positioned on either side of an enemy planet. Simultaneously inerted, they crushed the other planet between them. Such approach will crush even a "free" planet.
Sunbeam: In Second-Stage Lensman, an entire solar system is converted to a vacuum tube, with asteroids and planets as grids and plates, to focus nearly the entire output of the sun into a beam capable of melting the surface of a planet in seconds. That's the conversion of 4.26 million metric tons per second of matter into energy, or 9.15 × 1010 megatons of TNT per second. Thus, it is a defense against attacks by "free" planets, which are rendered inert when their Bergenholms (inertialess drive units) are destroyed. The Sunbeam is an ultrawave vacuum tube rather than a normal one. This is demonstrated by the fact that its beam moves faster than light and can be retargeted on different objects in the outer reaches of the solar system in a matter of seconds.
Nth-Space Planet: The ultimate material weapon in the Lensman series. Also called a "Super-Nutcracker." In Children of the Lens, an expedition travels to "Nth Space," another space-time continuum where physical laws are different and all matter moves faster than light. There, a planet is rendered "free" (see "Free Planet" above) and moved via hyper-spatial tube into our universe. The planet is then moved close into an enemy stellar system and inerted. The result is so violent that the Nth-Space planet launched against Ploor's sun makes it go supernova, still radiating the energy of 550 million Suns several years later. It was so powerful, in fact, that there was a theoretical possibility that its mass would be "some higher order of infinity" and that the entire universe would coalesce around it in zero time (rather like an instantaneous Big Crunch). Fortunately, Mentor of Arisia assured Kit Kinnison that "operators would come into effect to prevent such an occurrence" and that untoward events would be limited to a radius of ten or fifteen parsecs. During the Battle of Ploor, an Nth-Space planet was launched against Ploor. A second planet was launched into Ploor's sun to destroy Ploor's remaining military forces in the area.
Mauler: Relatively slow compared to the Super-Dreadnoughts and Battleships of the Lensman series, Maulers are, as the name suggests, designed to maul. With incredibly tough shields and Macrobeams (and later Primary Beams), they were designed to lock onto their enemies and blast them apart through sheer brute force. The problem of course was that they were slow and could thus be outrun by most other warships - for this reason they were only useful either in Grand Fleet formations or teamed up with a Cruiser designed to immobilise the Boskonian raider until the Mauler could arrive to finish the job (such Cruisers lacked any sort of weaponry at all, and so had to rely on their shields and tractor beams). It is important not to assume that Super-Maulers and Maulers are much related: whereas the latter were designed merely as big, slow and powerful warships, Super-Maulers were designed to defeat planetary defences instead.
Speedster: Speedsters are cramped, uncomfortable and spartan needle-shaped ships - too small for more than half a dozen people usually and ideally suited to just one or two. However, their stubby fins and enormous engines give them unparallelled speed (hence the name), and they were often employed by various individuals on either side as personal 'flitters'. Notable speedsters include Nadreck's speedster (almost totally indetectable and capable of ever so slowly boring through shields without setting off alarms) and Kinnison's speedster (similarly indetectable). Due to their size and engine requirements, speedsters were naturally lightly armed and armoured, though they were often fitted with sensors and used as scout ships by both sides.
Super-Mauler: The biggest ships of both fleets, Super-Maulers are so slow and unwieldy that just about the only direction they know is straight ahead - nothing more than a negasphere or inertialess planet can move them. Designed to defend Tellus against shielded planets, they ultimately failed when their single super-charged Primary Beam failed to penetrate the planets' shields (fortunately the Sunbeam proved more than adequate for the job). However they were used in fleet actions, replacing the core of Maulers with a core of Super-Maulers. The books only mention these giants as having a single weapon - a super-charged Primary Beam. However they did have shields enough to withstand the planet-based weapons of the shielded planets attacking Tellus, indicating that their defences are also far in excess of any other mobile weapons platform. Both sides it is known used them - in fact at the Battle for Klovia the Boskonian fleet, though smaller than the Galactic Patrol's, was heavier, with more Super-Maulers and other capital ships. Little did the Boskonian captains know that they were flying straight into the path of a Sunbeam however - in an instant, the entire centre of the Boskonian fleet was vaporised, leaving the Galactic Patrol with all the heavy ships. One of the few times at which Super-Maulers fought was when the Galactic Patrol first entered the Second Galaxy. Facing down a thoroughly disorganised Boskonian fleet (thanks to Port Admiral Haynes' manoeuvres on the way in), several Patrol Super-Maulers were able to gang up on a single Boskonian one, destroying it through sheer weight of firepower before it could do much harm to the Patrol ships.