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Old 09-20-2008, 05:31 AM
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"Lensman" news

Keeping with the idea that one thread worked well for "Changeling", I'm starting this thread for "Lensman" with the post JMS made last night:
Quote:
Title: Re: Writer's Question-Lensman and Character Continuity
Author: "jmsatb5@aol.com" <jmsatb5@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 19:15:45 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <65998137-0187-492b-9b72-9edde736d1de@v39g2000pro.googlegroups.com>


On Sep 16, 5:11 am, Professor <David.Butler.N...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [ The following text is in the "windows-1252" character set. ]
> [ Your display is set for the "ISO-8859-1" character set. ]
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>
> When the rumors started about JMS doing a movie on something called
> Lensmen, I ran out and bought the book series and read them back-to-
> back. Now that I have a few months of the stories behind me, I am
> attempting to understand how a writer would put such a vast story and
> myriad of characters into a movie. One particular issue is that of
> character development. Each Lensman Chronicle has unique characters
> within it and each book is separated by at least on generation, often
> times many more. If you were to write a movie script that ran the full
> timeline of Lensman, how do you keep the audience interested in the
> story if the characters keep changing? I was trying to find an film
> example from memory, but could not. Star Wars, main characters
> throughout, Matrix Trilogy, main characters throughout all three,
> Alien(s), there is the Sigourney Weaver character in each of them.
>
> Do American and Western European audiences need to have the same
> characters repeat in each movie of a trilogy to enable the connection
> with the character and to make it successful? Or has a writer never
> tried to do it differently (that I know of) and thus we don?t know if
> it will work or not? If the Lensman books can hold an audience with
> different characters between chronicles, why can?t a movie, or is that
> a false analogy?
> David

In brief, and withoiut getting into details that are still in the
process of being worked out, I've chosen to focus on the story of
Kimball Kinnison, using his story as the fulcrum by which I can get
into the whole history of the Lens and outward from there.

jms
For those interested in reading the source books by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, the Kimball Kinnison story appears to begin in "Galactic Patrol", third book of the Lensman series. I'm only just starting to read them so if there's an earlier mention in earlier books, I hope somebody will correct me.

Jan
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan View Post
For those interested in reading the source books by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, the Kimball Kinnison story appears to begin in "Galactic Patrol", third book of the Lensman series. I'm only just starting to read them so if there's an earlier mention in earlier books, I hope somebody will correct me.

Jan
Have you started at book one? I've been meaning to pick up the series.
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan View Post
Keeping with the idea that one thread worked well for "Changeling", I'm starting this thread for "Lensman" with the post JMS made last night:

For those interested in reading the source books by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, the Kimball Kinnison story appears to begin in "Galactic Patrol", third book of the Lensman series. I'm only just starting to read them so if there's an earlier mention in earlier books, I hope somebody will correct me.

Jan
It is in Galactic Patrol, which stands as the third book now, but it was considered the first part of the story when it was first written in 1937. The Triplanetary story had been written earlier, and was later re-written to connect to Lensman. First Lensman was written as a prequel later to act as a bridge between the two. The events in Galactic Patrol take place long after First Lensman though, so Kinnison isn't in any of the "earlier" stories. He is in all the rest of the books.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glindros View Post
Have you started at book one? I've been meaning to pick up the series.
I've had the first four books for some time now but the first one ("Triplanetary") looked like it was going to be an effort so when JMS posted last night I skipped over to "Galactic Patrol" and this looks more to my taste.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeD80
It is in Galactic Patrol, which stands as the third book now, but it was considered the first part of the story when it was first written in 1937. The Triplanetary story had been written earlier, and was later re-written to connect to Lensman. First Lensman was written as a prequel later to act as a bridge between the two. The events in Galactic Patrol take place long after First Lensman though, so Kinnison isn't in any of the "earlier" stories. He is in all the rest of the books.
That's great information, Joe, thanks. Oddly, I remembered the Kimball Kinnison name from reading Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast" so I've always been curious about the series.

JMS has made the point that some of the writing is impenetrable but he loves it for the scope and scale (sound familiar?) of the story.

Jan
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Last edited by Jan; 09-20-2008 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:03 PM
Captain Ahab Captain Ahab is offline
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Do you know what he meant by impenetrable? As in outdated or just cumbersome? I read the series (minus First Lensman for some reason) this summer and I found it easy enough. It's mainly plot and dialogue driven, which I liked. I'm not good with loads of descriptive text, my mind kind of wanders...

(I apologise, I couldn't think of a better way to word that first sentence that didn't sound ... Inflamatory. )

Plus, there's some quality engineering/sciencey type stuff in there. Interesting planets, spaceship tactics etc.

Last edited by Captain Ahab; 09-21-2008 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:27 PM
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Probably a little of both outdated and cumbersome but he didn't go into specifics because his point was mainly the sense of wonder the story has. I know that what little I read of the first book, I was afraid it would be quite a slog. Now that I've skipped to "Galactic Patrol" it's much more to my taste and began with a nice description of the Lens and the duties of the Lensmen which brought me up to speed nicely. I wouldn't be surprised if I want to go back and read the first two books at some point but for now I'm liking getting into the story that will likely be covered in the movies.

One thing for sure, I already know that JMS's footnotes are more entertaining. You're right about the tactics. I've noticed that already.

Jan
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Old 09-22-2008, 09:06 AM
Captain Ahab Captain Ahab is offline
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Yeah, definitely. Even after reading the last 4 and going back to Triplanetary, I found it hard. And for some reason the copy (curse Amazon!) I bought didn't have the part about Arisia at all, so if anyone's looking to pick it up, don't buy this one.
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Old 09-29-2008, 08:20 AM
Righteous Bros Righteous Bros is offline
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Lensman and Star Wars

Hi all,

Like many others I immediately went out and bought the Lensman series as soon as the rumours became fact regarding JMS and the script.

The advantge of this is that while reading the books (all 6, I don't include Masters of the Vortex) I kept imagining what it would look like on the screen and the more I thought of it the more similiarities I could imagine it beginning like Star Wars....

LENSMAN
Part III - Galactic Patrol

In the struggle for universal domination the Eddorians believed they were winning, they only had a small sector of the universe to conquer and they would be supreme.
For all their power they were unaware of the planet Arisia and its inhabitants who foretold the Eddorians rise to power and had spent millenia planning how to stop it.
The Arisians planned the development of the people of Terra and to some of these Terrans they gave the power of the Lens with which they believed they could successfully defeat the Eddorians and their evil Empire.


Gets my heart racing even thinking about it and just imagine when it then says, adapted by JMS...sounds great.

As for the books, well III - V are all actually a re-hash of III, just with Kinnision defeating a bigger boss. The Children of the Lens is an excellent concept although I found the emphasis on techincal detail a bit turgid.

That said, the books are well worth the read.

Rej C
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:32 AM
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So many similarities

Hello everyone,

I would have to agree with the "first nova" title given to E.E. Smith Ph.D. Although some of the technology and concepts are now archaic and obsolete (such as slide rules and the lack of computers) for the time in which these stories were printed, Dr. Smith was on the razors edge. I purchased "First Lensman" a few weeks ago from iTunes. I have listened through half of it and I'm amazed as to the foundation that Dr. Smith setup for his space opera. Albeit that this was not the first book written, it does however give the over view needed to get the rest aligned in your mind...at least in my opinion.

So much of it reminds me of all three sci-fi series (Babylon 5, Star Wars, and Star Trek). As an example of this, consider the giving of the lens by Mentor to each person and them "seeing" what was the most beneficial to them. Kosh? You also have a lot of political intrigue going on and pirates with the contraband that need to be stopped. Even the search for the lensmen was akin to the looking for the "first ones" or Qui-Gon Jinn looking for padawons to training. Shades of the forming of the league of non-aligned worlds and parallels of the AnlaƆshok come to mind. Arisians vs. Eddorians or Vorlons vs. Shadows or Jedi vs. Sith...read First Lensman; you won't regret it.
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Old 10-08-2008, 03:19 PM
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Hi, Mentor, welcome!

I'm still working on my reading so I can't talk about the Lensman books much yet but your comments about things being out of date remind me of some comments JMS made once about an old TV show (Flash Gordon? Not sure). In it, the crew were gathering equipment and needed a ray gun and they pulled out something that looked cool and futuristic and they needed some other equipment and pulled out something small and cool and futuristic and then they needed the 'portable radio' and pulled out this big suitcase-sized thing. See, they *knew* what a real radio looked like and so that's what they portrayed but they didn't know about the rest so it came out looking better than the equipment that had really been invented.

Jan
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  #11  
Old 10-11-2008, 01:59 PM
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I read the Lensmen books when I was a kid (I got them all at a garage sale for maybe 10 cents each) and liked them well enough, though not well enough to re-read. My memory is that they were definitely more suitable to the juvenile audience.

The biggest memory for me is that each book seemed to feature a ship with "impenetrable shields" which was then defeated by a ship with "irresistible beams" which was then (maybe in the same book, maybe in the next one) defeated by a ship with even-more "impenetrable" shields which was in turn defeated by a ship with even-more "irresistible" beams and so forth, to the point of being silly.

Luckily for JMS, the situation and characters are perfectly suitable for a movie, and Smith's rather lazy approach to technology isn't essential to any story told in that universe.
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Old 10-13-2008, 04:31 PM
FuryPilot FuryPilot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumbler View Post
The biggest memory for me is that each book seemed to feature a ship with "impenetrable shields" which was then defeated by a ship with "irresistible beams" which was then (maybe in the same book, maybe in the next one) defeated by a ship with even-more "impenetrable" shields which was in turn defeated by a ship with even-more "irresistible" beams and so forth, to the point of being silly.
While I agree with you that the prose made the concept sound silly, the idea of an ever-increasing escalation of weapon vs. armor capabilities is valid. If the trebuchet had never seen a wall it could not breach, we never would have needed/wanted cannon...

If anything, Smith is guilty of not explaining why "impenetrable" shields suddenly are, and why. Something I think can be forgiven considering the general sophistication of science fiction of its time.

However, a modern author (David Weber's Honor Harrington series springs to mind) could not possibly get away with the same thing today.

Cheers!

FuryPilot
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:20 PM
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However, a modern author (David Weber's Honor Harrington series springs to mind) could not possibly get away with the same thing today.
Actually, that was one of the weakest things about the HH series (which I enthusiastically recommend, this quibble notwithstanding) - he does the same deus ex machina thing to end and start wars. It starts to get implausible pretty quickly, though it is really just used to set up the situations in which HH faces her challenges.

I don't understand why those books haven't been optioned for movies.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:26 PM
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Actually, that was one of the weakest things about the HH series (which I enthusiastically recommend, this quibble notwithstanding) - he does the same deus ex machina thing to end and start wars. It starts to get implausible pretty quickly, though it is really just used to set up the situations in which HH faces her challenges.

I don't understand why those books haven't been optioned for movies.
Yes that is a mystery indeed

I would have thought a top selling sci-fi series like HH would have been optioned a long time ago. Maybe it has been optioned but like most books and great scripts that do get optioned, it will never be made into a movie because the company that bought it did so in order that they could deny their competition in making it into a huge hit.

Hollywood is petty, small minded and spitefull.

Last edited by Talwyn; 10-20-2008 at 06:29 PM.
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  #15  
Old 11-28-2008, 12:21 PM
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Attn: JMS

Greetings JMS-

I was just wondering which book in the Lensman series you were adapting for Ron Howard's Lensman movie?
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