I read this book about 24-May-2003. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1951. This note was last modified Monday, 19-May-2014 16:37:36 PDT.
This is book 4 of the "Lensman" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Jumping into the middle of the classic Lensman series, for an umpteenth reread. Lensmen are incorruptible. Each year the top thousand young men of Earth are selected to be lensmen, and given the lens of Arisia (and of the Galactic Patrol) to signify their status as the ultimate representatives of civilization.
One of the interesting things about this world is the degree to which I think I wouldn't like living in it. Part of that is the state of ongoing total war between Civilization and Boskonia, but part of it is the resulting social rigidity. And besides, they've got the drug war in spades (although cigarettes, of course, are not drugs).
These stories build spectacularly. From Galactic Patrol through Children of the Lens, each book takes the climax from the previous volume and sets it as a starting point for building a bigger climax. By the end, we're destroying planets by hitting them with superluminal planets. Two at once. Fairly early on we destroy a planet with a synthetic mass of antimatter. These guys don't play around; they're serious.
For me the canonical editions are the mid-60s Pyramid ones. The cover for this one has a fantastic representation of the negasphere (not matching the text), and a pretty good illustration of Kim Kinnison in his space armor.