I read this book about 7-Jul-2001. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1961. This note was last modified Saturday, 19-Aug-2006 10:45:57 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
This is a minor, obscure, Doc Smith book. It was first published as a serial in If in 1961/62. My copy is British; I've never seen a US edition, though apparently someone published one in 1976, and Jove in 1979 (and the ISFDB doesn't know about any of the book publications). I believe I've read it only once or twice before; very low for me for a Doc Smith book. I got it out to give ISFDB the publication info, and then figured I might as well read it again.
If publication order is actually writing order, this is one of his last works of fiction; only Skylark Duquesne and "The Imperial Stars" (short version) are later. (Subspace Explorers was published in 1965, but is based on "Subspace Survivors" from 1960).
It contains most of the expected tropes of (especially) late Smith: psionics in some form or other, including dirigible senses of perception active at appalling distances; close association between physical and mental perfection; nudism (naturism); and necessary genocide. And of course the perfect, eternal, connection between the right man and the right woman, an ultimately romantic notion that my poly sensibilities have to reject.
As with all his PSI-enabled books (which is, ultimately, everything but Spacehounds of IPC and the Family D'Alembert series, isn't it?), there are powers and abilities that some brains can handle and some can't. And some brains are kicked up to higher powers, but apparently others cannot be.
The protagonists stumble into and defeat an ancient evil menace, in this case a civilization working hard on making the transition to bodyless existence and hell-bent on universal domination. In the process they create a new, super-human, race, by converting themselves into "Omans", the nuclear androids left behind ages ago by the departing "Masters", possibly the ancestors of humans.
None of the characters seem to develop the punch of those in his better-known books (even Cleander Garlock or Belle Bellamy, say, from The Galaxy Primes). We don't have time to develop a real fear of the menace, and when they are removed it's too easy.
Still, Doc Smith I haven't read all the print off of is hard to come by these days.