I read this book about 10-Mar-2007. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1934. This note was last modified Monday, 19-May-2014 16:38:30 PDT.
This is book 1 of the "Lensman" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
This is just the story that's presented at the end of the book Triplanetary; where Conway Costigan meets Clio Marsden, and deals with Gray Roger and Nevians and so forth. He's a member of the Triplanetary Service's Secret Service, of which Virgil Samms is the head, but Lenses haven't been passed out yet, and there isn't a Galactic Patrol.
Project Gutenberg has released the text of the 1934 Amazing Stories version, which I haven't previously read. I'd heard it said that the story was originally not in the Lensman universe, and had been adapted to fit later, so I'm reading it looking for things showing that (compared to my memory of the Lensman universe version).
So far, it's showing few revisions of any sort, and no content that clashes with Lensman materials.
In addition to Conway Costigan, Virgil Samms, Lyman Cleveland, Fred Rodebush, Knobos (of Mars), Fletcher, and Clio Marsden, there is the planet Nevia itself, and Captain Nerado, who figure in the Lensman annals. Also, there are Lewiston hand projectors, and Standish semi-portables. And there's a spherical spaceship called the Chicago, and one called the Boise (the super-ship). Also Gray Roger and his planetoid.
Differences I've noticed:
This differences list is from memory, and unless mentioned I haven't verified what I remember about later versions. It's sure to be incomplete, of course, too. Still, I figured recording the ones I noticed was a step towards understanding what changed, even if not a complete solution.
What it feels like to me is that the Lensman universe grew out of this story, rather than the story being sucked into the Lensman universe. Galactic Patrol (#3) started appearing (in a different magazine) three years later, in 1937.
The name "Secret Service" (which is mostly an OK organization in the US, but which also invokes "Secret Police" for me) and the (common to both versions) stuff about illegally preventing people from coming to trial by killing them in the field, really makes Virgil Samms look like a dangerous person. And in fact Costigan even thinks about the fact that nobody but Samms could be trusted with such power.