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Book Note: Edward E. Smith, Masters of the Vortex #2

I read this book about 15-Aug-2003. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1960. This note was last modified Saturday, 19-Aug-2006 10:46:05 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Grabbed this when I grabbed the last two mainline Lensman books, and I think I'll go ahead and read it (again). The chances that I will find anything either new or interesting to say about it are pretty slim, though.

Hey! For some reason I've been overlooking this for years, but this is another Smith book with a strong language element. (You may remember that in the Skylark books, Seaton defends his customary mode of speech quite eloquently when challenged. In the Lensman books, the space operas written by Sybley White are brilliant bits of self-parody by Smith.) In this one there's the lingua franca of the region, "Spaceal", which some of the characters use to communicate, and which Vesta learns, and which she and Joan and Storm discuss quite a bit. Then there's the fun he has with the Tommingan language -- Judge Rose Trellis of the enchanting vistas, or whatever that is. And the worst word in the language, meaning roughly descended from untold generations of dwellers in stinking, unfruitful, mud.

No doubt about it, this is certainly a "playing with language" book.

I wonder when it's set in time. Strong Lenses Kinnison at one point, and he's also referred to when the requests for Cloud start coming in. Kinnison appears to be Galactic Coordinator — but that's a position for the other galaxy, so I'm not sure why he's involved with this. (Cloud and the vortex control laboratory are clearly on Tellus.) There's also a reference to Van Buskirk (about his being good with a spaceaxe). Surgeon-Marshall Lacey appears briefly, too (and comments favorably on Cloud's skeleton). They say that piracy isn't a common problem any more since the fall of Boskone. So, overall, I think the diagnosis has to be that this is a post-Arisian story; after the real end of the war against the Eddorians.

I wonder why the excellent Manarkan telepaths, including the two Fives, the most knowledgable around, don't ever get involved with the Lensmen? Many of them could certainly use some training! And they started using Valentian lensmen to find spies — could they have used Manarkans even earlier? They comment that Cloud's mind is a level beyond any Lensman's mind they know about. Do they know about the Second Stage lensmen? Do they know about the Children of the Lens? It seems nearly certain that they do. They're studying this stuff, and this is a can't-lie-with-your-mind universe. And the lensmen would realize they were trustworthy. Do they know about the Arisians? Perhaps not.

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David Dyer-Bennet