On Canonicity

How many Lensman books there are is a question each fan must answer for themselves, even if you exclude later additions to the series by other authors. The original magazine serial was published as four books, but there’s a fifth book that was written as an unrelated story and later rewritten as a prequel, and a sixth book that was written to bridge the first prequel and the rest of the series. There’s also a seventh book which is supposedly set in the same universe, but seems strangely unconnected, not just to the events in the other books, but also to the setting.

Now, I’m less fond of the prequels than the original stories. They have some interesting and worthwhile material, but the seams show. I have given strong consideration to not including them, or at least including them less than the original material. In the end, however, I decided that I was going to cover the material as it exists and has been published since before the signing of the Warsaw Pact, and that means that the prequels are in, full membership.

That said, I definitely will not be including that seventh book. It really isn’t part of the same story.

A Love of Problematic Things

I’m pretty sure everyone has guilty pleasures. Sometimes we enjoy a thing out of all proportion to its actual quality. Sometimes a thing of otherwise high quality includes questionable elements. One of my guilty pleasures is the science fiction classic series Lensman. I think it’s a genuinely great work, despite certain quality issues and regressive politics, but those unfortunate things are part of the text, and distinguishing them is useful as a reader.

Anyway, inspired by Ana Mardoll’s epic deconstructions of the Narnia and Xanth series, I’ve decided to try a close read of the Lensman books. I don’t have a particular goal in mind, except to spend some time getting to know an old favorite better, and see what I can discover, whether delightful or distressing. If my thoughts can entertain, intrigue, or spark discourse among others, that would be icing.