Saturday, 2 June 2001

David A. Kyle: Z-Lensman (1983)

Edition: Bantam, 1983
Review number: 831

The culmination of Kyle's trilogy continuing E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series concentrates on the second stage lensman Nadreck, from the Pluto-like planet Palain VII. (He is a Z-lensman because in a classification scheme for sentient beings in which humans are A, his species is of type Z, very alien indeed.) He is instrumental in seeing off several threats to civilization, including rebellious machines and psychic forces.

As with his earlier attempts at the continuation, Kyle is unable to make Z-Lensman match up to the original series. Nadreck is not sufficiently strange (this accusation could be levelled at the original novels, but it is not as severe a problem when he is not the central character), and his human helpers are interchangeable. Introducing the idea of survival after death doesn't work very well, especially as it forms an unnecessary addition to an already complicated plot. The writing is disjointed and leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of the sense of wonder and enthusiasm which is such an important part of Smith's own writing. Only worthwhile if, like me, you are something of a collector.

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