S.F. classic "Lensman" moves to the desktop

Long before Luke Skywalker was a gleam in George Lucas' eyes -- long before Kirk and Spock ever stepped inside a transporter room -- there was Lensman Kimball Kinnison, the hero of E.E. "Doc" Smith's classic "Lensman" series. Smith's gadget-filled galactic sagas defined the genre of "space opera" for generations of young science-fiction readers.

Though Smith's books are sporadically available in paperback, they're the kind of thing you can't count on finding on a store shelf, even at a specialty shop or superstore (though you can find them at online shops like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com). Now online book publisher 1stbooks is making Smith's series available in downloadable, all-electronic form -- beginning with "Triplanetary," the 1934 intro to the "Lensman" series, for $6.95.

Can book lovers do without the feel of paper and the crack of a binding? Can Internet distribution lead to a revival in the availability of beloved obscurities? 1stbooks is one place to look for the answer.
-- Scott Rosenberg
SALON | Dec. 23, 1998

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