Superdeformed's Journey into Science Fiction
The Lensman Series: Introduction and Triplanetary

For my first audiobook I chose Triplanetary by Edward E. Smith, the "first" book in the Lensman series. Lensman was first brought to my attention by my local Blockbuster video back in the summer of 1994. I was just getting into the whole Japanimation thing and by this point I've rented most of the "Action Animation" section. I was looking in the 'videos for sale' section and I came across Streamline Pictures' Video Comics™ release of the 1984 Lensman feature. This was the first Anime I have ever purchased. Up until that point I was renting tapes and recording them. Yes, I was a horrible video pirate, please turn me in to the MPAA.

The Lensman Anime movie was the first directing gig for an up and coming Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the know, that crazy guy who directed Wicked City and Ninja Scroll. The movie itself was very conservative in comparison to the bat shit insane stuff he would do later, but it was still entertaining.

Triplanetary was originally a series of short stories published in Hugo Gernsback's Amazing Stories magazine back in the 1930's which had nothing to do with Lensman. Smith really started Lensman with Galactic Patrol several years later. Confused? Good.

Lensman originally consisted of Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman, and finally Children of the Lens all of which Smith wrote throughout the 1940's. In the early 1950's Smith revised Triplanetary to be the origin of the universe, revised the original Lensman books and wrote a prequel to fit between Triplanetary and Galactic Patrol titled First Lensman so that they all fit together as one series. This might have paved the way for assholes like George Lucas but let's not get into that.

The first half of this book covers the back story which I assume is what Smith tacked on for it to fit into the Lensman universe. Billions of years ago our Milky Way Galaxy and another Galaxy passed through each other. As a result two ancient and powerful races came into contact with one another. From the Milky Way was the peaceful and wise Arisians and from the other galaxy the power-hungry and ruthless Eddorians.

Upon their first direct contact the Arisians realized that they could not coexist and erased the Eddorian's memory of them ever meeting. Arisia knew that they were not capable of taking out such a powerful foe and set forth to create a weapon capable to do the task, the Galactic Patrol. At the same time Eddore began their methodical invasion of the Milky Way.

The Arisians set forth massive eugenics projects among the life supporting planets, indirectly grooming the native species to fit their needs, and focusing on a few bloodlines which would later produce the main characters of the later books. The Eddorians on the other hand manipulated intelligent beings and stifled civilizations from advancing to higher levels of mental awareness.

After this basic run down of the Arisian/Eddorian relationship the book goes into five stories of the male Kinnison and the female red-haired/gold eyed female bloodlines covering the destruction of Atlantis, a failed assassination attempt on Nero, and World Wars 1,2,& 3 all of these events representing Eddorian attempts at stopping human development. The World War 2 story of a munitions expert is of some interest because some feel it was a semi-autobiographical story of Smith's own experiences during World War 2.

This part of the book usually causes people to nod off and lose interest. But what draws my attention is the detail Smith carries out in his world building he left no stone unturned in his explanation. The 5 stories of the human bloodlines were the payoff to the somewhat drawn out exposition of the Arisians and the Eddorians.

Now the book moves on to what was originally published in Amazing Stories before the retconning into Lensman. The story is now set in the near future with man branching out into space and colonizing Mars and Venus thus creating the Triplanetary League, before faster than light travel was possible.

The actual story of Triplanetary deals with the adventures of super spy Conway Costigan and his battle against the Space Pirate known as Gray Roger (who was really an Eddorian all along!) and the abrupt "power up" battle with the Nevians, an Alien race who was in need of Iron and possessed faster than light travel. The conflict and eventual alignment with the Nevians resulted in humanity obtaining faster than light travel and more powerful weapons which Costigan and the Triplanetary Secret Service was then able to use on the Eddorian-controlled Gray Roger in the climatic battle.

Triplanetary would also introduce red haired/golden eyed Virgil Samms and Roderick Kinnison who would play bigger roles in the following book First Lensman. Sams and Kinnison were the heads of the Triplanetary Secret Service. After the defeat of Roger, Samms began to formulate the ultimate defense force, the Galactic Patrol. Just as planned.

While the human (and alien) characters were pulpy and not all that deep the real stars of the book was Inertialess drive and Ultrawave technology. Larry Niven, Issac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein would later use these fictional technologies, or variations of them, in their books. What I also enjoyed about this book was the grand scale and the battle between opposing Godheads. I like how the interactions be it conflict or trade between the humans and the Nevians lead to innovation and refinements of both species' technology.

The real magic of Lensman, which Smith started with Triplanetary, is that while it is presented in the story it seems like a a lighthearted and pulpy tale of adventure, but then you look back over it or summarize it to a friend it sounds pretty insane. Anime, especially the older stuff, had this magical property as well, but in an even more severe fashion.

So let's break this down in very stupid colloquial.
So there's this spaceship right? And this bad dude named Gray Roger takes the ship. and the sole survivors prisoner. There's the first mate, the captain, and some chick. But wah.. the first mate is really a SPY named Conway! He totally uses his sweet ass secret spy gear to break him and his posse out. So they are like running away from the bad guy who's a SPACE PIRATE and is totally possessed by some old evil super alien from another dimension.

Anyway, motherfucker steals a spaceship and while he's running away from the bad guy's huge ass spaceship, they are all of a sudden attacked goddamn aliens, FISH ALIENS with 4 ARMS AND 4 LEGS! They take Conway and his runnin' crew's shapeship and shoots the space pirates' ships with some crazy pink light that takes away all the iron and the bitches are all left naked in space with all the iron in their blood sucked out like MAGNETO or some shit!

So the crazy fish aliens don't have iron and they have a dude searching for it and he finds a fuck ton of it in the middle of space. He sees some kind of aliens using it and he's like "punk bitches can't hang" and snatches their shit and kidnaps a few for the crazy fish alien zoo.

So being a spy and all he spies the fuck out of the Aliens and beams x-ray pictures of the Alien technology back to Earth. While all of that is happening the Aliens send a spaceship to Earth and DESTROYS PITTSBURGH! So Conway's boss who's like the head of fuckin' space ninjas inc. sends the spy photos to his mad scientists who start making a totally sweet spaceship to kick the stupid space fishes' asses.

Now our hero is stuck in a glass room all bored and shit having all these fish people looking at him. While he's sitting in his cage he uses his crazy spy ray to study how they drive their cars and spaceships and stuff. He acts depressed and bored the fish people give him his gear from his space ship so he can pass the time. He makes poison, breaks out of his cell and KILLS OFF AN ENTIRE CITY.

He gets in a spaceship, WIPES OUT 2 MORE CITIES to free his friends and they fly back to Earth with the aliens hot on their trail. Halfway home they meet up with the new bad-ass Earth ship and they fight the Aliens to a draw. The Aliens are like "oh sorry dawg you people are all smart and shit, we cool, we don't value life and all that, lets trade stuff and be all you know indifferent and shit."

So after getting the hook up of Alien technology. mankind thinks things are cool, but Gray roger comes back bigger and badder than ever because you know because he's possessed by evil super aliens and shit. But, he didn't know the Earth got even stronger from all the dope shit they got from the fish aliens. So they kick his ass until he's dead, Conway and his girl make out and they live happily ever after.

Yeah that didn't work so well for Triplanetary but it'll work so much better for the rest of the series. They make a planet cannon that shoots out actual planets for god's sake!

Next time on 'Superdeformed's Journey into Science Fiction' ... The rest of Lensman


5 Anime for Peoples Who Hate the Japanese and Their Lousy Cartoons

Japanimation was once the super-slick state of the art entertainment medium that was taking the world by storm. Today, not so much. The coke-induced fantasies of the Japanese bubble economy, that got many people like myself into the art form, gave way to a transition period of "HOLY SHIT WE'RE FUCKED!" as the bubble popped. Today Japanese Cartoons sit in the corner rocking back and forth thinking "happy thoughts" to itself as it laments it's lost childhood and dreaming of banging it's kid sister.

Yes it has become pretty shameful to be into this crap. After seeing this I've decided to curb the shame with a list of Anime for different types of people. I'm sure other Japanimation Otaku will disagree, but that's what comment sections are for!

List 1: High Schoolers

Most Anime fans today are high schoolers. These shameless little demons swarm conventions like locusts and eat away any form of social order and human decency that might have been present before, though I cannot confirm if either of those things were ever there in the first place. Keeping this in mind and the fact that high schools have "anime clubs" now this list will be pretty standard fare for most Anime Fans.

5. Dragon Ball Z
4. Trigun
3. Naruto
2. Death Note
1. Bleach

List 2: Fundamentalist Christians

Like teenagers screaming internet memes and wearing signs begging for sexual favors (see List 1) Fundies love to suck away any source of joy and/or common sense out of the world. This lot blindly believes that a collection of books, a bible, was written by some deity and not scribbled down oral traditions like countless other collections similar in themes. Anyway, is Japanese cartoons right for them? Of course it is! GOD made it!

5. Saint Tail
4. Evangelion
3. Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gotaman
2. The Mysterious Cities of Gold
1. SuperBook

List 3: Stay-at-home Mothers

Moms. You've got to love them. Got to love them even more if they stay home with the kids all day. I am so sorry As The World Turns was canceled. But worry not! Turn off the Judge Judy and watch these visual delights!

5. Kaasan - Mom's Life
4. Sailor Moon
3. Code Geass
2. Rose of Versailles
1. Revolutionary Girl Utena

List 4: Film Buffs

These poor souls tend to be un(or under) employed and have squandered away their time in college on a useless film degree. Talking to them about movies is depressing on many levels, not only has their training utterly demystified the art but whatever you like is WRONG.

5. Ghost in the Shell
4. Cowboy Bebop
3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
2. Perfect Blue
1. Akira

List 5: Serial Killers

If you've been into Japanese cartoons as long as I have, you might have wondered why Japan is not over flowing with these guys. Anime, Manga, and Japanese film has some pretty sick shit going on in them. Maybe these things are an outlet for those urges and calms down the crazy killer types so they can go to work the next day. Oh wait a minute. Silly me. I forgot everyone in Japan was unemployed. Well hopefully they can occupy themselves by watching these cartoons instead of, you know, killing people.

5. Death Note
4. SuperBook
3. Crying Freeman
2. Urotosukidoji
1. Doomed Megalopolis


Well, there is my list of 5 lists. To sum it up, lists are bullshit. That's right! I'm a complete sham! A Hack! People like stuff for various reasons, typically they go with the herd, but some people actually have opinions and godbless them for it.

Anime is not popular with the public at large, never has been really. People just know what Anime is now. I'm sure we can cherry pick a few shows that might appeal to the masses but they are in short supply and they are just as hit or miss in terms of catching on as anything else ever made in Hollywood.

Sure, everyone and their mom loved Cowboy Bebop, Princess Mononoke, and Vampire Hunter D. However, some of the Anime I have shown to my non-anime-fan friends, which they liked, are the ones that I would not have guessed they would have liked in the first place. I've shown Captain Tylor and Gunbuster to a few of my friends on a whim, mainly because I felt like watching them, and they've fallen in love with those shows. One of my friends and I talked about Evangelion a lot and got a good number of our non-anime-fan friends into it as a result.

As fans it is not our job to market this stuff aggressively. We're just here to enjoy it and if some friends want to come along for the ride then that's even better.


Superdeformed's Journey into Science Fiction

For those who do not know, I happen to have a dark secret in my past. You see, as a child I failed the forth grade and barely passed the third grade before that. This puzzled my parents and most adults who know me because I was a pretty smart (nerdy) kid. Most of my public school teachers would say, "HE LAZY" (their words mind you) but the few teachers who've actually taken the time to know me were perplexed as well.

I'd always turn in assignments late and/or never keep up with people on tests and reading assignments. It was never a lack of trying I'd stay up til midnight doing homework that I started as soon as cartoons ended for the day (5pm). After a while I'd just skip it anyway and make up for it on tests. But this was all not enough for the 4th grade.

The summer after that dreaded school year my mother took me to an Optometrist. We quickly learned I had Strabismus. I did not a crazy case to where I looked cross-eyed or something like that, I also had 20/20 vision, but it was just enough to where I'd naturally want to read the same sentence over and over. Once I was diagnosed a lot of things about me made sense, why I had a hard time looking people in the eye (it was assumed shyness), why it'd take me hours to read a page of a book, why I was such a slow writer, why I'd literally want to pass out while I did homework and why I'd alway lean my head to the side when I focused on anything.

So after a Summer of eye therapy and I returned to the 4th grade and was on the A/B honor roll the entire year, the rest of my school life I hovered around a C average since I was more interested in other things and I had a pretty turbulent home life. I fucked off for a few years after high school, never intended to go to college, but eventually I went and got my Computer Science degree.

I'm not completely and utterly cured of the Strabismus. I'm still a slow reader and it still wears me out after a while. I guess that's why the fickle nature of the internet has always appealed to me, reading is done in short bursts here. I've always enjoyed being read to I liked stories in long form but unless I had an assignment and a deadline to push me, I have a hard time reading a book. I can never get in a comfortable position and after 10 minutes my eyes will get heavy. After about 2 paragraphs I will notice I'll want to start rereading a sentence and I'll have to close my eyes and remember my old eye exercises and reorientate. Still, I am faster than I was prediagnosis but it's still exhausting.

After college I had no classes requiring me to read, I've grown tired of most Japanese cartoons, and skimming Wikipedia made me long for actually reading the source materials for what my favorite movies and cartoons were influenced or based on. I've always pondered to myself "I should read more" but never get around to it or I've tried a few times and stopped. Then one day it all clicked. I realized why I don't read that much (see above) and it occurred to me I should try audiobooks. Maybe Leo Laporte's Audible ads brainwashed me.

Initially I was a little apprehensive. I wondered if I'd lose anything by not seeing the words or if the reader's performance would mar my perception of the story. After the first book I didn't find any of those problems. I was able to listen to the books during idle times at work, when I was doing the overly mundane kind of tasks I have to do everyday at work, or on my daily commute. Win win since I feel like I have decades of reading to catch up on.

Next time on 'Superdeformed's Journey into Science Fiction' ... Lensman