IS "MASTERS OF THE VORTEX" PART OF THE SERIES?
F. Orlin Tremaine, the editor who'd left "ASTOUNDING" in 1938, was working on a new magazine, "COMET," which was having major financial and circulation problems. Tremaine asked Smith if he could help out. Since Smith couldn't sell a "Lensman" novel to a competitor of "ASTOUNDING," he came up with the idea for a different series, set in the same universe. Unfortunately, Tremaine's ballyhooing of the new EES series didn't get the magazine out of the red in time. "THE VORTEX BLASTER" appeared in the the *last* issue of "COMET", in July, 1941. This story is about the first 25 pages of the hardbound book. John Campbell, the editor of "ASTOUNDING," reportedly took a dim view of this situation, since Tremaine had bragged, in print, about how he was going to drive "ASTOUNDING" out of business. Campbell once said he felt that EES's loyalty to a friend who wasn't that good an editor was mis-placed, and constituted a kind of underhanded use of "ASTOUNDING"'s material to support the competition. While Campbell loudly supported competition, it may be noteworthy that EES (with the exception of "CHILDREN OF THE LENS," six years later) made only one other sale to "ASTOUNDING." ("SUBSPACE EXPLORERS," July 1960.) More "VORTEX BLASTER" stories, the stories "STORM CLOUD ON DEKA" and "THE VORTEX BLASTER MAKES WAR," appeared in "ASTONISHING STORIES" in June and October of 1942. With no major markets paying full rates for the V.B. stories, EES telescoped the multi-volume outline into something that would fit into one book, and the three published stories became the first sections of the book. One character, Vesta the Vegian, is very appealing, and one of his best-realized alien characters.
"THE VORTEX BLASTER" ..first hardback edition, Gnome Press, 1960.
(According to Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, the normal printing schedule was inverted, so the tiny (about 300 copies) Fantasy Press edition, with the better binding and paper, was actually the *second* printing.) Due to the way contract rights had been assigned on the first story, it was available for solo reprint in collections; it appeared in "MODERN MASTERPIECES OF SCIENCE FICTION," World Publishers, 1965, and was the lead story in a MacFadden-Bartell paperback, "THE VORTEX BLASTERS & OTHER STORIES," in 1968. I've been told that the folks at Pyramid, in an attempt to avoid competition with another book carrying the same title, elected to use the new title, "MASTERS OF THE VORTEX," on their reprint of the Gnome Press novel, and that this is why the title continued to appear.
Question 3(A): Where does "VORTEX BLASTER" fit into the "Lensman" sequence? Ron Ellik has observed: "The events of 'The Vortex Blaster' are not decidedly before or after "Children Of The Lens" -- Kim appears as an executive, not merely as The Lensman, and Haynes is still at his desk although we know that Raoul LaForge had been appointed Port Admiral by the time of the Battle of Ploor. Nothing conclusive -- the important thing is that VB forms a parenthesis in the stories of the Lens universe, as it is not concerned with the Eddorian conflict." This proves not to be the case. Scholars of the Lens have spotted a number of valid internal dating clues. Although the "VORTEX BLASTER" novel is not specifically dated, and does not appear to refer to specific events during the final part of the Arisian-Eddorian war, the relative quietness of the galaxy seems to indicate that it takes place subsequent to "SSL." Scott Drellishak (email@example.com) points out that VB definitely dates after GL by at least a few months, and probably after SSL, on the basis of the following points: After GL--- In Chapter 6 of VB, there are references to superdreadnoughts and primary beams, both of which were developed during GL. When Cloud gets an arm shot off, it is regenerated using the Phillips Process, also developed during GL. Availability of this treatment to a civilian employee of the Galactic Patrol implies at least a few months have passed since GL. After SSL--- Lensman Phil Strong says "You're the most-wanted man in the galaxy, not excepting Kimball Kinnison." This implies Kinnison is now a public figure, Coordinator Kinnison of Klovia, no longer a secret agent. Drellishak also points out that VB characters always speak of one galaxy, not two, which might date it before SSL. (I feel this just means the other galaxy isn't yet public information.) Dani Zweig ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) adds that it does look like Kinnison is already Galactic Coordinator. "The fact that he can undertake a search for someone to help or replace Storm is more telling than the fact that he is the most wanted man in Civilization." Alan Young, (email@example.com), points out that since, on page 38 of "THE VORTEX BLASTER," shortly after Cloud gets his arm blown off, there is mention of Lonabarian gems; this implies that several years have passed since the demise of Menjo Bleeko in SSL, because knowledge of Lonabar and its gems has become public knowledge. Young also notes that in "THE VORTEX BLASTER," page 51, the Dhilians are introduced to the GP civilization for the first time; and that in "CHILDREN OF THE LENS," page 91, the Dhilians are sufficiently well-known that Kathryn can compare a summer-form Plooran to one. Thanks to these points, it's fairly obvious that that VB occurs at at some point between SSL and COTL.
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