Edward Elmer “Doc” Smith, was an actual Ph.d who invented the science-fiction genre “space opera”. When he was in his Clark Kent role, he was a chemical engineer who worked for a doughnut factory, Dawn Doughnut Company. But he is better remembered for sci-fi stories like; Triplanetary, The Skylark of Space, Subspace Encounter, and Spacehounds of IPC, the list goes on.

Doc Smith’s contribution to the genre were techno-babble terms like protective shield, mothership, Lifeboat, force field, flying wing and a host of others. Clearly Star Trek and Star Wars owe their techno-babble to Smith.

I personally have never read any of his work and I only recently discovered a free online library of it. But because I’m a historian at heart, I think that Smith’s books are still relevant to this era of ever increasing technology and knowledge as we race toward the the cliff of oblivion, or something greater than ourselves.

Cover art link
Link for story


5 responses

  1. Any cover art or online pulp mag links would be greatly appreciated.

  2. ‘Doc’ Smith ? Now that’s a find!

  3. Hi dad2059…

    Thanks for the “Doc’ Smith article. It instantly reminded me of John Woods Campbell, one my favoriate Sci-Fi writers who even inspried Isaac Asmimov and received kudos from Asimov himself for his superb contributions to what he referred to as the super-science fiction genre’ of novel.

    Cambell in addition to being a writer for 34 years was also the editor of “Astounding Science Fiction” in which many of Doc’s writings appeared.

    One of my all time favorite reads is “Invaders from the Infinite” by John W. Cambell. Rather than for us just to talk about great sci-fi I thought I’d supply a Wiki bio on Campbell along with free Project Gutenberg copy of Invaders from the infinite which folks can simply do a select>copy> paste and then enjoy this novel with it’s incredible super-scientific ideas such as solidified light; Lux an Relux among other ideas. Also the description of traveling at mega-warp speeds to virtually devour the inky depths of space between galaxies is tittillating too. The solidified light idea is similar to neutronium a material constructed of pure neutrons from Star Trek that could absorb photon torpedo energies or anything other energies like a super-absorbant sponge. It also reminds me of Krel steel that was part of the movie, “Forbidden Planet” starring Walter Pigeon and Anne Francis et. al., a 1956 release I believe which also starrted “Robby the Robot”. They shot their blasters at the metal for length of time and it remained cool to the touch, amazing rescue ships captain played by Leslie Nielson.

    ‘Doc’ Smith Wiki bio link

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. Without Doc Smith, there wouldn’t have been any ‘Beam Me Up” or ‘Engage’!

    No light-sabers or ‘Luke, I’m your father’ either.

  5. John W. Campbell Jr, (1910-1971) besides being the editor of Astounding/Analog Science Fiction/Fact (1937-1971) was the author under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart of Who Goes There?, which was the basis for the movies The Thing From Another World(1951) and The Thing(1982).

    During his editorship of Astounding not only was he an influence on Asimov, but he bought many works from Heinlein, van Vogt and Sturgeon.

    Clearly ‘Doc’ Smith had an influence on Campbell, who in turn had an influence on the above future masters of sci-fi.

    Maybe in the future I will give Campbell his own write-up.

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