E.E. "Doc" Smith, First Historian of the Lens
The significance of the Lensman series cannot be overestimated. In 1966 it was nominated for a special Hugo Award as "Best All-Time Series." It was the first multi-volume science fiction novel ever published – conceived from the beginning as a single story line. From our viewpoint here in the future, Doc's courage is not obvious. We have seen many interminable series, designed never to end. Once parts of Doc's story had appeared in the pulps, though, he could not expect them ever to be reprinted. But the First Historian of Civilization planned a story with the full scope and range of his imagination, and wrote it with the drive it deserved.
Edward Elmer Smith was born in 1890. In 1915, he married Jeanne MacDougall and began collaborating on The Skylark of Space. In 1918, he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and later became Chief Chemist for a company specializing in doughnut mixes. He had three children, Verna, Clarrissa and Roderick. During World War II, he was head of the Inspection Division of an ordnance plant at a laboratory called "Outer Siberia," but was fired for refusing to pass substandard shells. Doc was a master of many professions including lumberjack and carpenter, cereal and explosives chemist, chemical and mechanical engineer, metallurgist, blacksmith and machinist, hardrock miner, photographer, and cook. In university, he captained a crack drill and rifle team, sang in Gilbert and Sullivan light operas, and was president of the mandolin and guitar club. The remarkable skills of Doc's characters are sometimes hard to believe. Doc made them as capable as he, and Doc was a starkly incredible man.
Doc was Guest of Honor at the Second World Science Fiction Convention, and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame at the 21st Worldcon. He was a true fan. At the second Worldcon, he attended the masquerade in his leather motorcycle garb with a homemade raygun as a C.L. Moore character, Northwest Smith. He contributed frequently to fan magazines.
On 31 August 1965, the First Historian suddenly left this plane of existence; his friend Robert Heinlein reported that he had "urgent business a long way off, no time to spare to tell us more stories."