Though "Doc" Smith's title was strictly honorary, he nonetheless brought a very scientific outlook to his tales, and helped to birth science fiction as we now know it with his writings in the early part of the 20th century.

Smith is best known for his Lensman series, as well as the four-book Skylark saga. Though his novels had a very pulp feel to them, and some of his predictions were laughable (such as advanced electronic computers with 8 whole K of memory), Smith wrote what could easily be considered hard science fiction for his day...many of his inventions like the inertialess drive were predicated on nullifying a particular law of physics to observe the consequences. Charles Sheffield's McAndrews Chronicles feels very much like a homage to this facet of Smith's work.

Edward Earl Smith Earned his PHD in chemical engineering from George Washington University. He worked most of his adult life in the food industry before turning his goals towards science fiction with the writing of 'Skylark of Space', completed in 1919.

He didn't believe the story would be a success without romance and was uncomfortable writing this. He enlisted the aid of his neighbors wife Lee Hawkins Garby to pen the romantic dialogue. It took eight years for a publisher to take interest in the manuscript and was eventually serialised in 'Amazing Stories.'

Doc Smith wasn't the first science fiction writer, he wasn't the best science fiction writer, but he did pioneer the Space Opera. The scale of his books was unprecedented in science fiction and the engrossing nature of the story kept fans coming back for more than 40 years. Earl died September 1st 1965 at the age of 75.

Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia 1995 Dorling Kindersley Limited, London p. 123,E.E.Doc.php3

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