E. E. Smith

1890 - 1965

American writer

Frequently known as "Doc," due to the addition of "Ph.D." to his author credits in Amazing Stories, E. E. Smith is often called the "Father of Space Opera." His work is strongly identified with the beginnings of American pulp science fiction as a separate marketing genre, and did much to define its essential territory, galactic space.

In 1915 Smith began to write his first major series, beginning with The Skylark of Space. (He was assisted by Mrs. Lee Hawkins Garby, a neighbor enlisted to help with 'feminine matters' such as dialogue.) The stories were an instant hit when they began appearing in Amazing Stories in 1928. Interestingly, they premiered in the same issue as Philip Nowlan's "Armageddon — 2419 A.D.," the story that introduced Buck Rogers to the world.

Along with its sequels — Skylark Three (1930), Skylark of Valeron (1934-35) and Skylark DuQuesne (1966) — The Skylark of Space created a proper galactic forum for the exploits of the inventor/scientist/action-hero who keeps the universe safe for American values, despite the efforts of a foreign-hued villain.

Smith followed up Skylark with a second and definitive series, Lensman, that solidified his mastery of the space opera. The series was conceived as one 400,000-word novel, and divided into separate titles for publication from 1937 to 1948 in Astounding Science Fiction.

The specialty publishing houses that became active after 1945 soon put Smith's vast space-opera sagas into book form, and after his death in the 1960s a new generation made him a science fiction bestseller, first in the United States and later in the United Kingdom. Even a decade after his death, books he had begun or completed in manuscript, or had merely inspired or authorized, were published in response to his great posthumous popularity.

Selected Bibliography:
The Skylark series (1946-49, collected)
The Lensman series (1950-66)
The Best of E. E. "Doc" Smith (1975)