Lensmen by Edward E. Smith
The Lensman series by E.E. Smith crossed the rather timid frontiers early science fiction writers worked within and leaped far away from the H.G. Wells and Jules Verne type of science fiction. After the Skylark series, which can be said to mark the transition from old to new, the Lensman series broke away all limits of imagination.
The Lensman series set the standard for modern science fiction as we know it and was the basis on which famous authors like A.E. van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Julian May wrote their novels. Its influence can still be felt in many works. Experienced science fiction fans will notice many deja vu's while reading this series and thats what makes this series a classic.
The six novels themselves are not impressively written. Originally the seperate chapters were published in SF magazines and the success of the stories made Smith decide to rewrite the chapters to combine them into coherent novels. The action-packed events of the original chapters are still visible. The pace of the story is astounding, containing mainly of action and dialogue and little time to let the reader rest and describe certain things in more detail. The characters seem like supermen, never giving up at setbacks, always sure of themselves with crazy bravery. This can make it a hard read at times, but also funny, because certain situations just seem hilarious by the way the characters behave.
In the end the sheer magnitude of the way he writes and the many recognitions of elements from famous novels, in combination with the great imagination of E.E. Smith, make these novels an exciting but most of all an interesting read.