Smith, E.E. ‘Doc'

A US food chemist specializing in doughnut mixes, and author, often called the "Father of Space Opera"; because Hugo Gernsback appended "PhD" to Smith's name for his contributions to Amazing from 1928, he also became known as "Doc" Smith. Greatly influential in US Pulp-magazine SF between 1928 and about 1945. We love the fact that when writing the first novel of his Skylark series Mrs Lee Hawkins Garby, a neighbour, was seconded to help with feminine matters such as dialogue! 


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      Smith published two novelettes entitled "Tedric" in Other Worlds Science Fiction Stories (1953) and "Lord Tedric" in Universe Science Fiction (1954). These were almost completely forgotten until after Smith's death. In 1975, a compendium of Smith's works was published, entitled The Best of E. E. "Doc" Smith, containing these two short stories, excerpts from several of his major works, and another short story first published in Worlds of If in 1964 entitled "The Imperial Stars".

In Smith's original short stories, Tedric was a smith (both blacksmith and whitesmith) residing in a small town near a castle in a situation roughly equivalent to England of the 1200s. He received instruction in advanced metallurgy from a time-traveler who wanted to change the situation in his own time by modifying certain events of the past. From this instruction, he was able to build better suits of armor and help defeat the villains of the piece. Unlike Eklund's later novels based on these short stories, the original Tedric never left his own time or planet, and fought purely local enemies of his own time period.

A few years later and 13 years after Smith's death, Verna Smith arranged with Gordon Eklund to publish another novel of the same name about the same fictional character, introducing it as "a new series conceived by E. E. 'Doc' Smith". Eklund later went on to publish the other novels in the series, one or two under the pseudonym "E. E. 'Doc' Smith" or "E. E. Smith". The protagonist possesses heroic qualities similar to those of the heroes in Smith's original novels and can communicate with an extra-dimensional race of beings known as the Scientists, whose archenemy is Fra Villion, a mysterious character described as a dark knight, skilled in whip-sword combat, and evil genius behind the creation of a planetoid-sized "iron sphere" armed with a weapon capable of destroying planets. As a result, Smith is believed by many to be the unacknowledged progenitor of themes that would appear in Star Wars. In fact, however, these appear in the sequels written by others after Smith's death.