Why is the Noreascon 4 committee so obsessed with Doc Smith and the Lensman saga? Why is Kimball Kinnison on the cover of Progress Report 3? Heck, why are there Boston conventions called Boskone and Arisia?
The simple answer is "because they are fun". The almost-as-simple answer is because they bring us back to the same sense of adventure, and universe ranging possibility that E.E. Smith's intergalactic sagas brought to the SF community back in 1928, with Skylark of Space, followed a few years later by his much loved stories of the Galactic Patrol. Doc Smith invented space opera, the memes of which sit deeply below the skin of trufen everywhere. We all want to be the good guys, blasting evil with our Lens. We want to cruise the spaceways, with never ending revelations of new worlds, new species, new highly intelligent life forms to meet. We want to believe that all sentients are brothers, regardless of how many tentacles they have or what funky air they breathe. The universe should not be malevolent, except occasionally, and problems should be solvable by smart scientists, with hard work, and a little luck.
Doc Smith was a terrific guy. He was a treasure of the community, gracious and outgoing. Doc had his own Gray Lensman costume much like the cover art, and would wear it at conventions. He was of the community, and engaged in all its pleasures. He wrote he corresponded he attended conventions he dressed up in costume he talked to fans and pros. He was respected and beloved.
Until Doc Smith started writing, SF was constrained to a smaller scale. We had invasions, and explorations, and more than one hollow earth, but we lacked the limitless void. We don't want to go back.
If you haven't met Clarissa MacDougall or Kimball Kinnison, pick up a copy of Gray Lensman. If Doc's prose strikes you as a little dated, pick up something by one of his admirers, like Jack Williamson. And if that's not to your taste, settle back some time and raise a hand in salute to Star Trek, or Farscape. QX?
So as we planned the bid for Noreascon 4, the Galactic Patrol, the Lensmen, Doc Smith and the entire Space Opera riff came to represent the playful, optimistic, naive yet idealistic part of science fiction that we all fell in love with during our own Golden Ages. It was, to our mind, a perfect theme for the bid. As we plan Noreascon 4, it's still irresistible. We have a lot to celebrate at Noreascon 4. We have great Guests of Honor, a terrific host city, and a long and slightly rakish tradition to uphold. We also remain the children of the lens.
From Noreascon 4 Progress Report 3