Smith had originally planned to cover the Lensman epic in four novels — Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman and Children of the Lens. These books were so well received that Smith went back to a series of unrelated stories he had published as a serial in Amazing Stories in 1934 and reworked it as a Lensman prequel to be published as a novel by Fantasy Press. The following summary is from the 1948 hardcover first edition. The chapter about World War II, at least, could not have been present in the original serialization.


Doc Smith's summary

The following summary comes from the review at the start of Gray Lensman.

The Elders of Arisia, however, the ablest thinkers of the race, had known and had studied the Eddorians for many cycles of time. Their integrated Visualization of the Cosmic All showed what was to happen. No more than the Arisians themselves could the Eddorians be slain by any physical means, however applied; nor could the Arisians, unaided, kill all of the invaders by mental force. Eddore's All-Highest and his Innermost Circle, in their ultra-shielded citadel, could be destroyed only by a mental bolt of such nature and magnitude that its generator, which was to become known throughout two galaxies as the Galactic Patrol, would require several long Arisian lifetimes for its building.

Nor would that building be easy. The Eddorians must be kept in ignorance, both of Arisia and of the proposed generator, until too late to take effective counter-measures. Also, no entity below the third level of intelligence, ever - or especially? - of the Patrol, could ever learn the truth; for that knowledge would set up an inferiority complex and thus rob the generator of all ability to do the work for which it was designed.

Nevertheless the Arisians began building. On the four most promising planets of the First Galaxy - our Earth or Sol Three, Velantia, Rigel Four, and Palain Seven - breeding programs, aiming toward the highest mentality of which each race was capable, were begun as soon as intelligent life developed.

On our Earth there were only two blood lines, since humanity has only two sexes. One was a straight male line of descent, and was always named Kinnison or its equivalent Civilizations rose and fell; Arisia surreptitiously and unobtrusively lifting them up, Eddore callously knocking them down as soon as it became evident that they were not what Eddore wanted. Pestilences raged, and wars, and famines, and holocausts and disasters that decimated entire populations again and again, but the direct male line of descent of the Kinnisons was never broken.

The other line, sometimes male and sometimes female, which was to culminate in the female penultimate of the Arisian program, was equally persistent and was characterized throughout its prodigious length by a peculiarly spectacular shade of red-bronze-auburn hair and equally striking gold-flecked, tawny eyes. Atlantis fell, but the redheaded, yelloweyed child of Captain Phryges had been sent to North Maya, and lived. Patroclus, the red-headed gladiator, begot a red-headed daughter before he was cut down. And so it went.

World Wars One, Two, and Three. occupying as they did only a few moments of Arisian-Eddorian time, formed merely one incident in the eons-long game. That incident was important, however, because immediately after it Gharlane of Eddore made what proved to be an error. Knowing nothing of the Arisians, or of what they had done to raise the level of intelligence of mankind, he assumed that the then completely ruined Earth would not require his personal attention again for many hundreds of Tellurian years, and went elsewhere: to Rigel Four, to Palain Seven, and to Velantia Two, or Delgon, where he found that his creatures, the Overlords, were not progressing satisfactorily. He spent quite a little time there; time during which the men of Earth, aided almost openly by the Arisians, made a phenomenally rapid recovery from the ravages of atomic warfare and fantastically rapid advances in both sociology and technology.

Virgil Samms, the auburn-haired, tawny-eyed Crusader who was to become the first wearer of Arisia's Iens, took advantage of the general demoralization to institute a really effective planetary police force. Then, with the advent of inter-planetary flight, he was instrumental in forming the Interplanetary League. As head of the Triplanetary Service, he took a leading part in the brief war with the Nevians, a race of highly intelligent amphibians who used allotropic iron as a source of atomic power.

Gharlane of Eddore came back to the Solarian System as Gray Roger, the enigmatic and practically immortal scourge of space, only to find his every move blocked - blocked so savagely and so completely that he could not even kill two ordinary human beings, Conway Costigan and Clio Marsden. Nor were these two, in spite of some belief to the contrary, anything but what they seemed. Neither of them ever knew that they were being protected; but Gharlane's blocker was in fact an Arisian fusion - the four-ply mentality which was to become known to every Lensman of the Galactic Patrol as Mentor of Arisia.

The Fantasy Press edition of Triplanetary sold for $3 in 1948. 287 pages.