In January 1936, a time period where doc Smith was already an established science-fiction writer, he took a job for salary plus profit-sharing, as a food technologist (a cereal chemist) at the Dawn Doughnut Company of Jackson, Michigan.
He had been contemplating writing a "space-police novel" since early 1927; once he had "the Lensmen's universe fairly well set up", he reviewed his science-fiction collection for "cops-and-robbers" stories. Tremaine responded extremely positively to a brief description of the idea.
Once Dawn Doughnuts became profitable in late 1936, Smith wrote an 85-page outline for what became the four core Lensman novels; in early 1937, Tremaine committed to buying them. Segmenting the story into four novels required considerable effort to avoid dangling loose ends; After the outline was complete, he wrote a more detailed outline of Galactic Patrol. After completing the rough draft of Galactic Patrol, he wrote the concluding chapter of the last book in the series, Children of the Lens. Galactic Patrol was published in the September 1937 through February 1938 issues of Astounding; unlike the revised book edition, it was not set in the same universe as Triplanetary. Gray Lensman, the fourth book in the series, appeared in Astounding's October 1939 through January 1940 issues.
Smith worked for the US Army between 1941 and 1945. An extended segment in the novel version of Triplanetary, set during World War II, suggests intimate familiarity with explosives and munitions manufacturing. Some biographers cite as fact that, just as Smith's protagonist in this segment lost his job over failure to approve substandard munitions, Smith did, as well. Smith began work for the J. W. Allen Company (a manufacturer of doughnut and frosting mixes) in 1946 and worked for them until his professional retirement in 1957.
Titles in series
- 01 - Triplanetary (1948)
- 02 - First Lensman (1950)
- 03 - Galactic Patrol (1950)
- 04 - Gray Lensman (1951)
- 05 - Second Stage Lensmen (1953)
- 06 - Children Of The Lens (1954)
- 07 - Masters Of The Vortex (1968)