Civilization is one of the two superpowers in the Lensverse, and is opposed to Boskone. Having been created several hundred years after a 20th Century Third World War, it is hundreds of years old by the time of Kimball Kinnison and the book Galactic Patrol. Although describing a coalition of millions of species is difficult, it is perhaps best described as a highly militarised, libertarian meritocracy, and appears to work in spite of the inherent contradictions such a system would be expected to have.
Location & Size
Civilization is spread throughout both the First and Second Galaxies (the Milky Way and Lundmark's Nebula), although both galaxies still have large uncharted territories. It is however one of the larger factions in science fiction, with over sixty billion planets by Children of the Lens.
Civilization is composed of practically every kind of alien imaginable, from humans and near-humans to palainians, creatures that live on worlds like Pluto and which have parts of their anatomy extending into additional dimensions of space. Despite the enormous diversity however, practically all member worlds accept the ideals of individual liberty and sexual equality. It should be noted that the latter does not mean the same as it does in today's world: there do not seem to be any women manning the Galactic Patrol's warships or working as space marines for example. Planets also have a "tech level" that appears to define exactly what the local population may see in terms of Galactic Patrol science and technology without the proper authorisation, apparently in order to prevent problems related to unintended technology transfers and the like. No world or species had ever tried to leave Civilization, prior to Kandron's psychological warfare prior to and during Children of the Lens.
In the Lensverse, telepathy acts as a universal language, and although there are popular languages amongst those species that can speak them (versions of English and Spanish being popular for example), there is nothing like an official language.
Most planetary issues are usually dealt with by the government and judicial system of the planet in question (and these systems can and do of course vary greatly), but interplanetary and intersystemic issues are handled by the Galactic Patrol. Lensmen however are empowered to act as judge, jury, and executioner in the name of the Galactic Patrol, and in at least one case have performed all three in a murder trial.
Most of Civilization's population appears to live on planets, although given the prevalence of artificial gravity and scale of Civilization this may not hold true in all cases. Large asteroids have also been colonised, for example by meteor miners working in asteroid belts.
Civilization is known to have a large and well-developed interplanetary and intersystemic trade system, attacks on which were, until the events in Galactic Patrol, the primary means of attack that Boskone employed in its campaign against Civilization. When Civilization began to rearm against this threat, it was revealed that the top rate of income tax was 3.592%, and that the only reason it was not lower was because of Boskonian commerce raiding forcing the Galactic Patrol to spend money on commerce protection. It is unknown how far the tax rate rose due to the Patrol's military build-up, or if it even rose at all, given the financial reserves the Galactic Patrol had built up.
The Arisians are the secretive backers of Civilization, and although their star system is viewed with fear (if not outright terror) by most people, they are in fact responsible for the creation of Civilization, having been manipulating events for billions of years. For further information on the Arisians, please visit their page.
The Galactic Patrol functions as both the police force, espionage agency and military of Civilization. A full overview of this organisation can be found on the Galactic Patrol page.
Lensmen are individuals drawn from potentially every species in Civilization, and given a device called a Lens by the Arisians. Although it was possible for Boskonian spies to infiltrate the Lensman recruiting program, the Arisians ensured that the only people to receive Lenses were, amongst other things, utterly incorruptible - and, almost without exception, male (the exceptions being Clarissa Kinnison, the Children of the Lens, and possibly some species with more complex sexes than a simple male / female divide). The incorruptible nature of Lensmen has resulted in them being given enormous legal powers, although in military circles they are still expected to follow the regular chain of command. For more detail on the Lensmen, please visit the Lensmen page.
Unattached (or "Gray") Lensmen are individuals who have proven themselves to be the best of the best: these individuals are effectively given a carte blanche to do whatever needs to be done, and have no superiors within Civilization. Rather than wages, they simply use the Galactic Patrol's money, and can requisition almost anything they need to if they feel it necessary.
Second Stage Lensmen
Third Stage Lensmen
These were Boskonian agents given an Eddorian version of the Lens. They were first encountered in Children of the Lens, but proved inadequate to stop Boskone's final defeat.
Speeds within a galaxy tend to be no more than 90 to 100 parsecs per hour (roughly 2.5 million times the speed of light), although in intergalactic space the speed can rise to 100,000 parsecs per hour
The Galactic Patrol has enormous shipbuilding and maintenance capabilities, being able to build, maintain, and rapidly upgrade fleets numbering in the trillions by Children of the Lens. Construction time for cruisers and other light warships may even be so low as to be measured in mere hours, going by Boskonian shipbuilding capabilities in Second Stage Lensman (the two powers had very similar technological bases).