Murray Leinster

By: Joshua Glenn
June 16, 2013

leinster

The prolific science fiction writer MURRAY LEINSTER (William Fitzgerald Jenkins, 1896–1975) is one of the few Radium Age sf authors — his first sf story, “The Runaway Skyscraper,” appeared in a 1919 issue of Argosy — who was able to find success after the mid-1930s. In fact, John W. Campbell, whose editorship of Astounding sparked the Golden Age, published a number of Leinster stories; and it’s worth noting that one of Leinster’s first editors was H.L. Mencken. During the 1920s and ’30s, the prolific Leinster rehearsed the themes — often, in contributions to Hugo Gernsback’s pulp magazines — for which he’d become well-known later. During science fiction’s so-called Golden Age, his 1934 story “Sidewise in Time” was the first alternate-history yarn… not to mention the first to pose the enduring question, “What if the South won the Civil War?” The title of Leinster’s 1945 aliens-meet-humans story “First Contact” gave us a phrase that today seems natural and inevitable. Most impressively, perhaps, Leinster’s 1946 story “A Logic Named Joe” offers a prescient look not only at home computers (“logics”) but at the interconnection of those computers via a distributed system of servers (“tanks”) which stream communications, entertainment, data access, and commerce into every home. Yes: the Internet!

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Stan Laurel, Barbara McClintock, Leroy Sievers.

READ MORE about members of the Hardboiled Generation (1894-1903).

MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: HiLoBooks homepage! | What is Radium Age science fiction? |Radium Age 100: 100 Best Science Fiction Novels from 1904–33 | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | Radium Age: Context series | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Hugo Gernsback | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin

GOLDEN-AGE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: Golden Age Sci-Fi: 75 Best Novels of 1934–1963 | Robert Heinlein | Karel Capek | William Burroughs | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Clifford D. Simak | H.P. Lovecraft | Olaf Stapledon | Philip K. Dick | Jack Williamson | George Orwell | Boris Vian | Bernard Wolfe | J.G. Ballard | Jorge Luis Borges |Poul Anderson | Walter M. Miller, Jr. | Murray Leinster | Kurt Vonnegut | Stanislaw Lem | Alfred Bester | Isaac Asimov | Ray Bradbury | Madeleine L’Engle | Arthur C. Clarke | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.

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