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Murray Leinster

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Nationality  American

Name  Murray Leinster
Role  Writer
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Born  William Fitzgerald JenkinsJune 16, 1896Norfolk, Virginia, United States (1896-06-16)
Pen name  Murray Leinster, William Fitzgerald, Louisa Carter Lee, Will F. Jenkins, Fitzgerald Jenkins
Occupation  Novelist, short story writer
Genre  Fantasy, science fiction, horror fiction, mystery fiction, Western fiction, pulp fiction
Died  June 8, 1975, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia, United States
Awards  Hugo Award for Best Novelette, Retro Hugo Award for Best Novelette
Short stories  A Logic Named Joe, First Contact, Sidewise in Time
Nominations  Hugo Award for Best Novel, Retro Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Locus Award for Best Collection
Books  A Logic Named Joe, The Pirates of Zan, The Forgotten Planet, Operation Terror, Space Tug
Similar People  Donald A Wollheim, Olaf Stapledon, Eric Flint

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Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an American writer of science fiction and alternate history literature. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.


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Writing career

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Leinster was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of George B. Jenkins and Mary L. Jenkins. His father was an accountant. Although both parents were born in Virginia, the family lived in Manhattan in 1910, according to the 1910 Federal Census.

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He began his career as a freelance writer before World War I; he was two months short of his 20th birthday when his first story, "The Foreigner", appeared in the May 1916 issue of H. L. Mencken's literary magazine The Smart Set. Over the next three years, Leinster published ten more stories in the magazine. During and after World War I, he began appearing in pulp magazines like Argosy, Snappy Stories, and Breezy Stories. He continued to appear regularly in Argosy into the 1950s. When the pulp magazines began to diversify into particular genres in the 1920s, Leinster followed suit, selling jungle stories to Danger Trails, westerns to West and Cowboy Stories, detective stories to Black Mask and Mystery Stories, horror stories to Weird Tales, and even romance stories to Love Story Magazine under the pen name Louisa Carter Lee.

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Leinster's first science fiction story, "The Runaway Skyscraper", appeared in the February 22, 1919 issue of Argosy, and was reprinted in the June 1926 issue of Hugo Gernsback's first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. In the 1930s, he published several science fiction stories and serials in Amazing and Astounding Stories (the first issue of Astounding included his story "Tanks"). He continued to appear frequently in other genre pulps such as Detective Fiction Weekly and Smashing Western, as well as Collier's Weekly beginning in 1936 and Esquire starting in 1939.

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Leinster was an early writer of parallel universe stories. Four years before Jack Williamson's The Legion of Time came out, Leinster published his "Sidewise in Time" in the June 1934 issue of Astounding. Leinster's vision of extraordinary oscillations in time ('sidewise in time') had a long-term impact on other authors, for example Isaac Asimov's "Living Space", "The Red Queen's Race", and The End of Eternity.

Leinster's 1945 novella "First Contact" is also credited as one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator in science fiction. In 2000, Leinster's heirs sued Paramount Pictures over the film Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed.

Leinster was one of the few science fiction writers from the 1930s to survive in the John W. Campbell era of higher writing standards, publishing over three dozen stories in Astounding and Analog under Campbell's editorship. The last story by Leinster in Analog was "Quarantine World" in the November 1966 issue, thirty-six years after his appearance in the premier January 1930 issue.

Murray Leinster's 1946 short story "A Logic Named Joe" contains one of the first descriptions of a computer (called a "logic") in fiction. In the story, Leinster was decades ahead of his time in imagining the Internet. He envisioned logics in every home, linked through a distributed system of servers (called "tanks"), to provide communications, entertainment, data access, and commerce; one character says that "logics are civilization."

During World War II, he served in the United States Office of War Information. After the war, when both his name and the pulps had achieved a wider acceptance, he would use either "William Fitzgerald", "Fitzgerald Jenkins" or "Will F. Jenkins" as names on stories when "Leinster" had already sold a piece to a particular issue.

Leinster continued publishing in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in Galaxy Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, as well as The Saturday Evening Post. He won a Hugo Award for his 1956 story "Exploration Team".

Leinster's career also included tie-in fiction based on several science fiction TV series: an episodic 1960 novel, Men into Space, was derived from the series' basic concepts, but Leinster had little knowledge of the series' actual content, and none of the book episodes bear any relationship to the filmed episodes. Men Into Space was followed, seven years later, by two original novels based on The Time Tunnel (1967), and three based on Land of the Giants (1968–69).

Other endeavors

Leinster was also an inventor under his real name of William F. Jenkins, best known for the front projection process used in special effects.

Personal life

During World War I, Leinster served with the Committee of Public Information and the United States Army (1917–1918). In 1921, he married Mary Mandola, who was born in New York to Italian parents. The two had four daughters.

Honors and awards

  • Liberty Award (1937) for "A Very Nice Family", first published in the January 2, 1937 issue of Liberty Magazine.
  • Hugo Award (1956) for Best Novelette for "Exploration Team".
  • Retro-Hugo (1996) for Best Novelette for "First Contact".
  • Guest of Honor at Discon I, the 21st Worldcon in 1963.
  • The Sidewise Award for Alternate History (established in 1995) is named after Leinster's story "Sidewise in Time."
  • In the 1979 Italian film Starcrash, the spaceship in the opening sequence is called the Murray Leinster.
  • In Virginia, 27 June 2009 was designated Will F. Jenkins Day in honor of his achievements in science fiction.
  • References

    Murray Leinster Wikipedia