(June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975)
Murray Leinster was the principal pen name of William Fitzgerald “Will” Jenkins, a lifelong Virginian pro writer. He was one of several writers called the Dean of Science Fiction. (He was also, for 25 years, the Most Senior SF Writer.)
He used several other pseudonyms, including William Fitzgerald, Will F. James, Hal Jenkins, Louise Carter Lee, and Herbert Shappiro.
He began his career as a freelance writer in 1916, writing for the pulps in all genres: detective, western, jungle, romance, and, SF. His first science fiction story, "The Runaway Skyscraper," appeared in 1919 in Argosy. Through the 1930s, he continued to write across the genres.
In SF, Leinster is credited with a number of firsts: "Sidewise in Time," published in Astounding in 1934, was the first alternate history story (and the Sidewise Award is named in honor of it). "A Logic Named Joe," written for Astounding in 1946, was the first story to not only feature vaguely realistic computers, but also something like the internet, and even more importantly, to begin to fathom some of the changes it would bring to society. "First Contact," from 1945, seems to be the first appearance of a universal translator in science fiction; Leinster apparently coined the phrase “first contact” in a March 1935 Astounding story, “Proxima Centauri.”
He was one of the few pre-Golden Age SF writers to survive in the Campbell era of higher writing standards. He published over three dozen stories in Astounding and Analog under Campbell's editorship, including most of his best work.
He was also an inventor, best known for the front projection process used in special effects.
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1956 — Best Novelette Hugo
- 1968 — 1968 Open ESFA
- 1969 — First Fandom Hall of Fame Award
- 1994 — First Contact
- 1996 — 1946 Best Novelette Retro Hugo
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