Sunday, May 3, 2009

Murray Leinster Day

Visions of Paradise reports,

"The Virginia State Legislature has declared June 27, 2009 as Will F. Jenkins Day, a deserved honor for a man who, writing as Murray Leinster, was one of the true grandmasters of science fiction since his writing not only predated the development of the genre, but who was responsible for many of the iconic ideas in the field."

That's great news. Murray Leinster was a pioneer in many ways. He was possibly the first to imagine, in 1964's "Plague on Kryder II," a spaceship using its drive as a weapon, something often mistakenly credited to Larry Niven.

"The other ship swerved. Calhoun changed course to match. The other ship wavered. Its pilot couldn't understand. He'd lost the initiative. The Med Ship plunged for the very nose of the other vessel. They moved toward each other with vastly more than the speed of rifle bullets. At the last instant the other ship tried crazily to sheer off. At that precise moment Calhoun swung the Med Ship into a quarter-turn. He cut his rockets and the Aesclipus Twenty plunged ahead, moving sidewise, and then Calhoun cut in his rockets again. Their white-hot flames, flittering through a quarter-mile of space, splashed upon the other ship. They penetrated. They sliced the other ship into two ragged and uneven halves, and those two halves wallowed onward."

More important to his legacy is his prediction of the personal computer in his 1946 story "A Logic Named Joe," about a personal computer, or logic, which gains self-awareness.

"Listen, fella! Logics changed civilization. Logics are civilization! If we shut off logics, we go back to a kind of civilization we have forgotten how to run!"

Many of Murray Leinster's best stories are freely available to download and enjoy, courtesy of the Baen Free Library and Project Gutenberg. No need to wait for Will F. Jenkins Day to read his stories.

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