Murray Leinster

Murray Leinster
Born William Fitzgerald Jenkins
(1896-06-16)June 16, 1896
Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died June 8, 1975(1975-06-08) (aged 78)
Gloucester, Virginia, United States
Pen name Murray Leinster, William Fitzgerald, Louisa Carter Lee, Will F. Jenkins, Fitzgerald Jenkins
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Nationality American
Genre Fantasy, science fiction, horror fiction, mystery fiction, Western fiction, pulp fiction


Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning 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.

Leinster's "The Fifth-Dimensional Catapult" was the cover story in the January 1931 Astounding Stories

Writing career

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.

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.

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.[1]

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.[2] 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."[3]

During World War II, he served in the United States Office of War Information.[1] 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[4] 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


Leinster as depicted in Amazing Stories in 1953


Far East

Sword of Kings, John Long, 1933.



as Louisa Carter Lee

Leinster's "Planet of Sand" was cover-featured on the February 1948 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries
Leinster's "The Strange Invasion" was the cover story on the April 1958 issue of Satellite Science Fiction. It was issued in book form later that year as War with the Gizmos.

Science fiction

Talents Incorporated book cover


Story Collections

Reprint of "The Red Dust", May 1949


  1. 1 2 Smith, Curtis C. (1981). Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. New York: St Martin's Press. pp. 325–327. ISBN 0-312-82420-3.
  2. "Hic Rhodus, His Salta" by Robert Silverberg, Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2009, page 6.
  3. Jenkins, Will F. (March 1946). "A Logic Named Joe". Astounding. 37 (1): 139–155.
  4. This phenomenon was not uncommon in the pre-VCR era. In the effort to rush a book onto the shelves to coincide with the airing of a new TV series, the commissioned novelist often had only limited source material to work from, such as a series "writer's bible", some production photos and perhaps a pilot script.
  5. HJ755: Will F. Jenkins Day; designating as June 27, 2009., Richmond Sunlight, Feb. 23, 2009, accessed Feb. 23, 2009
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