Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning Americanwriter of science fiction and alternate history. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.
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.
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."
After World War II, 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.
In 2000, Leinster's heirs sued Paramount Pictures over the film Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that as the owners of the rights to Leinster's 1945 short story "First Contact", it infringed their trademark in the term. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Paramount's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the suit. The court found that regardless of whether Leinster's story first coined the phrase, it had since become a generic and therefore unprotectable term that described the genre of science fiction in which humans first encounter alien species. Even if the title was instead "descriptive"—a category of terms higher than "generic" that may be protectable—there was no evidence that the title had the required association in the public's mind (known as "secondary meaning") such that its use would normally be understood as referring to Leinster's story. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's dismissal without comment.
The Time Tunnel, Pyramid, January 1967; novelization of the TV series.
The Time Tunnel: Timeslip!, Pyramid, July 1967; novelization of TV series.
Land of the Giants, Pyramid, September 1968; novelization of the TV series.
Land of the Giants 2: The Hot Spot, Pyramid, April 1969; novelization of the TV series.
Land of the Giants 3: Unknown Danger, Pyramid, September 1969; novelization of the TV series.
Politics, in Amazing Stories, No. 6, June 1932:
After a shattering defeat of the US Navy by an unnamed "enemy" in Pacific, the American politics is overridden by pacifists, and politicians command to surrender the remainder of the American fleet to the enemy fleet no placate it, only to learn that the battleship Minnesota nearly single-handedly drowned the whole enemy fleet. Minnesota achieved this feat because without knowledge and against manipulations of the pacifists, it was the only ship equipped with breakthrough armament: range finder whose operation strikingly resembled radar and computer-controlled guns.
"Two telescopes, one at each end of a baseline, and mounted exactly parallel. Fitted with photoelectric cells instead of eyepieces. You swing the baseline around and they sweep the horizon. As a ship on the horizon changes the amount of light that goes through a narrow slit to the photoelectric cell. It registers the instant the first telescope hits the stern of the ship. A fraction of a second later, because the telescopes are exactly parallel, the ship image registers the second cell. Both cells register exactly the same changes in current output, but one is a fraction second behind the other. Knowing he rate of sweep in seconds or mils or arc, if one photoelectric cell lags behind another one mil, and you know the baseline, you work out the distance in a hurry."
"The impulses go to integrator that calculates the range and declination. That feeds into a computer that works up the firing data —barometer, wind, humidity, and so on—and that goes to a relay that lays the gun!"
The Gamblin' Kid (as Will F. Jenkins), A.L. Burt, 1933; first appeared in Western Action Novels, March 1937.
Mexican Trail (as Will F. Jenkins), A.L. Burt, 1933.
Outlaw Sheriff (as Will F. Jenkins), King, 1934.
Fighting Horse Valley (as Will F. Jenkins), King, 1934.
Kid Deputy (as Will F. Jenkins), Alfred H. King, 1935; first serialized in Triple-X Western, February - April 1928.
Black Sheep (as Will F. Jenkins), Julian Messer, 1936.
Guns for Achin (as Will F. Jenkins), Wright & Brown, 1936; first appeared in Smashing Novels, November 1936.
Wanted Dead or Alive!, Quarter Books, 1949; first serialized in Triple-X Magazine, February - May 1929.
Outlaw Guns, Star Books, 1950.
Son of the Flying 'Y' (as Will F. Jenkins), Fawcett, 1951.
Cattle Rustlers (as Will F. Jenkins), Ward Lock, 1952.
Dallas (as Will F. Jenkins), Fawcett, 1950. Novelization of screenplay by John Twist.
The Last Space Ship, Fell, 1949.
"The Boomerang Circuit", Thrilling Wonder, June 1947
"The Disciplinary Circuit", Thrilling Wonder, Winter 1946
"The Manless Worlds", Thrilling Wonder, February 1947