Belated Happy Birthday, Murray Leinster
June 22, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Murray Leinster wrote more than fifteen hundred works of speculative fiction. Technovelgy notes the science fiction tropes and devices that he invented, as well as other writers. Chee!
posted by winna (18 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Three of his books are available for free from the Baen Free Library - A Logic Named Joe, Med Ship and Planets of Adventure.
posted by dragoon at 4:40 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I strongly recommend Med Ship! It's hilarious. Here's the comment I wrote about it previously.

There's a site that has a large number of his books as epub files for free, but I felt a little icky about linking it.
posted by winna at 4:43 PM on June 22, 2012

I knew a girl with Zero-G Cups ...
posted by balistic at 5:10 PM on June 22, 2012

I remember really liking his books as a young SF addict, but alas I don't remember any actual detail off hand. I was disdainful of "real" SF authors doing novelizations of TV shows, but that was before I had any visceral grasp of the struggle to make the mortgage. Now I have a serious craving to scare up his Time Tunnel novels! In the original paperback, of course.
posted by sammyo at 5:33 PM on June 22, 2012

You know those times where the universe seems to almost conspiring against you, where you learn about something odd from some source, and right after you see that source references from a completely different area, as if the world decided that this thing suddenly exists NOW and so it becomes inescapable for a while? This is one of those moments for me.

There exists this legendary bad movie called Starcrash. I found out about it about a couple of weeks ago. Released the year after Star Wars and the same year as Alien, in the first few minutes we are treated to a spaceship floating slowly past the camera. It looks exactly like someone went to a hobby store, bought a plastic spaceship, snapped the pieces off the sprues and assembled it, and didn't even bother to paint it before using it as their special effect. As the majestic space thing sails between the camera and the little luminous circles they used as stars, there is only one thing to break the off-white monotony, a single decal applied to its Snap-Tite surface: a set of black, block letters reading MURRAY LEINSTER.

Just last night we were laughing at how bizarre that was as the name of a spaceship in a sci-fi movie. The DEATH STAR; the SUPER STAR DESTROYER; the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE; the NOSTROMO, the MURRAY LEINSTER. It might be realistic, but believe me it's the only thing in Star Crash that shows any intent at all of aspiring to realism. It's nice to know that it was intended as a reference and not just a sour note.
posted by JHarris at 6:03 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Come ride the Wango Wave and see our Mutated Kodiak Bears as they play with our underwater Wabblers! Hop in your Space Wagon and visit tomorrow, today!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:07 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Navy vs. the Night Monsters cannot possibly be as good as the title suggests. Can it?
posted by zamboni at 6:17 PM on June 22, 2012

As an SF junkie I admire a lot of his writing and original ideas. He wrote some really amazing gems. But I've never understood the praise for his story First Contact, beyond establishing that phrase in SF. The vast majority of that story is just paragraphs of repetition of the premise that upon first contact, one side has to be destroyed for the other to be safe. The story is, I'd say, twice as long as it needed to be because he just won't stop reiterating that point - and of course the ending proves it to be unnecessary after all. But I guess a man with such remarkable output is bound to get a few wrong, and even then at least one of his clunkers still ends up being influential.
posted by HarshLanguage at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2012

The Navy vs. the Night Monsters cannot possibly be as good as the title suggests. Can it?

Your lack of faith in Mr. Leinster is disturbing, zamboni.
posted by winna at 6:26 PM on June 22, 2012

The Navy vs. the Night Monsters seems like it must be a better film than Battleship.
posted by Mezentian at 8:49 PM on June 22, 2012

Yeah, but Red Zone Cuba seems like it must be a better film than Battleship.
posted by JHarris at 8:51 PM on June 22, 2012

winna: "Technovelgy notes the science fiction tropes and devices that he invented, as well as other writers."


… and of course almost immediately I start thinking "oh, they don't list [blah], I could submit that; and I need to re-read [whatever], I think it has something suitable; and did [other author] also reference [that technology] or was it something new?"

Nifty. Thank you! (Oh, and going to read some of Leinster's work, too. Heh.)
posted by Lexica at 9:24 PM on June 22, 2012

You can keep yer dang jetpacks, where are my pet mutated Kodiak bears?
posted by gamera at 10:28 PM on June 22, 2012

I had no idea mutated (Kodiak) bears was a trope, but on thinking about it I dredged up from my memory Shardik and Shako, and I daresay there's some sort of mutant bear in Gamma World.

So, world, I ask: what's the obsession with zombies, when clearly bears are a vast, untapped pop culture resource resource that we need to get onto.

Wouldn't The Walking Dead be less boring with mutated bears, Kodiak or otherwise?
You reckon Carl would survive a bear attack? No. No, he would not.

Leinster's work is probably ready to be adapted to screen once more!

(Related, there seems to be a biography of his life that came out last year.)
posted by Mezentian at 10:58 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I didn't remember who wrote "A Logic Named Joe" but I remember this story from listening to XM's classic radio station on a late night drive, from the show X Minus One which aired in the early 50's. You can listen to it here.

His story involved a company marketing and selling networked computers which provided a nearly infallible search engine and collected very detailed personal information. People would let their computers share some of this personal information with others in order to facilitate social interactions. Basically, his computers ran a combination of Google and Facebook.

Later, the network becomes sentient and uses this information to cause quite a bit of damage and the network is eventually shut down with the moral being that such things are probably not good for humanity. Not only was it a well done story, but I was quite surprised someone in the 40's or 50's had actually given some thought to the social impacts of a widespread destruction of privacy caused by a system which gathers information from the voluntary submissions of its users.

So thanks for posting. I'll have to look up Leinster's other work.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:06 AM on June 23, 2012

Murray Leinster is an interesting writer, a pulp writer who was writing science fiction (starting in 1919 with "The Runaway Skyscraper" before there even was science fiction, who was one of the very few (Jack Williamson being another) who could adapt to the Campbellian revolution. He was a pioneer, one of the first to write alternate history ("Sideways in Time") and about first contact between aliens and humans ("First Contact") and a few years ago Virginia honoured him with a Murray Leinster Day.

If you can find the 1970ties short story collection The Best of Murray Leinster, it's a good introduction to, well, his best work. Then go and find all other volumes, as that series provided a great overview of pulp age science fiction.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:43 AM on June 23, 2012 has a sizeable collection of recorded Leinster works. A Logic Named Joe is a half-hour about one still-possible future from 1946.
posted by Twang at 12:28 PM on June 23, 2012

I remember reading the story about the Kodiaks in outer space (Exploration Team) back in my early teens when I was searching for classic SF. All I remember is that it was a great ride of a story.
posted by Ber at 8:34 PM on June 23, 2012

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