Lifetime: 1896 - 1975 Passed: ≈ 48 years ago


Novelist, Short Story Writer


United States

Murray Leinster

Murray Leinster was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an American writer of science fiction. 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. A high school dropout, he nevertheless began a 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 World War I, Leinster served with the Committee of Public Information and the United States Army (1917–1918). During and after the war, 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 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. 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."

During World War II, he served in the United States Office of War Information. 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 was so prolific a writer that Groff Conklin, when reviewing Operation: Outer Space in March 1955, noted that it was his fourth novel of 1954 and that another would be reviewed in the next month. 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. 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).

Books by Murray Leinster

The Aliens Cover image

The Aliens

Fiction Science Fiction
Space Planets

This story starts with space ships scouring the universe in an interplanetary game of tag. The humans know there are “Aliens” out there. But so do the Aliens. As each tries desperately to make the phenomenal discovery, they secretly hope that the oth...

Sand Doom Cover image

Sand Doom

Adventure Science Fiction
Ship Problems

The problem was as neat a circle as one could ask for; without repair parts, they couldn’t bring in the ship that carried the repair parts!

The Deadly Dust Cover image

The Deadly Dust

Science Fiction Novel
Struggle Society Suspense Life Technology Science Humanity Earth

The book follows the story of a group of scientists who discover a deadly new substance that threatens to wipe out all life on Earth. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the novel explores the consequences of humanity's reckless pursuit of technologica...

The Seven Temporary Moons Cover image

The Seven Temporary Moons

Science Fiction Novel
Mystery Adventure Exploration Planets Discovery Humanity Dangerous Mission Storytelling Astronauts Human Spirit

It is an exciting science fiction novel that takes readers on a thrilling adventure beyond Earth's atmosphere. Written by Leinster, a renowned American science fiction author, the book was first published in 1948 and has captivated readers ever since...

If You Was A Moklin Cover image

If You Was A Moklin

Science Fiction
Short Story Tolerance Adventure Thriller Exploration Friendship Challenges Planets Alien Peace

It is a short story, originally published in Galaxy Magazine, September 1951. The story is set in the future, when humans have made contact with an alien race called the Moklins. The Moklins are humanoid in appearance, but they have a number of physi...

Med Service Cover image

Med Service

Science Fiction Novel
Adventure Thriller Travel Planets Medical Space Exploration Human Emotions

It is an exciting science fiction novel that takes readers on a thrilling journey through the vastness of space. Written by Murray Leinster, a renowned author in the genre, this book captures the imagination of young readers with its captivating stor...

Be Young Again Cover image

Be Young Again

Science Fiction Novel
Youth Adventure Self-Discovery Suspense Imagination Scientific Curiosity Human Condition

It is an exciting and engaging science fiction novel that takes readers on an extraordinary journey through time. This book captivates the imagination of young readers with its thrilling storyline and thought-provoking themes. In "Be Young Again," th...

Ribbon in the Sky Cover image

Ribbon in the Sky

Adventure Science Fiction
Mystery Thriller Discovery Imagination Bravery Scientific Curiosity Entertainment

It is an engaging and adventurous book perfect for young readers. This captivating story takes readers on a thrilling journey through a world of imagination and discovery. Set in an unknown future, "Ribbon in the Sky" follows the protagonist's quest...

The Grandfathers' War Cover image

The Grandfathers' War

Science Fiction Novel
Family Love War Adventure Thriller Historical Fiction Imaginative Sacrifice Determination Resilience

In a time-bending tale that defies the boundaries of space and generations, "The Grandfathers' War" by Murray Leinster immerses readers in a thrilling journey where the past and present collide. "The Grandfathers' War" unveils a captivating narrative...

The Sentimentalists Cover image

The Sentimentalists

Science Fiction Novel
War Mystery Thriller Deception Conflict Humanity Experiences Perception Peace Human Condition

This book transports readers to a future where the galaxy stands on the brink of unprecedented change. Dr. Evelyn Harper, a brilliant and enigmatic psychologist, finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, deception, and unexpected discoveries. A...

A Thousand Degrees Below Zero Cover image

A Thousand Degrees Below Zero

Science Fiction Novel
Adventure Courage Island Suspense Knowledge Classics Danger

In the aftermath of World War I, a mad scientist threatens to plunge the world into a new Ice Age. A Thousand Degrees Below Zero is a science fiction novel by Murray Leinster, first published in 1919. The story follows the adventures of a scientist...

The Manless Worlds Cover image

The Manless Worlds

Science Fiction
Mystery Thriller Gender Hope Classics Science Feminism Survival social commentary

In a future where men have mysteriously disappeared from every world except Earth, "The Manless Worlds" by Murray Leinster takes you on a thrilling journey through a universe grappling with the profound consequences of this inexplicable event. Imagi...

Juju Cover image


Fiction Novel
Young Fear Action Adventure Courage Civilization Wisdom Wilderness

In the heart of the untamed African jungle, where danger lurks around every bend and ancient magic still holds sway, a young American adventurer named Murray finds himself entangled in a perilous quest to uncover the secrets of a lost tribe and break...

Med Ship Man Cover image

Med Ship Man

Adventure Science Fiction
Truth Thriller Suspense Determination Discovery Hope Science Suffering Threat

In the vast expanse of the cosmos, where countless planets orbit distant stars, Dr. Calvin Calhoun, a skilled and experienced Med Ship doctor, dedicates his life to healing and alleviating suffering. His mission takes him to the far reaches of the ga...

Space Tug Cover image

Space Tug

Joe Kenmore heard the airlock close with a sickening wheeze and then a clank. In desperation he turned toward Haney. "My God, we've been locked out!"Through the transparent domes of their space helmets, Joe could see a look of horror and disbelief pa...

Operation Terror Cover image

Operation Terror

An unidentified space ship lands in a Colorado lake. Equipped with a paralyzing ray weapon, the creatures begin taking human prisoners. A lone land surveyor and a journalist are trapped inside the Army cordon, which is helpless against the mysterious...

Pirates of Ersatz Cover image

Pirates of Ersatz

Bron is the offspring of infamous space pirates but instead of following in the family footsteps he decides to become an electronic engineer. Unfortunately, every time he tries to get out, something pulls him back in. This is a tongue-in-cheek space...

Talents, Incorporated Cover image

Talents, Incorporated

Bors felt as if he'd been hit over the head. This was ridiculous! He'd planned and carried out the destruction of that warship because the information of its existence and location was verified by a magnetometer. But, if he'd known how the informati...

Runaway Skyscraper Cover image

Runaway Skyscraper

Arthur Chamberlain has problems. His one-man engineering firm is faltering and his pretty secretary Estelle barely notices him. But these problems are put aside when his Manhattan office building falls into the fourth dimension. Madison Square is fil...

This World Is Taboo Cover image

This World Is Taboo

Calhoun is an Interstellar Medical Serviceman, and he's needed on Dara. Trouble is: Dara is forbidden. Taboo. And breaking quarantine will make Calhoun a presumed plague-carrier and subject to being shot on sight by anyone from Weald. But hey! If he...

Hate Disease Cover image

Hate Disease

Dr. Calhoun and his pet tormal Murgatroyd work for the Interstellar Medical Service making routine public health inspections on far-flung colonial planets. When they reach Tallien Three they are greeted with a rocket attack by the Paras, a mutated fo...

Operation: Outer Space Cover image

Operation: Outer Space

Jed Cochrane is about to take off on man's first interstellar voyage. His mission: Make sure it's good television! (Introduction by Mark Nelson)

Mad Planet Cover image

Mad Planet

It is 30,000 years following dramatically changed climate conditions on earth which had let massive amounts of carbon dioxide belch from the interior of the planet into the atmosphere. Over the millenia this would have quite devastating effects on li...

Machine that Saved the World Cover image

Machine that Saved the World

They were broadcasts from nowhere--sinister emanations flooding in from space--smashing any receiver that picked them up. What defense could Earth devise against science such as this? In the far future of 1972, on a secret military installation, Staf...

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