This Day (Introibo ad altare Dei Edition)

It seems fitting that today, which is to say Bloomsday (stately, plump Buck Mulligan, etc.), is also the 115th birthday of one of the most prolific fiction writers of the twentieth century: Will F. Jenkins. Working under the philo-Semitic (Leopold Bloom, etc.) penname Murray Leinster, Jenkins wrote about mad scientists, criminal masterminds, alien invasions, and time travel. A 1946 story imagined personal computers and predicted the Internet. “First Contact” (1945) depicts a tense standoff between two spaceship crews, each fearing the other’s intent. Jenkins was born in Gloucester County, and some of his stories were set in Virginia. In “Sidewise in Time” (1934), a Fredericksburg professor encounters time shifts and a parallel universe in which the Confederacy won the Civil War. During the Cold War, Ivan Efremov, a science fiction writer from the Soviet Union, attacked Jenkins’s writing in his story “The Heart of the Serpent” (1959), in which aliens read “First Contact” and judge it to be warmongering.
Jenkins died in 1975, and not because a cotton bale fell on him. That was the fate, if you’ll recall, of George Tucker, Virginia’s other great science fiction writer.
Now go into the world and read (Stephen Dedalus, alien Confederates, etc.).


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