A major retrospective of 24 stories, 1934—64, including two previously unpublished, from Leinster (1896—1976; real name Will Jenkins), a storysmith with a talented and educated imagination, though he proved a poor novelist, ultimately unable to transcend the pulps. While innovative and creative, he retained a firm grip on real science indeed, some of his ideas now appear astonishingly prescient. He wrote the first computer-paranoia yarn, "A Logic Named Joe," back in an era when computers weren't even a gleam in Bill Gates's eye. In "First Contact," he proposed a solution to the problem of spacefaring humans confronting aliens of similar psychology and technological development. "Exploration Team" contemptuously bats away the notion that machines, even intelligent robots, could successfully explore dangerous new worlds; Leinster instead provides his own unique insight. "Sidewise in Time" wonders what might happen if you move, not up or down the stream of time, but across it. "The Lonely Planet" invents the idea of a planetary consciousness. Elsewhere, a character receives a phone call from himself, one week in the future; a man-who-fell-to-earth isn't just immortal, he's insane as well, while other aliens don't just imitate, they become humans, or attempt to teach students of alchemy the principles of electricity. There are plenty of flimsy entries, too, of course, but the best of them are remarkable inventions, providing a window on to science fiction's first Golden Age that demonstrates exactly what made it golden.
Read full book review >