Thursday, March 30, 2017

Geek Highways: Ardudwy


On the bank of the York River, in a still-remote part of Gloucester County, Virginia, that was a heaven for his small daughters, sits Murray Leinster's house, Ardudwy. that's it up above.

Will F. Jenkins was a very successful fiction writer whose love of science led him to write science fiction, against his agent's horrified objections, under the Murray Leinster pseudonym. He was the single most important SF writer between H. G. Wells and Robert Heinlein. At a time when the stuff was mostly written by untalented hacks and paid accordingly, he wrote the kind of exciting idea-fiction that lit a fire in the young brains of Isaac Asimov and many, many other writers-to-be. He wrote the first "first contact" story. In "The Runaway Skyscraper," he invented alternate history. In "A Logic Named Joe," he describe the Internet in detail -- in 1946! He was the first Dean of Science Fiction.

And I met him.

I did! When I was 29, Dr. David Clay Jenkins (no relation), the single most valuable teacher I ever had at William & Mary (and there were many to whom I owe enormous gratitude) took me and my friend Paul Fuchs to meet the great man. I wrote a sketchy account of it here. Short version: He dazzled. He was everything a writer should be: Lordly, gracious, interested in everything, full of lore, bubbling with ideas, enthusiastic about great writing, in love with language, an amateur inventor. And kind to at least one young fool.


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