The Aliens

- Murray Leinster
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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 other will not turn out to be the enemy. Humans call them “Plumies” because of the feathery plumes they inscribe on silicon-bronze tablets and cairns they have left behind on their intergalactic travels over the last thousand years. The search goes on, till one day somewhere in outer space, a Plumie ship collides with the one manned by humans. _The Aliens_ by Murray Leinster was first published in 1959, in what many consider to be the Golden Age of Sci-Fi. Leinster, whose real name was William Fitzgerald Jenkins, was a prolific writer who began writing when he was barely out of his teens. He wrote more than 1,500 stories, TV and film screenplays and radio scripts. His writing career took off in tandem with the huge popularity enjoyed by “pulp” fiction magazines. Initially, he wrote a variety of stories, ranging from detective fiction, romance, Westerns and adventure tales. However, when the pulps began to specialize in certain genres of writing, Leinster found his niche in Sci-Fi. He was, unlike many of the pulp writers of the day, also a talented craftsman. Most of his work is based on solid scientific principles and is extraordinarily prescient and predictive of events and devices that were to appear over the next half a century. In _First Contact_, he describes a “universal translator” while in another story, _A Logic Named Joe_, he portrays what we know as the Internet, smart-homes, communications, entertainment and data access through a system of “tanks” (servers) Murray Leinster wielded an exceptional influence over many other science fiction writers. Isaac Asimov was deeply indebted to him for ideas like a parallel universe and the shifting of time. Twenty five years after his death, his heirs sued Paramount Pictures for their movie title _Star Trek: First Contact._ They argued that the title First Contact was an infringement of the copyright they held on one of Leinster's famous stories called _First Contact_ published in 1945. _The Aliens_ combines excitement, adventure, lots of Sci-Fi, a touch of romance and is extremely readable even today. It is also unique in that unlike many Sci-Fi stories of the day, it doesn't assume that any alien that encounters a human being in outer space is necessarily evil, running counter to the contemporary fear and xenophobia that gripped the United States at the time. A great weekend read!

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