The Remakable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

His Arlington National Cemetery Bio with My Add-ons

gravestoneMy father was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, which he was entitled to as a military man. There is a biography there, which I have also seen on a variety of other sites around the web. I don't know who wrote it originally... evidently not someone who knew him.

Here it is. Comments in red are mine. -- Rosana

Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, Jr. [He never used the Jr as an adult, though he did as a teenager. My grandfather was Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger.]
Major, United States Army
Colonel, United States Army Reserve
Science Fiction Writer: Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith (Pseudonym for Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger) (b.1913-d.1966)

Ph.D. professor of Asiatic studies at John Hopkins University, School of advanced International Studies. Closely linked with the U.S. Intelligence Community with special interest in propaganda techniques and psychological warfare.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 1913, died in Baltimore, Maryland. Grew up and was educated in China and Japan, his father was a legal advisor to the Chinese Republic (Dr. Paul Myron Anthony L. but see above) attended school in Germany, visited Russia in his teens, married Margaret Snow in 1936, divorced in 1949, remarried 1950 to Genevieve Collins.

In 1966 most of his science-fiction work was published for the first time. [They must mean in book form.] University teacher in 1947 [and for the rest of his life]. Recalled for Korean War. Travelled a lot in the 50's and 60's with his wife in spite of his being very ill. [He had various health problems but I almost never saw him sick in bed. I wish I'd inherited his stamina.] He was very impressed with Australia and hoped to retire there but died of a heart attack [by then he *had been* very sick for a while] at age 53.

All but 5 stories are of the Instrumentality of mankind. First of these was "War #81-Q"(1928) Apparently he did not bother a lot with making the different facts and dates match. [Geez, I can't let that go by. I'd say he did bother quite a lot, but the worlds he created were so complex that he didn't hold it all in precise memory.] Also wrote as Felix C. Forrest, a pun in reference to his Chinese name Lin Bah Loh (Forest of Incandescent Bliss).

From 1950 to 1966, stories appeared in mainstream science fiction magazines by an author named "Cordwainer Smith". From the first to the last, these stories were acclaimed as among the most inventive and striking ever written, and that in a field specializing in the inventive and the striking. Their author was a very private man who did not want his real name to be known because he did not want to be pursued by SF fans. [That's true; I remember him saying so.] It was only after his death in 1966 that more than a handful of people knew that "Cordwainer Smith" was in real life Paul M. L. Linebarger. [Paul M. A. Linebarger]

Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger

Paul Linebarger was born in 1913, the grandson of a clergyman. His father, an eccentric man, had served as a Federal District Judge in the Philippines, but had left this post to work full time for the cause of the Chinese republican reformer Sun Yat Sen, who became Paul's godfather. Paul Linebarger grew up in the retinue of Sun Yat Sen, for his father stayed with Sen during his exile in Japan and throughout his career in China. John J. Pierce has written,

Linebarger spent his formative years in Japan, China, France, and Germany. By the time he grew up, he knew six languages and had become intimate with several cultures, both Oriental and Occidental.

[My father was NOT partly raised and educated in Japan. He spent a week or two at a time there, maybe as long as a month on some research project, but during the period when his father was basically hiding out in Japan to keep from being killed by his Chinese enemies, my father and his brother Wentworth and mother Lillian were living either in Europe or the US.]

He was only twenty- three when he earned his Ph.D. in political science at Johns Hopkins University, where he was later Professor of Asiatic politics for many years. Shortly thereafter, he graduated from editing his father's books to publishing his own highly regarded works on Far Eastern affairs. [1]

After graduating from Johns Hopkins, Linebarger taught at Duke University from 1937 to 1946, but he also served actively in the Army during World War II as a second lieutenant. Pierce writes that "As a Far East specialist he was involved in the formation of the Office of War Information and of the Operation Planning and Intelligence Board. He also helped organize the Army's first psychological warfare section." [2] He was sent to China and put in charge of psychological warfare and of coordinating Anglo- American and Chinese military activities. By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of major.

In 1947, he became professor of Asiatic Politics at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Pierce writes,

Dr. Linebarger turned his wartime experiences into Psychological Warfare, still regarded as the most authoritative text in the field. As a colonel, he was advisor to the British forces in Malaya, and to the U. S. Eighth Army in Korea. But this self- styled "visitor to small wars" passed up Vietnam, feeling American involvement there was a mistake. [Interesting. I was in my early 20s and became involved with the pacifist activities of the Quakers, and I remember a lunch with my father in which he said a small war like that didn't really matter much. I thought he was horribly world-weary.]

Travels around the world took him to Australia, Greece, Egypt, and many other countries; [he had a globe thickly covered with many different colors of tape, representing his major trips] and his expertise was sufficiently valued that he became a leading member of the Foreign Policy Association and an advisor to President Kennedy. [3]

Linebarger was reared in a High Church Episcopalian family. [No, that came later when he married Genevieve, a Catholic who couldn't be a Catholic in good standing while being married to a divorced man, so they told me. His father was from a Methodist family, and whatever Grandma was raised, it didn't take.] Alan C. Elms's sketch of the older Linebargers does not lead one to believe either was particularly devout. [to put it mildly... I never met that grandfather but Grandma didn't give a hoot for religion.] Paul's father was evidently rather overbearing and placed many demands on his son. His mother was apparently rather self-centered and controlling [yep]. At the age of six, young Paul was blinded in his left eye as a result of an accident while playing, and the resulting infection damaged his right eye as well, causing him distress throughout his entire life. A sensitive, introspective, and apparently rather lonely and sickly youth, Paul Linebarger was to develop into a remarkable scholar, thinker, and writer. [4]

At some point in his life, Paul Linebarger became a strongly committed Christian. "He and [his wife] Genevieve went to Sung Mass on Sundays, and he said grace at all meals at home. The faith extended and shaped his powerful imagination' But he simply ignored contemporary religious movements, especially the secularizing ones directed to social problems. The God he had faith in had to do with the soul of man and with the unfolding of history and of the destiny of all living creatures." [5]

The first science fiction story published by Linebarger, under the pseudonym Cordwainer Smith, was "Scanners Live in Vain", in 1949. It had been written, however, in 1945. This story is a full-blown allegory of the coming of the New Covenant, and reveals a very sophisticated understanding both of the Biblical narrative and typology (e.g., the smell of roast lamb reminds the central character of the smell of burning people), and of the theological and philosophical tenets of the Christian religion. Linebarger must have become a serious Christian well before 1945. [I doubt it, but I don't really know when he did. It's important to remember that he could certainly have had a 'sophisticated understanding' without being 'committed.' I rather think that his 1950 marriage to Genevieve was a key turning point. She was Catholic in an era when Catholics couldn't marry divorced people, or so they told me, and they both became High Church Episcopal.]

Linebarger's own psychological problems, as well as his keen interest in psychological warfare, caused him to explore modern psychiatry and psychoanalysis. These themes, as well as Christian philosophy and allegory, and also psychological warfare, run all through the science fiction he published as Cordwainer Smith.


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 The Blog
 His Books
 The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith
 Norstrilia, by Cordwainer Smith
 Atomsk, by Carmichael Smith
 Ria, by Felix C. Forrest
 Carola, by Felix C. Forrest
 Psychological Warfare, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul: One Letter
 Books about His Science Fiction
 Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, by Anthony Lewis
 The Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, by Karen Hellekson
 Exploring Cordwainer Smith, Booklet by Andrew Porter
 Where You Can Get Books
 Cordwainer Smith at Amazon
 Cordwainer Smith at Alibris
 Cordwainer Smith at AbeBooks
 Cordwainer Smith on eBay
 Cordwainer Smith, the Author
 A Cordwainer Smith Panel Discussion
 Scholarly Corner, by Alan C. Elms
 What Other Science Fiction Authors Say
 What Readers Say
 Paul M. A. Linebarger, the Man
 Family Photos
 A Daughter's Memories
 Was Paul Linebarger Kirk Allen?
 His Arlington National Cemetery Bio and My Comments
 Rosana's Ramblings
 Rambling 1: Shakespeare Had It Wrong
 Rambling 2: The Return of C'mell, Sort Of
 Art Inspired by Cordwainer Smith
 Virgil Finlay
 Pierre Lacombe
 Craig Moore
 Corby Waste
 Annual Rediscovery Award
 2012 Fredric Brown
 2011 Katherine MacLean
 2010 Mark Clifton
 2009 A. Merritt
 2008 Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2007 Daniel F Galouye
 2006 William Hope Hodgson
 2005 Leigh Brackett
 Leigh Brackett: Her Biography
 2004 Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
 2003 Edgar Pangborn
 2002 R. A. Lafferty
 2001 Olaf Stapledon
 Cordwainer Smith Foundation
 Cordwainer Smith T-Shirts
 Cordwainer Smith: Other Online Resources
 Contact Us
 Illustrated Bibliography, by Mike Bennett
 Introduction to the Illustrated Bibliography
 All the Stories and All the Books
 Chronological Book List
 Magazine Covers
 Book Covers
 Book Covers: Best of Cordwainer Smith
 Book Covers: Instrumentality of Mankind
 Book Covers: Norstrilia
 Book Covers: Planet Buyer
 Book Covers: Rediscovery of Man
 Book Covers: Quest of the Three Worlds
 Book Covers: Space Lords
 Book Covers: Stardreamer
 Book Covers: Under Old Earth
 Book Covers: Underpeople
 Book Covers: You Will Never Be the Same
 Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger - Chronology
 Press Releases
 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Goes to Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2002: About the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award
 2001: First Rediscovery Award Ceremony
 2001: Creation of Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award