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Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith -- pronounced Cordiner Smith -- was the pen-name used by the American author Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (July 11, 1913 - August 6, 1966) for his science fiction works. His non-fiction book Psychological Warfare was published under his own name.

Linebarger was the son of an American diplomat, and spent a considerable part of his childhood in the Far East; Sun Yat-sen was his godfather. This was the origin for another pen-name that he used for some stories, "Felix. C. Forrest" - the ideograms in Chinese for "Linebarger" translate roughly as "Forest of Incandescent Bliss"

His stories were strange even by the standards of science fiction, sometimes written in narrative styles closer to traditional Chinese stories than to most English-language fiction. The bulk of his stories were set on Earth, some 14000 years in the future, after the Rediscovery of Man, when the rulers of Earth, the Instrumentality, are attempting to revive old cultures and languages to try and bring vitality back to society. Stories featured such strange cultures as Norstrilia, a semi-arid planet where an immortality drug is harvested from gigantic (100-ton+) virus-infected sheep, and the punishment world of Shayol, where criminals suffer the repeated growth and harvesting for transplant of new organs. Planoforming[?] ships move between the stars, and humans telepathically linked with cats defend them from the attacks of monsters in the dark spaces between the stars - humans perceive them as dragons, the cats perceive them as gigantic rats - dispersing them with the flash of small atomic weapons. Everywhere throughout the reach of the Instrumentality, there are the Underpeople: animals modified during gestation into human form, created to serve, and with no more rights than a vacuum cleaner. Several studies feature the clandestine moves to force recognition of the underpeople as deserving of human rights.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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