A Logic Named Joe

by Murray Leinster
Reviewed date: 2010 Aug 19
608 pages
cover art

Murray Leinster writes well, and I dare say I enjoyed all the stories in this book. Except probably Dear Charles--that one grated. You can't get around the inherent paradoxes in time travel by having the narrator remark on them and figuratively throw up his hands in defeat. The gem of the collection is A Logic Named Joe. The concept of a super-intelligent computer wreaking havoc wouldn't be very original today, but it was much more so in 1946. Consider that 1) Leinster wrote about in-home personal computers with television screens when personal computers had not been invented and commercial television was merely months old. And 2) Leinster envisioned these computers as part of a global communications network--an Internet.

The entire book is available online for free as part of the Baen Free Library. [Not anymore. A portion is online for free: A Logic Named Joe. - 6 July 2021]

  • A Logic Named Joe: A logic is a basically a networked computer, complete with a vision-screen and a connection to all available information everywhere. An imperceptible malfunction in one logic results in it coming alive. With access to all information, and the ability to correlate it, the ever-helpful logic nearly ruins the world by solving every problem and answering every question asked of it.
  • Dear Charles: A paradox-riddled short story where a young 20th century man time-travels to the 34th century where he meets his great-great-great-etc. grandson's girlfriend and takes her back to the 20th century and marries her.
  • Gateway to Elsewhere: Tony Gregg has a gold coin from a parallel Earth. The coin leads him to that world, where he encounters a real live Arabian Nights world. He does battle with djinn and defeats them.
  • The Duplicators: Link Denham's drunken mistake is to sign as a navigator of a ship bound for a secret lost planet. This planet, Sord Three, is unique in two ways. First, its inhabitants possess duplicators--machines capable of turning raw materials into perfect duplicates of any item placed with in them. Second, it is home to a large native population of uffts--intelligent pig-like creatures who serve the humans because the humans supply them with beer.
  • The Fourth-Dimensional Demonstrator: A humorous (I guess) short story of a duplicator gone wild. Imagine what would happen if a duplicator happened to duplicate a surly kangaroo.
  • The Pirates of Zan: Bron Hoddan is an unappreciated genius. He leaves his native planet of Zan because he feels their pirate life offers too little opportunity for real accomplishment. On the planet Walden, he angers the authorities by daring to improve upon technology they already consider perfect. Running for his life across the galaxy, Hoddan ends up on the feudal planet of Garth. One thing leads to another, and Hoddan finds himself the leader of the greatest space pirate fleet ever.

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