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Cordwainer Smith was born Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, on July 11, 1913, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His parents were living overseas during his mother's pregnancy, and his father insisted that the baby be born in the United States, so he would be eligible to become president of the United States.
Smith's father became a judge in the Philippines when they were still United States territory, and while there he decided that Dr. Sun Yat Sen needed a western advisor. So off he went to China and became that advisor.
Linebarger grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C., the German resort of Baden Baden, and China. He was the older of two boys. When he was six, he lost the sight of one eye in an accident. This added to his sense of being different, and must have been the beginning of the theme of pain and suffering that ran through his life.
Linebarger married Margaret Snow in 1939. During World War II he served in the army, in China and India, and returned to Washington, D.C. after the war. He and Margaret had two daughters before they divorced in 1949. He remarried Genevieve Collins, and was very active as a cold warrior, working for the CIA on the side through many of the years that he was a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
In 1952, he was working in Mexico City with Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame. The Russian embassy was having a party, and Linebarger and Hunt got ahold of an invitation. They had many extra copies made and distributed, so that far too many people arrived at the party, and the Russians were embarrassed. A little-known facet of the cold war.
His daughter reports having quite a few memories of his writing science fiction. It was fun for him, something he did on the side. He would tell her with some glee what some obscure reference meant... too bad she doesn't remember most of those, but she does remember his saying that his story title Drunkboat was from the French poem, Bateau Ivre, by Rimbau.
Linebarger died in 1966.
- War No. 81-Q (1928)
- Scanners Live in Vain (1948)
- Game of Rat and Dragon, the (1955)
- Mark Elf (1957)
- Western Science Is So Wonderful (1958)
- Burning of the Brain, the (1958)
- No, No, Not Rogov! (1959)
- When the People Fell (1959)
- Nancy (1959)
- Fife of Bodidharma, the (1959)
- Angerhelm (1959)
- Golden the Ship Was--Oh! Oh! Oh! (1959)
- Lady Who Sailed the Soul, the (1960)
- Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (1961)
- Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons (1961)
- Planet Named Shayol, a (1961)
- Ballad of Lost C'Mell, the (1962)
- Think Blue, Count Two (1962)
- From Gustible's Planet (1962)
- On the Gem Planet (1963)
- Drunkboat (1963)
- Good Friends, the (1963)
- Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal, the (1964)
- Dead Lady of Clown Town, the (1964)
- On the Storm Planet (1965)
- On the Sand Planet (1965)
- Three to a Given Star (1965)
- Under Old Earth (1966)
- Queen of the Afternoon, the (1978)
- Colonel Came Back from Nothing-at-All, the (1979)
- Himself in Anachron (1993)