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Cordwainer Smith was the pseudonym used by the noted East Asia scholar Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger for his science fiction works. He spent his childhood in Japan, China, France and Germany before recieving a PhD in Political Science at 23 from Johns Hopkins University. He taught at Duke University, worked at the Office of War Information during World War II and helped create the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1947 he was appointed Professor of Asiatic Studies at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He was also active in the Foreign Policy Association and served as an advisor to President Kennedy.
A prolific writer, Linebarger was the author of over 16 novels, novellas and short-story collections including Atomsk: A Novel of Suspense (1949), You Will Never Be The Same (1963), The Planet Buyer (1964), Norstrilia (1975), The Best of Cordwainer Smith (1975), and The Instrumentality of Mankind (1979). His work was influenced by Chinese and Middle Eastern stories and first appeared in magazines like Amazing Stories, Galaxy, Fantasy Book, and If. In 2009, his short story, "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal" was adapted into a short film by the Mexican director Víctor Martínez.
As a specialist in Asiatic studies and propaganda, he also published over nine books of non-fiction including, The Political Doctrines of Sun Yat-Sen (1937), The China of Chiang K'ai-shek (1941) and Psychological Warfare (1948).
Linebargar died in 1966 of a heart attack and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Since 2001 the Cordwainer Smith Foundation has annually awarded a "Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award" to a pioneering author "whose work displays unusual originality, embodies the spirit of Cordwainer Smith's fiction, and deserves renewed attention or 'Rediscovery.'"