Weinbaum, Stanley G(rauman) (1902–1935)
Stanley Weinbaum was a student of chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin (where he was in the same class as Charles Lindberg) and science fiction author who was among the first to explore in depth the possible mentalities and motives of genuinely alien beings. His first published story, "A Martian Odyssey", published just 15 months before his death from throat cancer at the age of 33, is set on a Lowellian Mars and populated by a remarkable diversity of extraterrestrials, from Tweel, a bird-like creature who attempts to communicate with the explorers from Earth, to a silicon-based life-form whose respiratory waste consists of silica bricks. As the science fiction writer and critic, Sam Moskowitz pointed out in his introduction to a 1966 edition of Weinbaum's classic:1
"Many devotees ... believe that the true beginning of modern science fiction, with its emphasis on polished writing, otherwordly psychology, philosophy and stronger characterization began with Stanley G. Weinbaum. Certainly few authors in this branch have exercised a more obvious and pervasive influence on the attitudes of his contemporaries." In 1935, Weinbaum's "The Lotus Eaters" offered a glimpse into the mind of an intelligent Venusian plant.
1. Weinbaum, Stanley G. A Martian Odyssey, 1st ed. New York: Fantasy Press (1949). S. G. Weinbaum and S. Moskowitz, eds., A Martian Odyssey and Other Science Fiction Tales. Wesport, Conn.: Hyperion Press (1974).