Jerry Pournelle, RIP

I just got word that Jerry Pournelle died today.

Pournelle was most famous for his collaborations with Larry Niven, and justly so: Lucifer’s Hammer is a great novel, and Inferno and The Mote in God’s Eye are, at the least, very good. But he was a strong writer on his own as well.

Pournelle lied about his age to get into the army in the Korean War, where he served in the artillery, which gave him life-long tinnitus. He had a widely varied carrier before becoming a science fiction writer, working in the defense industry, then on the successful Los Angeles mayoral campaign of Sam Yorty. He was also a notable advocate of SDI and a prominent columnist for Byte magazine for many years.

He had a long and successful career as a science fiction writer, winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, but never really received his due, for a variety of reasons, some aesthetic (he did a lot of work in Military SF, a subgenre held in low critical esteem), some political (he was an unapologetic conservative and disciple of Russell Kirk), some personal (Jerry rubbed many people the wrong way, and reportedly had a drinking problem in the 1980s). He edited a number of anthologies over the years; when he finally received a Hugo nomination for that, Social Justice Warrior bloc voting made sure he finished below No Award.

He was 84.

Edited to Add: A personal remembrance by Borepatch.

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8 Responses to “Jerry Pournelle, RIP”

  1. Kym Meyer says:

    I understand the difficulty with needing to be “first” on social media.
    Please understand that you releasing information about Jerry Pournelle’s death (ahead of the family making a public statement) is gauche. It is ghastly.
    You should be horrified that you are such a ghoul

  2. Ben says:

    It linked to Pournelle’s website for the news…

  3. John says:

    As much as I enjoyed his science fiction, I particularly remember reading his monthly column in BYTE during the early 1980s. All of the new things that were coming out then and his no-hold-barred reviews.

    RIP Jerry.

  4. Joe says:

    Jerry not only had tinnitus, he had an artillery notch in his hearing (certain frequencies that he almost couldn’t hear at all) and he often spoke loudly without realizing it. I can well understand, as I have the same issues, caused by too much outbound (just as his was) but in my case on the Gun Line in ’72. Maybe that’s part of the reason we got along so well, but whatever the reason was, I’m glad of it. He was a good friend, and he will be missed!

  5. Earl says:

    I never had the pleasure of having a discussion with Dr. Pournelle, but I did have the privilege of hearing him speak a few times, and exchanged a few emails.

    I always admired his work in so many fields, and found his thoughts gave me many causes for contemplation. He leaves a proud legacy.

    May he Rest in Peace, God Bless.

  6. Jon Del Arrz says:

    nice tribute. it is a huge shame that he was blacked out of the awards and we need to remember that they did this, even to a kind elderly statesman of the field.

    I’m reading King David’s Spaceship now. This is what science fiction should be.

  7. strange fan says:

    Jon – and Lawrence – you *do* realize that Jerry received eight Hugo nominations before that, yes?

    And that the anthology was dreadful (I’m sorry, I gave it a fair shot, but it really was), and only on the ballot in the first place *because* of bloc voting techniques? Because one man openly used bloc voting to try to buy legitimacy for his micro-press?

    “Repudiating bloc voting” is not itself bloc voting.

  8. A.A. Kidd says:

    Sarah Hoyt also provided a moving eulogy on PJ Media. Jerry was the first interview subject for our site (and a most appropriate one, considering our focus), and his friendship with people radically different from his beliefs such as Harlan Ellison and Robert Sawyer is an example for all of us to follow (I actually learned of his passing from Rob).

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