Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Pournelle’

Jerry Pournelle, RIP

Friday, September 8th, 2017

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.

Hephaestus Books: A Different Kind of Ripoff

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Jerry Pournelle and C. J. Cherryh have been among the first to report on the nefarious activities of Hephaestus Books, which seems to be publishing omnibus editions of hundreds or thousands of books which they haven’t bothered to obtain the rights for. I say “seems,” because a closer look shows that Hephaestus Books does seen to be ripping people off, but it’s the readers and buyers rather than the authors.

Since Jerry helped sound the alarm, let’s take this collection, titled Novels By Jerry Pournelle, including: The Legacy Of Heorot, The Mote In God’s Eye, The Gripping Hand, Footfall, Inferno (novel), Fallen Angels … Starswarm, Higher Education over at Amazon as an example. The text description reads:

Hephaestus Books represents a new publishing paradigm, allowing disparate content sources to be curated into cohesive, relevant, and informative books. To date, this content has been curated from Wikipedia articles and images under Creative Commons licensing, although as Hephaestus Books continues to increase in scope and dimension, more licensed and public domain content is being added. We believe books such as this represent a new and exciting lexicon in the sharing of human knowledge. This particular book is a collaboration focused on Novels by Jerry Pournelle.

The fact that the book length is a mere 82 pages should confirm that all the novels listed in the title are not in fact present.

So: They’re content scrapers, grabbing anything they can grab off the Internet (it looks like most of their content is scrapped off Wikipedia) and slapping it between two covers as a print-on-demand (POD) book. This is bad and dubiously legal practice, but their primary sin seems to be false advertising, since their “book” titles deceptively suggest that you’re buying an omnibus edition of fiction rather than a collection of stuff you can read for free on the Internet.

Personally, if I were in charge of Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I’d pull all the Hephaestus Books titles due to their dishonest tactics and customer dissatisfaction anyway. (I don’t think even my insane Jack Vance collector friends will be picking up this.) But from my cursory glance, it’s readers, not authors, who are the ones being ripped off.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)