In Memoriam: Jerry Pournelle

Jerry PournelleFormer SFWA President Jerry Pournelle (b.1933) died on September 8.

Pournelle had a PhD in political science and worked with politicians throughout his various careers. He worked in the aerospace industry and consulted with various politicians on space related technology. While working towards his PhD, Pournelle published science fiction using the pseudonym Wade Curtis. In 1973, Pournelle served as the President of SFWA.

In the 1970s, Pournelle began publishing under his own name, starting with A Spaceship for the King. This began his long running military science fiction series. He collaborated with Larry Niven on The Mote in God’s Eye, Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer, and other novels. While Niven was his most frequent collaborator, the two also collaborated at times with Steven Barnes and Michael Flynn. Pournelle also collaborated with Dean Ing, Roland J. Green, Charles Sheffield, and S.M. Stirling.

In addition to his solo novels and collaborations, Pournelle edited several anthology series including There Will Be War, Imperial Stars, and War WorldHe co-edited Nebula Award Stories Sixteen with John F. Carr.

He had a long-running column in Byte Magazine which looked at computers and software from a user’s point of view rather than a programmer’s point of view.

Pournelle won the first John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1973. He also won the Prometheus Award and Seiun Award for Fallen Angels, co-written with Niven and Flynn, and was honored with the Heinlein Society Award and the National Space Society’s Heinlein Memorial Award.

Cat Rambo, President of SFWA, had this to say: “I frequently interacted with Jerry, sometimes agreeing, other times not so much, but always knowing our arguments were motivated by a mutual love of SFWA and the genre. As someone seeing behind the scenes of the Emergency Medical Fund (Jerry was one of the stewards), I came to realize how much generosity lurked in him, each time brought out by an applicant’s situation.

“I will definitely miss Jerry and think of him with fondness.”

Photo courtesy of “null0” [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.