Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017)

Jerry Pournelle at MagiCon (1992). Photo by Lenny Provenzano

Jerry Pournelle died September 8 at the age of 84, his son Alex announced.

I’m afraid that Jerry passed away
We had a great time at Dragon Con
He did not suffer.

Pournelle had just spent the weekend at Dragon Con, and wrote yesterday on his Chaos Manor blog that he came home with both a cold and the flu.

Jerry was active in LASFS, where I knew him for over 40 years. We had a long talk this year at the Vintage Paperback Show. I’ll post an appreciation here tomorrow.

Larry Niven, Mike Glyer, Jerry Pournelle at the LA Vintage Paperback Show in 2017. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

80 thoughts on “Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017)

  1. I met him many times in the tech press pool; I can still hear him calling out “Ship it!”

  2. Simon Bisson: “Ship it!”

    There’s a strange confluence of memories. That phrase was my boss’s answer to everything when I worked at the women’s underwear warehouse.

  3. Damn. Another one going to the perpetual-Thursday-night meeting in the next world.
    I liked listening to his stories; he was a good raconteur.

  4. He will be missed. I drove Jerry a couple of places a decade or so ago when he was GoH at my local con.

  5. I will raise a glass to him tonight, and pray him Godspeed, in honor of the many hours of enjoyment he gave me.

  6. My condolences to the family in this time of loss. The worlds are now a slightly darker place but his star shines brighter.

  7. *SIGH*

    My head hurts. Can I go home now?

    Condolences to his friends and family.

    Requiescat In Pace

  8. The first time I met Jerry was at the LASFS Clubhouse back in March 2000. I was sitting talking to Mike Glyer when Jerry approached us and began listening to our conversation, waiting for an opportunity to join the discussion. It struck me as being a perfect reversal of all the times a fan approaches two authors at a con and waits to join their conversation.

  9. All my condolences to his friends, family, and readers.

    We were never introduced; we came within a few paces of one another at (iirc) the pre-Hugos reception at Worldcon 2015, but the press of the line for the bar swept me on. Despite the vast polarity difference in our politics I always found him a natural storyteller and a strangely, subtly humane one. I might have laughed my head off at the conceits of some of what I was reading, but I kept going back for more. My favorite is probably JANISSARIES.

    I hope Valhalla has ARPANET and they let him back on.

  10. Here’s hoping that there is an afterlife, and that Jerry and RAH are collaborating on a new novel. I read Mote in God’s Eye when it first came out, but was too young to fully appreciate it at the time. I got hooked (almost literally) when I read Lucifer’s Hammer in one night. RIP Jerry.

  11. @Cubist

    Excuse me? Come on.

    My condolences to Jerry Pournelle’s friends and family.

  12. Sorry to hear he’s gone.

    Has anyone else here also read his PhD thesis? It was in political science, a logical analysis of the conventional political spectrum. He summarized it in an article for Analog at some point.

  13. Good man gone. From dust we are made, to dust we depart. Hope to see lots of appreciations and people carrying on his work.

  14. My condolences to his family. My favorites were some of the books he wrote with Larry Niven (The Mote In God’s Eye and Inferno).

  15. @cubist That is a despicable and hateful remark. I suggest you remove it and go far, far away from here.

  16. Let that be enough about Cubist, so we can get back to memories about Jerry.

    Good point, Sorry Mike.

  17. Aw, RIP. I have particularly warm and fond memories of reading Footfall when I was a teenager and no alien invasion big-budget blockbuster ever surpassed it for sheer scale and energy.

  18. If LASFS has a flag, it should be at half-mast for the next four meetings.

    I think Thursday evenings will be grey for a while.

  19. Fun fact:
    The title of my 2017 Down Under Fan Fund Report. “What I did on my Summer Vacation” is a reference to a Niven/Pournelle novel, THE GRIPPING HAND. It is the in-universe name for Kevin Renner’s report on the events that occurred during THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE.

  20. Condolences to his family. I still have fond memories of the Niven collaborations, the Janissaries books, the Falkenberg books, etc.

  21. I first met Jerry in 1978, intervening with hotel staff who’d screwed up his reservation. (“Mr. Pournelle, everyone is in the bar and the lobby. Why not go say hello while I get this straightened out…” or some such: Jerry was red and veiny, doing his best “I do not tolerate stupidity” routine.) I was glad to be able to help out someone whose work I’d already been enjoying for several years.
    My last encounter was on the SFWA forum this past Thursday; he requested some additional info from me regarding he NBC thing, presumably to help spread it around.
    He was a wonderful writer, a great contributor to the SF community, and, although cantankerous, a decent human being.

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  30. It’s interesting to me to realize how many lessons I picked up about living analytically and the pleasures of knowledge from Pournelle’s books have stayed with me. That’s a great kind of legacy to have.

  31. On Jerry’s recommendation, I bought my first computer. An Eagle, it had a detached keyboard.

    I’ll always remember Jerry standing at the door of the SFWA Suite at numerous worldcons, acting as gatekeeper. Even if you were a SFWA member, if he didn’t know or recognize you, you wouldn’t get in.

    He wrote some wonderful books, and with Larry Niven, was a wonderful collaborator. Jerry may be gone, but his books remain, to be enjoyed always.

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