Sunday, September 10, 2017

Keyboard Stilled

Jerry Pournelle, half of the duo that produced the great Mote in God's Eye and Lucifer's Hammer, passed away a couple of days after returning from a science fiction convention.

Other than having just sent a finished manuscript to a publisher or just told the best joke in the room, finishing a fun con is probably the way in which Pournelle would most like to have stepped off this mortal coil. Most modern military sci-fi and space opera traces roots back to his work in the early 1970s. His right-leaning libertarianism makes a lot of people see him as one of Robert Heinlein's truest heirs in both tech-savvy "hard" sci-fi writing and cantankerous politics.

Pournelle's collaborations, with Niven alone or with Niven and others, will probably outlast some of his own work in terms of impact on the science fiction field. Re-reading some of what I enjoyed as a young Friar exposes some of the weaknesses of a solo Pournelle work, a few of which are mentioned in the review of Mote linked above. But none of those collaborations would be what they are without him, and so he himself has stamped something indelible on the genre.

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