The word is out tonight that we’ve lost Jerry Pournelle, age 84.
All I can say is, well, dammit! Rest well, Jerry. Sad to hear but not surprised. There had been some quiet chatter I’d heard from people I know in SFWA that after his last stroke he’d gone downhill.
I liked Jerry. More than that, I respected him. That might surprise some people because folks who know us likely remember we spent most of our time arguing. There were very few topics where we saw eye to eye, especially on future directions of SFWA back in the day. I first ran into him in the ancient days when all domain names ended in .ARPA. I think the first time I met him in person was in the green room at Nolacon in New Orleans.
He was one of those people with a big presence; he could fill a room with it. He was a good writer, something I didn’t give him enough credit for when I was younger. I think most authors would consider it a good career to write a book like Footfall, but he also did Inferno and Mote in God’s Eye (probably my favorite of his collaborations with Larry) and his Jannisaries stuff deserves a mention. And there was his column in Byte, which I think we forget today how important and influential it was in the time, in some ways Walt Mossberg before Walt and sort of breaking a trail for people like him.
So I’m kinda sad tonight, because he’s gone, and he was in his way influential in my life in ways he never knew. In ways that maybe I hadn’t thought about much until now. And I guess it bothers me that I can’t tell him, because he can’t tell me I’m being an idiot and I should be thinking about it this other way instead. Because, well, that’s Jerry.
Raising a glass for you, Jerry.