Science fiction titan Jerry Pournelle dies at 84

Contributed by
Sep 11, 2017

Author Jerry Pournelle, a titan of science fiction, has died at the age 84.

According to an announcement by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Pournelle died on Friday. The cause of death was not disclosed. Pournelle had attended Dragon Con a week earlier, and afterward wrote on his blog of battling a cold and flu.

Pournelle wrote both hard science fiction and military science fiction and is best known as the co-author, along with Larry Niven, of such novels as The Mote in God's Eye, Inferno, Lucifer's Hammer, Oath of Fealty, and The Gripping Hand.

Although it was the 1974 novel A Mote in God’s Eye that grafted itself onto the zeitgeist of science fiction, his work Fallen Angels — co-written by Niven and Michael Flynn, about rescuing crashed astronauts — has become a fan favorite, with its protagonists ultimately being saved by fandom.

Pournelle was also widely touted as having published the first book written on a computer. The computer, purchased in 1977, cost $12,000. The national average wage that year? A mere $9,779.44.

When he wasn’t writing science fiction, Pournelle wrote about technology, first for Byte magazine, then Byte.com. He co-founded and contributed to A New Domain, a blog about technology, science, and politics.

In a message posted on SFWA's website, the organization's president, Cat Rambo, paid tribute to Pournelle.

“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," she wrote. " 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.”

(via SFWA)