Jerry Pournelle is gone.  He celebrated his 84th birthday only a month ago, and just a few days ago went to DragonCon in Atlanta.  On his last blog post, he mentioned he was “back from DragonCon with both a cold and the flu” and that he would therefore be skipping a Mars Society meeting.  He discussed DACA and the Dreamers situation, then concluded, “More later I’m experiencing a wave of nausea.  Bye for now.”

Jerry Pournelle, Seattle NASFiC, 2005

Jerry Pournelle at NASFic 2008 {image courtesy of G. E. Rule}

Dr. Jerry Eugene Pournelle was a writer, a political scholar, an operations research expert, and an editor.  He was born August 7, 1933, in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Pournelle attended Christian Brothers High School in Memphis.  He served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, which greatly influenced his writing.  He studied psychology and political science at the University of Washington.  He taught political science and pre-law at Pepperdine University, and was founder of the Pepperdine Research Institute.

In addition to his award-winning science fiction books, Dr. Pournelle wrote textbooks used by military academies, columns for magazines as diverse as Byte and Survive, and articles on war gaming and military tactics for Avalon Hill’s magazine The General.  In addition to writing about spaceships and aliens, he worked in the aerospace industry in real life.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle won many awards, and was nominated for many others.  In 1973 he was first recipient of the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In 2016, Pournelle won the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award from the National Space Society.  In between he was frequently nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.  He won the Seiun, Prometheus, and Phoenix awards.

Although he wrote many novels, stories, and essays, Dr. Pournelle was best known for his CoDominion series, his Janissaries series, and his many collaborations with Larry Niven.  He was actively involved with LASFS for decades.  More than once he described himself as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan,” and for years he served as science advisor to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.  He was president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1973.

His son Alex Pournelle announced that Dr. Pournelle died September 8, 2017.  “He did not suffer.”  He passed away in his sleep in his home in Studio City, California.

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