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Jerry Pournelle, 8/7/1933 - 9/8/2017


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Science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle offered fact-based hope for our future

Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Sept. 11, 2017

 

Jerry Pournelle died on Friday, peacefully in his sleep. With his death, America lost an important figure.

Pournelle wrote many bestselling science fiction novels, both on his own and with Larry Niven. Of these, Lucifer’s Hammer and The Mote in God’s Eye, both major bestsellers, are probably the best known, though I think that artistically, Inferno — a reboot that I think Dante Alighieri himself would have approved — was the best. (Does a novel set in Hell count as science fiction? I don’t know, but it was exceptionally good).

 

But Pournelle didn’t just write fiction. His 1970 book with Stefan Possony, The Strategy of Technology, outlined a strategy for winning the Cold War (with among other things, an emphasis on strategic missile defense) that was largely followed, and successfully, by the Reagan administration. He was a driving force behind the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy in the 1980s that helped lay the groundwork for today’s booming civilian space launch industry. And, for me, his wide-ranging columns in Galaxy Magazine, back when it was edited by star editor James Baen, were particularly influential.

 

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This explains why the world is a bit grayer, duller today.  RIP Jerry

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