ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2018 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

GRRM on Jerry Pournelle

Give credit to the man, unlike some of the younger SF-SJWs, he understands there is a time to criticize and there is a time to eulogize. His post is titled A Sadness:
Jerry Pournelle has passed away. He was 84.

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.

Pournelle has been a major figure in the field for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met him in 1973 at the worldcon in Toronto, where both of us were finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (along with Lisa Tuttle, Ruth Berman, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Thurston). That was the very first year the award was given. To the surprise of no one, Pournelle won, though Geo. Alec Effinger finished so close behind the con gave him a special second place plaque, the only time THAT ever happened. (How close, you may ask? Ten votes, two votes, a single vote? No one knows. In those days, worldcons did not release vote totals).

The Hugos were given at a banquet in those days. I could not afford a ticket, so I came in after the meal for the awards. It was rather an unusual ceremony. The Hugo rockets had not arrived, so the winners received only empty bases... except for Jerry, since the Campbell sponsors (Conde Nast, in those days) HAD managed to come up with a plaque. There's Jerry holding it, above.

The other weirdness about that night was that toastmaster Lester del Rey, for reasons only known to himself, chose to present the awards backwards. In other words, he started with Best Novel (the 'Big One,' then as now), working his way though short fiction and to the fan awards, and ended with the brand-new never-given-before Campbell. Thing is, people started leaving after each award was given, and by the end, there was hardly anyone left in the hall except me, Jerry Pournelle and his party, and the other nominees and their friends (I think Lisa Tuttle and Ruth Berman were there, but Thurston and Effinger were not, someone else accepted the plaque for Piglet).

I came out of the night all right. It was an honor, a huge honor, just to be nominated. And in the aftermath I came up with the idea of a Campbell Awards anthology. A couple editors told me it was an idea worth pursuing, but of course I needed to get all the nominees to sign on... and the key one was Jerry, the winner. So I bought him a drink and pitched him the notion, and he said yes (though, being the consummate pro, he made that contingent on me being able to pay competitive professional rates). Eventually that conversation led to my NEW VOICES anthology, and launched my career as an editor and anthologist... and I'm still going strong there, forty-four years later.

The Hugo voters knew what they were doing when they gave Pournelle that first Campbell; he went on to have an amazing career, both on his own and in collaboration with other writers, particularly Larry Niven. With INFERNO, LUCIFER'S HAMMER, FOOTFALL, and (especially) MOTE IN GOD'S EYE, the two of them helped transform the field in the 70s. They were among the very first SF writers ever to hit the big bestseller lists, and among the first to get six-figure advances at the time when most writers were still getting four figure advances... something that Jerry was never shy about mentioning. Though he was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards in the years that followed, he never won one... but if that bothered him, he did not show it. "Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money," he said famously.

Pournelle was fond of talking about all the help Robert A. Heinlein (whom he always called "Mr. Heinlein," at least in my hearing) gave him when he was starting out, and he was a passionate advocate of RAH's "pay it forward" philosophy, and did much to help the generations of writers who came after him. He served a term in the thankless job of SFWA President, and remained an active part of SFWA ever after, as part of the advisory board of Past Presidents and (even more crucially) on GriefCom, the Grievance Committee. Jerry could be loud and acrimonious, yes, and when you were on the opposite side of a fight from him that was not pleasant... ahh, but when you were on the SAME side, there was no one better to have in your foxhole. I had need of SFWA's Griefcom only once in my career, in the early 80s, and when we met at worldcon with the publisher I had Jerry with me representing Griefcom. He went through the publisher's people like a buzzsaw, and got me everything I wanted, resolving my grievance satisfactorily (and confidentially, so no, no more details).

His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I'm your classic bleeding-heart liberal... but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don't need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. And while MOTE IN GOD'S EYE may not have won the Hugo in its year, it remains one of the great classics of space opera, destined to be read and re-read for as long as people read science fiction (it IS an honor just to be nominated).

The last time I saw Jerry was at Keith Kato's chili party at MidAmericon II. He loved Keith's chili as much as I do, another point in his favor.

R.I.P. Jerry. You were one ornery so-and-so, but you were our ornery so-and-so. Hoist a pint for me at that Secret Pro Party in the sky, and say hello to Mr. Heinlein.

Labels:

34 Comments:

Anonymous WinstonWebb September 21, 2017 4:11 PM  

GRRM wrote that?
Huh.
Not one mention of sexual assault.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr September 21, 2017 4:21 PM  

Amen. I suspect that Dr. Pournelle did a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes, in a variety of fields. Hopefully someone will do a biography, for I honestly consider him to have been Robert Heinlein's intellectual heir.

Blogger slarrow September 21, 2017 4:22 PM  

Classy of GRRM to write that. Good to see Pournelle honored like that.

Blogger lowercaseb September 21, 2017 5:05 PM  

People in my town wonder why I am a conservative. THIS is the type of discourse I want to conserve. A day when you could disagree with someone vehemently politically, and still look at them with respect.

It gladdens my heart to see that GRRM still has that about him.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash September 21, 2017 5:08 PM  

lowercaseb wrote:It gladdens my heart to see that GRRM still has that about him.
Now, ask him about Vox Day or Larry Correia or Brad Torgerson.

Blogger lowercaseb September 21, 2017 5:14 PM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Now, ask him about Vox Day or Larry Correia or Brad Torgerson.

Fair point...but it's worth giving the carrot every once in a while when they do the right thing. That eulogy was GRRM using his gifts for good.

Blogger J Melcher September 21, 2017 5:17 PM  

I agree GRRM wrote Pournelle farewell with very good grace. Such grace seems to be correlated with age, at present. Those trained in the proverbial "old school" behave differently than those coming into the debate more recently.

Blogger Chris Lopes September 21, 2017 5:30 PM  

The younger sjw's just remember Pournelle as the guy they were told to no award because he was working with the evil dreaded Vox. They were instructed to do so by older, more cowardly sjw's who tried to claim ignorance after the fact.

Blogger Raben Wulf September 21, 2017 5:57 PM  

The "classic bleeding-heart liberal" part was a bit... odd. GRRM is full on progressive, social justice driven "fabian socialist" at this point.

Anonymous Marvin Boggs September 21, 2017 6:05 PM  

"His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I'm your classic bleeding-heart liberal... but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don't need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. "

I'll have to upgrade my view of GRRM.

Blogger Dexter September 21, 2017 6:09 PM  

"Oh and one other thing... his books didn't have enough rape in them. Or incest. Or incestuous rape. Did I mention I like rape?"

GRRM

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents September 21, 2017 6:12 PM  

Dr. Pournelle liked chili because he had plenty of chili.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( i'm sorry you raped Andrea Dworkin and i disavow your Patriarchal Cisheteronormative Bourgeois Consciousness in shame ) September 21, 2017 6:26 PM  

Raben Wulf September 21, 2017 5:57 PM
was a bit... odd.



SJWs always lie.

George is trying to portray himself as harmless and well meaning.

but his leitmotif is rape.

which is the 'true' George?

Blogger Leatherwing September 21, 2017 6:31 PM  

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.
Damn. It sounds like he may have caught con-crud. I caught it about every other year at Dragon-Con.

Blogger LP9 September 21, 2017 7:03 PM  

Big gay steve, love you bro, I miss you at "G" among others whom counseled me, helped me a great deal for months, I miss Spacebunny, I reject and denounce the absurd retarded hatred dealt out at us, its terrible but it doesn't phaze me, I will support and help any way I can.

I like the cytpofashion which its gone now as I left gab, I want to buy the books, shirts, etc., these are good people trying to help others; Milo, Cerno, Vox, Koanic, Beau, Salt, Ivan, Stefan, the list goes on and on.

Jerry's death and his memorial week was wrecked up due (immature SJW distraction) to the Torba matter/court issue in social media; the focus of this week was in fact Jerry's life and work - my father loves Jerry, Dune is a book but also a 1991/92 release of the Dune perfume, which is amazing. I have to take my laptop to the nursing home where dad is dying to read to him, with great bittersweet joy I do this -

I cannot do what dad wants; he was asking me to use my youtube acct to transcribe/read all sorts of things alot of Roosh, Hearstie, Ivan, Larry, Crevald, any of their work at blogs he wants read to him; Milo, Savage, Trump speeches, Vox, Stefan, Cerno, John B Wells, Mate, Perterson, etc., transcribed, its copyrighted so I dont think I can - I am sorry to post again RE: Gab but Gab allowed a terrible article RE; Vox's dad, it was horrible and disgusting - and at Gab; going after wonderful fathers is appalling. I'm in court over moms family and now they are challenging my stating dad is blind, paralyzed and dementia'ed; Vox's father is a great man that walk out of his issue; my precious patriarch, dad is suffering, there are blog rules, the host and moderators to respect, they are gracious people. These blog rules remain to abide by - end of story.

I am concerned for Snid Whiplash, what can I pray for? Concerned for Aroeil, whatever I can support and pray for let me know, I am thrilled for Tara she is amazing, Hoyt is being slandered at fandom's ezine. Terrible.

Whatever I can do let me know; prayer, support etc.

Blogger Matthew September 21, 2017 7:22 PM  

That was very good. Mr. Martin should dwell on his own past memories more often when writing.

Blogger Matthew September 21, 2017 7:25 PM  

LP9, God bless you. And your father. And everyone you would bless.

Blogger James Dixon September 21, 2017 7:30 PM  

> Classy of GRRM to write that. Good to see Pournelle honored like that.

GRRM likes to fancy himself the elder statesman of SF&F at this point. Remember that kept trying to stay neutral at the beginning of the puppy wars. Of course, we all know how honest that was, but he did make a pose of doing so at first.

> he was asking me to use my youtube acct to transcribe/read all sorts of things alot of Roosh, Hearstie, Ivan, Larry, Crevald, any of their work at blogs he wants read to him; Milo, Savage, Trump speeches, Vox, Stefan, Cerno, John B Wells, Mate, Perterson, etc., transcribed,

Ask for permission. I'm pretty sure Vox at least will grant it.

Blogger Lovekraft September 21, 2017 7:37 PM  

At the halfway point of "Footfall" (co-authored with Larry Niven) and it has a strong attention to detail, is nailing the human emotion, not to mention strong pacing and extensive scope. Really good read.

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents September 21, 2017 8:18 PM  

@19 Lovecraft
At the halfway point of "Footfall"

Watch for Orion.

Anonymous Steve September 21, 2017 9:01 PM  

At the halfway point of "Footfall" (co-authored with Larry Niven) and it has a strong attention to detail, is nailing the human emotion, not to mention strong pacing and extensive scope. Really good read.

Excellent book. I also enjoyed LUCIFER'S HAMMER.

Re: well written characters, not sure how much was Pournelle as opposed to Niven, but it's striking just how... normal Jerry Pournelle comes across in his writing - both the fiction and non-fiction. (Cf. Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, who were all oddballs, and thus struggled to write convincing adult human characters.)

He was one of that breed - always unusual, almost extinct now - of distinctly American polymaths. And despite his vast reservoirs of science, technology, politics, history, etc. you never feel talked down to by his writing. Quite the opposite. His prose is uncommonly lucid, scintillating with intelligence and wit, explaining complex subjects in straightforward language without dumbing down.

When he sprinkled a bit of Classical knowledge on an essay about military technology in space or what-have-you, he did it to enrich you with relevant information, not to show off.

He might've been of the most uncommon type of all: the neurotypical genius.

Blogger Last Redoubt September 21, 2017 9:11 PM  

Loved Footfall, Lucerfers, inferno, King David's Spaceship, Mote is my hands-down favorite novel ever.

It's also fun to note that Oath of Fealty not only has some damned interesting social commentary, some serious exploration of arcologies and how they would work (also think generation ships - and yes, that's brought up), and finally, beat out william gibson with "cybernetic" computer interface implants by a couple years.

Blogger Last Redoubt September 21, 2017 9:12 PM  

Pournelle taught me what I missed in ignoring my shitty public school teachers, AND what I could have learned if I'd had good ones.. He was like a second dad. I'll miss him.

Anonymous Rococo September 21, 2017 9:30 PM  

Now, ask him about Vox Day or Larry Correia or Brad Torgerson.

They aren't Jerry Pournelle.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash September 21, 2017 9:44 PM  

They are all honest, honorable men who have gone out of their way to help out new authors and improve SF.
And they are treated like crap simply because they are not Left enough.

Anonymous JAMES September 21, 2017 10:26 PM  

Reminds me of a politician talking about a deceased colleague they despised while alive.

Anonymous Adam September 22, 2017 1:27 AM  

Holding a lit cigar while showing his award. Like a boss.

Anonymous SciVo de Plorable September 22, 2017 3:28 AM  

LP9 wrote:Whatever I can do let me know; prayer, support etc.

I've been happy to watch you morph as you cohere. Please pray for both my parents, who appear to be physically entering their final years. Faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain, but I can't believe that they will live forever; I only dare pray that they keep their dignity and peace.

Anonymous Nothing is Permanent but Woe September 22, 2017 3:37 AM  

No trolling, despite my issues with this blog, I enjoyed Jerry Pournelle's work. Sad to hear he's passed and my condolences to anyone here who knew him well.

Blogger Bibliotheca Servare September 22, 2017 3:41 AM  

I wish I could have met him. One of the Giants whose shoulders serve as a foundation for so much of modern science fiction...and his work in the area of space exploration, rockets etc... I discovered that after reading The Mote in God's Eye" and it blew me away. Not only was he a brilliant author, but he was a brilliant scientist and policy advisor, too? And his resume doesn't end there, by any means. Truly an incredible man, to say the least.

On a related note, after reading GRRM's eulogy, I felt driven to see what *other* people who were...adversarial...with Dr. Pournelle had said about his passing into the arms of the Lord, and I found $calzi's post on the subject. (I used a $ instead of an s because I wasn't sure if I should actually write his name, because of Google alerts or something)

It wasn't bad, as far as I could tell. Fairly generic, but inoffensive, I thought. Then I (because I'm a moron) started reading the comments.

Nothing too objectionable or stupid, though there were at least two or three "but he wuz a Nazi Sympathizer/Collaborator!!!1eleventy!" types, still triggered by the fact that the good doctor dared to publish with Castalia House, of course. Then I got to the gem I'm going to link to. This person claimed to be a "friend" of Dr. Pournelle, and she said (essentially) that Dr. Pournelle was as bad a person as he was, not because he was inherently bad, but because he was an "alcoholic" for "10 years" and did all manner of unspeakable, unforgivable things in that time, whilst simultaneously dropping his IQ "30 points". Oh, and "destroying his critical thinking skills" (or something in that vein) with the alcohol, too. I don't know how much, if any, of what this person said bears any resemblance to the truth, but it sounded like carefully crafted character assassination to me. Maybe I should have just ignored it, but it read like just the kind of poisonous thing these sons of donkeys might have carefully crafted in an effort to try and destroy Dr. Pournelle's legacy and reputation, after his death. Anyway, I archived it, so I'll link to the archive and the original, if that's okay.

Original: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/09/08/rip-jerry-pournelle/#comment-839957

archive: http://archive.is/6Pmqe

I apologize if I've overstepped; no disrespect is/was intended.

Blogger wreckage September 22, 2017 5:28 AM  

I'd answer that entire line of commentary with *citation needed*

Blogger Zeke OF Confettii September 22, 2017 10:24 AM  

Dr. Pournelle was as Railroad Martin describes him and _more. When a now-infamous Publisher bought ACE books, Dr. Pournelle asked "Tom" if he was going to be paying the royalties due to ACE authors, as ACE had not been, for years. It's my understanding that they were so paid.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera September 22, 2017 12:10 PM  

Say what you want about Rape Rape, the man can spin a yarn.

Anonymous Mr. Rational September 23, 2017 1:25 AM  

Steve wrote:At the halfway point of "Footfall"

Excellent book. I also enjoyed LUCIFER'S HAMMER.

And once you read "The Mote in God's Eye" as well, you'll realize just how much of Footfall was a rehash of those two earlier works.  Not that Footfall is remotely bad by any standard of SF other than one which considers Jemisin and Delaney as other than shit writers, it's just not original.

But that's for the purists.  It was still fun and thought-provoking, which is all I really ask for.  Had you told me it was derivative I still would have bought it, read it and put it on my shelf, where it resides to this day.

Rococo wrote:They aren't Jerry Pournelle.
There will never be another.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts