Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jerry Pournelle noted

So, science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle died a few days ago.  

By way of The Mote in God's Eye, which (unusually) my mother bought for me as a birthday gift when I was 16 or 17 on the recommendation of someone in a bookshop, I got back into reading science fiction as a young adult and that continued for a good decade or so.  I did follow Jerry Pournelle in that period, and think I have A Step Further Out, his collection of science fact articles, on my shelf.   It was a good example of relatively realistic techno optimism of the period. 

That said, I think his fiction really did reach an early peak with Mote, and unfortunately (at least after Inferno, which I also enjoyed)  I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with his collaborations with Niven, even the ones which were commercially successful (Lucifer's Hammer, for example.)   I forget the last one I tried, but I have never picked up the sequel to Mote, out of a fair degree of certainty that there were no grounds to be optimistic that they were suddenly good again.  His own novels were rather staid and not memorable.   Some of his anthology collections he edited were OK, though.  I remember enjoying one on black holes, when they were all new and the talk of science fiction.

As for his politics:   they were right wing, although where he fell on the libertarian/conservative spectrum was always a bit unclear.   He was a practising Catholic, I believe, but there was never any softening towards the Left as he aged.   Unfortunately, he did show clear signs of culture warrior sclerosis of judgement, as in the last decade he was easily persuaded by the pseudo skeptics of climate change, and seemed to me to be very soft on Trump.  Still, he contributed to quite a few years of science fiction enjoyment when I was a young man, and I thank him for that.

No comments: