RIP Jerry Pournelle, a Tireless Ambassador for the Future

Image: Orbit’s cover for The Mote in God’s Eye. Art by Lee McLeod.
Image: Orbit’s cover for The Mote in God’s Eye. Art by Lee McLeod.

Jerry Pournelle, the writer behind The Mote in God’s Eye, The Mercenary, Lucifer’s Hammer, and many more, has passed away at the age of 84.


In the realm of science fiction, Pournelle is known for his collaborations with Larry Niven and Steven Barnes as a champion of the New Wave of scifi, and more widely as the first author to publish a novel exclusively written on a personal computer. But Pournelle is also beloved for his regular columns in the pages of Galaxy Science Fiction.

Although his fiction work was criticized as being one of the driving forces of the often-conservative military scifi genre, Pournelle’s Galaxy column A Step Farther Out—eventually collected as a hardback volume—offered a view of the future where humanity would “survive in style,” looking at scientific advancements and offering hopeful glimpses of a world many believed was on the brink at the heights of the Cold War. Pournelle’s advocacy for science extended into the real world too; he championed the space program as part of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy under the Reagan administration in the ‘80s.

Pournelle passed away after a short illness, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

[The view from Chaos Manor]

James is a News Editor at io9, where you can find him delivering your morning spoilers, writing about superheroes, and having many feelings about Star Wars. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!


Jay Ackroyd

I’ve mentioned my love of his collaborations with Larry Niven on another list. I think that Lucifer’s Hammer was among the first science fiction novels I read. It was a great introduction to the genre.