POURNELLE, Jerry E(ugene)

POURNELLE, Jerry E(ugene)
   US writer with an undergraduate degree in engineering and PhDs from the University of Washington in psychology (1960) and political science (1964). He was employed for 15 years in the US space programme, working for both government and private firms, and at one time was a political campaign manager. Before entering sf, JP wrote some technical nonfiction and some fiction, occasionally using pseudonyms and house names. His first books were a nonfiction text, The Strategy of Technology (1970) with Stefan T. Possony, and two non-sf novels as by Wade Curtis:Red Heroin (1969; 1985 as JEP) and Red Dragon (1971; 1985 as JEP); he used the Curtis name also for a few stories in ASF, though his first sf story, "Peace with Honor", appeared in 1971 under his own name.This story formspart of JEP's most extended series, the CoDominium sequence, earlier parts of which are named after their chief military protagonist, a cunning, honourable mercenary and military genius named Falkenberg who, in a period of civilian stupidity and venality (it is a sort of period often depicted in JP's work), conspires with the CoDominium military force to maintain a human presence in those worlds already colonized by mankind. He appears in West of Honor (1976 Canada) and The Mercenary (fixup 1977), the latterbook reworking "Peace with Honor" and other stories - both vols being assembled as Falkenberg's Legion (omni 1990) - and in Prince of Mercenaries (fixup 1989),Go Tell the Spartans (1991) and Prince of Sparta(1993), both with S.M. STIRLING. Set considerably later in the CoDominium world - after the rise and fall of a first Empire of Man, an interregnum, and the birth of the Second Empire - A Spaceship for the King (1973; exp vt King David's Spaceship 1981) also features a tough military genius, whose resemblance to Falkenberg is obviously of thematic importance, for JP argues implicitly in the sequence that civilization can be sustainedonly through a hierarchical structuring of society which - perhaps rather magically - manages to avoid bureaucratic sclerosis, and through the maintenance of such military virtues as honour and loyalty. These arguments are most clearly on view in the series' climax, THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE (1974) with Larry NIVEN, set in a period when the CoDominium hasevolved into a full-blown GALACTIC EMPIRE with all the trappings. The fascinating ALIENS depicted in that novel reflect his collaborator's conceptual ingenuity as clearly as the human Empire reflects JP's sustained fictional argument for that kind of solution to the problems of just government. The sequel, The Gripping Hand (1993; vt The Moat Around Murcheson's Eyes 1993 UK), lacks the thrusting innovativeness of the firstvolume. The more recent War World sequence of SHARED-WORLD anthologies - War World, Volume 1: The Burning Eye * (anth 1988) with John F. CARR andRoland GREEN, \#2: Death's Head Rebellion * (anth 1990) with Carr and Green, \#3: Sauron Dominion * (anth 1991) with Carr alone, \#5: Blood Feuds* (anth 1992), \#6: Blood Vengeance *(anth 1994) and \#8: Invasion *(anth 1994) - carries the CoDominium concept into broader waters, with a prequel, \#4: Codominium: Revolt on War World * (anth 1992) with Carr, setting the stage.After THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE, JEP collaborated with Niven on several further novels, all singletons and most extremely successful in the marketplace (for details see Larry NIVEN). They include Inferno (1976), Lucifer's Hammer (1977), Oath of Fealty (1981), which rewritesCoDominium feudalism in mundane - indeed, suburbanized - terms, Footfall (1985), The Legacy of Heorot (1987 UK), with Niven and Steven BARNES, and Fallen Angels (1991), with Niven and Michael FLYNN. Political subtexts - always evident in both main collaborators' solo work - tend in their joint efforts to surface rather more frequently, to the discomfort of some readers, especially those unaccustomed to the singularly narrow range of political discourse in the USA (though within that narrow range its expression is singularly open); other readers find the books refreshingly "robust" (POLITICS).Most of JEP's solo work not devoted to the CoDominiumalso focuses on issues of WAR and the decorums and tactics of waging war. A second, shorter and more pessimistic series, the Laurie Jo Hansensequence, substitutes corporate warfare for military/political conflict: High Justice (coll of linked stories 1977) and Exiled to Glory (1978). TheJanissaries sequence - Janissaries (1979), Janissaries: Clan and Crown (1983) with Roland Green and Janissaries 3: Storms of Victory (1987), again with Green - returns to explicit warfare, describing a mercenary leader's efforts to unify the planet to which he and his soldiers have been transplanted. JEP also edited, with John F. Carr (not always credited), the There Will be War sequence of military anthologies: There Will be War (anth 1983), Vol II: Men of War (anth 1984), Vol III: Bloodand Iron (anth 1984), Vol IV: Day of the Tyrant (anth 1985), Vol V: Warrior (anth 1986), Vol VI: Guns of Darkness (anth 1987), Vol VII: Callto Battle (anth 1988), Vol VIII: Armageddon! (anth 1989) and Vol IX: After Armageddon (anth 1990).JEP was first recipient of the JOHN W. CAMPBELLAWARD for Best New Writer in 1973, and very rapidly established himself as a dominant creator of the politically conservative-libertarian HARD-SF tale. His military sf has shaped that subgenre as well, though it would be unfair to blame him for the excesses of his imitators. His nonfiction, too, has been notable for its engaging clarity, its constant presentation of political agendas, and its eagerness to convey knowledge. A sense of deep cultural pessimism, though countered by explicit avowals of LIBERTARIAN hopefulness, pervades and - for many readers - humanizes hiswork.
   Other works: Escape from the Planet of the Apes * (1974), a film tie (ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES); Birth of Fire (1976 Canada).Nonfiction: That Buck Rogers Stuff (coll 1977); A Step Farther Out(coll 1979); Mutual Assured Survival: A Space-Age Solution to Nuclear Annihilation (1984) with Dean ING; The User's Guide to Small Computers (1984); Adventures in Microland (1986).As Editor: 2020 Vision (anth 1974); Black Holes (anth 1978) with John F. Carr (here, and occasionally elsewhere, uncredited); The Endless Frontier (anth 1979), The Endless Frontier, Volume 2 (anth 1985) and Cities in Space (anth 1991), all withCarr; The Survival of Freedom (anth 1981) with Carr; Nebula Award Stories Sixteen (anth 1982); The Science Fiction Yearbook (anth 1985) with Carr; the FAR FRONTIERS original anthology series, all with James BAEN, Far Frontiers (anth 1985), Vol II (anth 1985), Vol III (anth 1985), Vol IV(anth 1986), Vol V (anth 1986), Vol VI (anth 1986) and Vol VII (anth 1986); the Imperial Stars reprint anthologies with Carr, Imperial Stars, Vol 1: The Stars at War (anth 1986), Vol 2: Republic and Empire (anth 1987) and Vol 3: the Crash of Empire (anth 1989).

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.