Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Guest of Honor at BayCon 2006 in San Jose, CA, USA

Dr. Jerry Pournelle

One of the things I have learned over the years when reading, regardless of the genre, is to separate the tale being told from the possible political bias. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes it is in your face but it is almost always there. Jerry Pournelle is one of the authors whose politics and views on a lot of issues I probably disagree with yet he does tell a tale quite well. From his wiki intro:

Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte.

Pournelle served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1973.[1

His bio from wiki offers quite a bit more discussion. Besides being an award winning sci-fi writer, he has worked in politics and the aerospace industry and was rumored to have written the “SDI” portion of a Reagan State of the Union address (which Pournelle denies). He was one of the authors of Strategy of Technology which was required reading at all three US service academies and the National and Air War Colleges during the latter half of the Cold War years. That being said, he is also on record as opposing both of the Iraq Wars.

The first of Pournelle’s books I recall reading is Falkenberg’s Legion which apparently is the second book in his Falkenberg’s Legion Series. I’m sure I must have read at least parts of the first book, Prince of Mercenaries as I know I have read back story. Pournelle sets these books in a “future history” universe called the CoDominium where the USA and Soviet Union are political and ruling allies:

The point of departure of Pournelle’s history is the establishment of the CoDominium (CD), a political alliance and union between the United States of America and a revitalized USSR. This union, achieved in the name of planetary stability, reigns over the Earth for over a hundred years. In that time, it achieves peace of a sort, as well as interstellar colonization, but at the price of a complete halt in both scientific and political evolution.

The Falkenberg’s Legion Series has seven books. His CoDominium Universe series includes the Falkenberg books plus at least three books in collaboration with sci-fi author Larry Niven, two of which I have read titled The Mote In God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand about humans discovering and learning to interact with an alien race that is both more and less advanced than humans. Just the title of the first book got my attention.

I only have read the first book of his Janissaries series, also titled Janissaries.

Pournelle is probably not to everyone’s taste since he does write to the military themes so often but as I have noted with both Robert Heinlein and Gordon R. Dickson, I enjoy some of the future history universes with their specialized military and tactics.

Pournelle has over six pages and thirty distinct works listed at Goodreads.com. He has only three credits at IMDB and they are for appearances as himself in documentaries. This is actually not a surprise as it is difficult often to fully translate a lot of science-fiction to the big screen, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg notwithstanding.


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