Longtime computer columnist and science fiction author Jerry Pournelle died on Sept 8, 2017. I count Dr. Pournelle as one of my influences.
I was never a big sci-fi fan, so I’ve never read any of his novels. I really enjoyed his computer journalism, however. He was a tech curmudgeon, and he was blunt, but frequently that was what we needed, especially in those early years when computers didn’t work as well as they do today.
Back in 1997 or so, Jerry Pournelle put together a web site. He used Microsoft Frontpage to put together a day book, where he recorded his thoughts for the day. He gained a following. I read him every day, and corresponded with a lot of his other readers. I still correspond with some of them today.
He soon spawned some imitators. In 1999, I decided to join them and give it a try myself. Those early posts are lost to history, and probably it’s better off that way, but that was the beginning of this blog. Sadly, many of those other early bloggers passed on much too soon, and now Dr. Pournelle has joined them.
I only corresponded with Dr. Pournelle a handful of times and I’m sure he wouldn’t recognize my name. I’m just one of thousands of people who sent him e-mail.
It’s been a few years since I read his site regularly. He talked tech a lot less in later years, and I took my writing a different direction. That’s not a knock on Dr. Pournelle. He had his own voice and I needed to find mine. But I learned a lot about writing by reading his work, and a lot about analysis, and for a while, a whole lot about tech. He was as profound and insightful as anyone.
Thank you, Dr. Pournelle. I will miss you. So will countless others.