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The Best of Jerry Pournelle –

The Best of Jerry Pournelle

Sunday , 27, February 2022 1 Comment

Best of collections are good introductions to a writer. In the case of The Best of Jerry Pournelle, it is a case of collecting various odds and ends, many I had not read before.

This is a sort of memorial collection as it came out after his death in 2017. This is a big anthology of 760 pages in paperback.

John F. Carr has an introduction “What was Jerry Pournelle really like?” There are non-fiction remembrances interspersed within the volume by Larry Niven, David Gerrold, Steven Barnes, and Robert Gleason.

Contents include one non-fiction essay, the preface to There Will Be War Vol 1. My two favorite Pournelle series are John Christian Falkenberg and Janissaries. Two Falkenberg novelettes are included. Unfortunately, Pournelle never wrote any shorter Janissaries fiction.

Some hard science works of fiction that explore getting into space and colonizing it. There are stories from his future history that could be called “space-opera.” One essay, “The Science and Technology of Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominium/Empire of Man Universe” explains very well the details on how the CoDominium can jump star systems but limited to sub-speed of light speed within solar systems. Pournelle definitely had one of the best backgrounds worked out for space-opera.

Nuclear energy is the subject of two stories including “Ecology Now!” his first published work of fiction.

Included are two stories co-written with Larry Niven and one by Steven Barnes-Niven-Pournelle. “The Secret of Black Ship Island” by the three has a semi-sentient life form called “cthulhus” by the colonists. You never know where Lovecraft is going to pop up.

An interesting story is “Kenyons to the Keep!” Set in California after a civilizational collapse, it has some old-fashioned blood & thunder with horses and edged weapons. Post-apocalypse can be very hit or miss and it is a shame Pournelle did not do more with this setting.

Military science fiction grew in the 1970s to no small part due to Jerry Pournelle. The There Will Be War anthologies were a great series in the 1980s. If you read those volumes, you will have very good grounding in one form of science fiction.

So, this is a good volume to read and add to your library.

One Comment
  • Mike Tuggle says:

    I first encountered Pournelle as an Organizational Development analyst. I was astounded to learn he wrote sci-fi, and GREAT sci-fi at that.

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