The left regards [individualism] as a kind of
stubborn perversion, which they ignorantly
and twistedly confuse with racism or elitism
Jerry and Me
by J. Neil Schulman
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Jerry Pournelle (August 7, 1933 - September 8, 2017)
source: Wikimedia commons
Jerry Pournelle read the manuscript of Alongside Night after David Hartwell had given it final acceptance for publication as a Berkley paperback original and—at a LASFS meeting—Jerry handed me 30 pages of notes, telling me that Robert Heinlein had given Larry Niven and him extensive notes on The Mote in God’s Eye with the admonition, “Pay It Forward.”
I said to Jerry, “How can I do another draft when the publisher has already given the manuscript final acceptance?”
Jerry replied, “Whose name is going to be on the cover?”
It ended up that Alongside Night was reverted to me before publication by Berkley and before it was re-sold and published as a Crown Publishers hardcover I used Jerry ’s notes for one more final draft.
One of Jerry’s notes was that the character of my antagonist, FBI Director Lawrence Powers, was two-dimensional. I asked Jerry for any specific suggestion about how to improve the character and Jerry said, “Base him on me.”
I did, and that’s one of the reasons that in the Alongside Night movie (where I updated FBI to FEMA) I have a FEMA agent (with the prior permission of both Jerry and Larry) named “Larry Pournelle.”
Jerry’s endorsement of Alongside Night was on the dust jacket of the Crown edition and the front cover of the first Ace paperback: “Anyone interested in freedom will find this more than readable." Back in February I sent Jerry a copy of the Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD combo and asked him if I could add his name to the movie’s endorsements, and he emailed me back on February 13, 2017, “Add away. It was a good book.”
Jerry also made my third novel, Escape from Heaven, "Chaos Manor Book of the Month," back when it was being published as a column in Byte Magazine: “Just plain fun … J. Neil Schulman’s Escape From Heaven is a romp, an attempt to rewrite C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce , with the theology removed. It’s fair to say that Schulman, behind the pure fun he’s having, has the serious Miltonic purpose of justifying God’s ways to man. Milton would have thought him a heretic, and I suspect C.S. Lewis would have said Schulman (like Heinlein in Job) missed the point; but for all that it’s a good read, and if the assumptions annoy you that might make you rethink your own: no bad thing … I found I kept reading to the end.”
Jerry also published me on occasion as a columnist to Chaos Manor. My essay “Unholy Lands” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—first published in Chaos Manor—is now a chapter in my latest book, J. Neil Schulman’s Book of Words, on Amazon in a Kindle edition.
The last time I saw Jerry in person was at a LosCon convention panel where—after I noticed that the con hadn ’t bothered to provide Jerry with a beverage—I made a Starbucks run for Jerry.
Of course over many, many other conventions Jerry made it a practice to hold a knife to the throats of libertarians including Sam Konkin and me, to make the point that only the existence of government and the potential of state punishment prevented him from cutting our throats. When I refused to be upset at this at one worldcon party he asked me why I wasn’t afraid, and I said, “Your manners are too good to kill a fellow SFWA member at a convention.”
Jerry was one of the greats.
His book co written with Stefan Possony, The Strategy of Technology, may well be the reason we’re still alive and you’re reading this.
His work for NASA developing technologies including remote cardiac monitors now standard in all hospitals has saved countless lives.
And he’s written, both solo and with collaborators, some of the best science-fiction there is.
Jerry believed in Heaven and I have high confidence that’s where he is now.
Blogs: http://jneilschulman.agorist.com http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com
The World According to J. Neil Schulman:
J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio
personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include
the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza,
both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus
Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish,
And Short Stories.
Read more about him.
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