meep (meep) wrote,

RIP, Jerry Pournelle The first book (co-)authored by him I read was Inferno, which, if anything, I…

Tags: from facebook
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
Uncultured oaf that I am, I've never gotten around to reading Dante's Divine Comedy* but my daughter has; I should ask her which one she likes better. Somehow I doubt that she got all the references in the Niven & Pournelle version.

I began reading Jerry's SF when I was in junior high school, I think, and was very excited to meet him at the 1974 Worldcon in DC, where he was kind enough to sign my copy of Analog with his story "The Mercenary". I liked his tales of Colonel Falkenberg's regiment better than Gordy Dickson's Dorsai tales; the Dorsai always seemed superhuman to me, while Falkenberg and his men were people I could identify with.

*I am assured that the non-Inferno parts are boring as...yeah.
Look, I understand why people generally find Inferno the most compelling of the three books -- it's the most visceral, for definite. It's pretty dishy re: political vendettas & gossip. you get the classical figures -- you can't get the pagans into purgatory or heaven, after all.


Paradiso has a lot of mathematical imagery and lots of gorgeousness - full of faith, hope, and charity, natch.

I find Purgatorio the most compelling, as I think it's the most human of the three. both those in Inferno & Paradiso are in their final places. They are not ever to leave their spheres. But Purgatorio has an implicit movement - these people are ultimately saved, but not yet in Heaven. They've still got a struggle going on.

The way Niven & Pournelle made their Inferno a little relatable is that their characters aren't stuck in Hell (unlike with Dante). In Dante's, there really is no hope. You're damned, and that's it. In N&P, you can escape, though it's extremely difficult (and not a promise, unlike Purgatory).

Anyway, I like Purgatorio. It may be the least popular of the three, but one hopes it's what most of us will deal with at some point.
I'll have to have a go at it, then.
Pournelle was a big influence on me. He'll be missed.
It would be interesting to try and figure out whether he had more influence as a writer, inspiring others, or as an editor of what seemed like several zillion anthologies, to say nothing of creating the War World sandbox.