I met Jerry Pournelle in the spring of 1995 when I installed a firewall at Chaos Manor. He and Mrs. Pournelle could not have been more gracious - they actually took me out to dinner.
Sometimes people play the "Who would you want to have to a dinner party" game, imagining the great wits and deep thinkers of the past and who would make the liveliest evening. I haven't thought I needed to play that game because of that dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Pournelle. He had an unbelievably interesting life and was a great storyteller, and she kept right up with him. So I've already lived that game. It was truly an evening to remember.
And it was done casually - just a brilliant but astonishingly normal couple, entirely lacking in pretension. Who quite politely ignored how star-struck I was. Actually, who kind of helped me get over my star-struckness.
You see, I had read his books back in high school, and even had a first edition of Lucifer's Hammer. I thought about taking it out to ask him to sign it, but my dog Jack had chewed it pretty badly when he was a puppy, so I didn't. I still think that The Mote In God's Eye is the finest space opera ever written, but what I enjoyed the most was his monthly columns in Byte Magazine, A Step Farther Out. His Science Fact writing was even more exciting than his science fiction to me.
And so to the dinner conversation that evening. It was one of the most interesting dinner conversations I've had.
Rest in peace, Dr. Pournelle. Thanks for the dinner, but even more thanks for sparking the imagination.