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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A million words .... or so


“I think it takes about a million words to make a writer. I mean that you're going to throw away.” –  Jerry Pournelle
 
Born on this day in 1933, Pournelle is a science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, commenting wryly that he thought he was the first one nobody had ever heard of.

But, he was wrong about that.  This Korean War veteran and Ph.D. holder is well-known throughout the fiction and nonfiction writing worlds.  With a brilliant understanding of both technology and military strategy (often a focal point of his fictional books), he wrote one book on technology and strategy that is taught at U.S. military academies and the National War College.  His Sci-Fi thriller Footfall, was number one on the New York Times bestseller list.  Fallen Angels won the prestigious
 Prometheius Award, and the National Space Society gave him the Robert Heinlein Memorial Award for lifetime achievement.
Pournelle likes to set up complex background      
 situations and plots, leading the reader step by step towards what is usually not a very politically correct solution.  To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection,” he said.  “Storytellers like me and Anderson, Silverberg... we tell stories. People like them.  They want to know how it comes out, they want to know what the ending is.”
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His advice for new writers is pretty much cut and dried: “When you get to the point where they take you to lunch, let the editors suggest where to go.”


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