I read "The Mercenary" my sophomore year of high school and "Lucifer's Hammer" and "The Mote in God's Eye" soon after. He along with Robert Heinlein were fundamental in forming my world view, my view on what it means to be a man (in the generic human sense) and my views on politics. They helped me articulate ideas that had been building in my head for quite a while at that point and I think made me a better person through their writings.
Jerry Pournelle passed today. Normally it would be the thing to do to offer a prayer, but I am going to instead offer The Line Marine March as it appears in his Falkenberg's Legion Series.
We've left blood in the dirt of twenty-five worlds,
We've built roads on a dozen more,
And all that we have at the end of our hitch
Buys a night with a second-class whore.
The Senate decrees, the Grand Admiral calls,
The orders come down from on high.
It's 'On Full Kits' and 'Sound Board Ships,'
We're sending you where you can die."
"The lands that we take, the Senate gives back,
Rather more often than not,
But the more that are killed, the less share the loot,
And we won't be back to this spot.
We'll break the hearts of your women and girls,
We may break your arse, as well,
Then the Line Marines with their banners unfurled
Will follow those banners to hell.
We know the devil, his pomps, and his works,
Ah, yes! We know them well!
When you've served out your hitch in the Line Marines,
You can bugger the Senate of Hell!"
"Then we'll drink with our comrades and throw down our packs,
We'll rest ten years on the flat of our backs,
Then it's 'On Full Kits' and out of your racks,
You must build a new road through Hell!
The Fleet is our country, we sleep with a rifle,
No man ever begot a son on his rifle,
They pay us in gin and curse when we sin,
There's not one that can stand us unless we're downwind,
We're shot when we lose and turned out when we win,
But we bury our comrades wherever they fall,
And there's none that can face us, though we've nothing at all."
I previously mentioned The Line Marine March and the trouble it got me in in school, but I made my point at the time. I also at various times had the pleasure of corresponding with Dr. Pournelle. He was always gracious with me despite being far smarter and far more accomplished. Again, R.I.P.