RIP Harry Harrison

American science fiction author Harry Harrison, who also created the Stainless Steel Rat comic space opera series, has died aged 87.

Official website.

I remember coming across a volume of his Bill the Intergalactic Hero series when I was super young at an off-beat bookstore on vacation with my parents once. The book utterly scandalized me, as I had just been expecting a run-of-the-mill space opera adventure and was probably a bit too young to pick up on satire. Oh boy. Good times :)

Memory time.

There was a hotel in Tulsa called the Camelot, medieval-themed and right off I-44. I was there at a sci-fi comics convention in 1982 or 1983 and Mr. Harrison was one of the guests at the con.

While I didn’t attend his panel, I did see him down by the pool level, where he was enthusiastically yanking on the hilt of the sword in the stone that the hotel had as part of its theme. I always liked him after that. (Alan Dean Foster was a bit of a stiff).

Empire of the East, the Books Of Swords, The Stainless Steel Rat, man I read everything the guy wrote in the 80s. I still fondly recall the surreal post-apoc world of Empire of the East. Orcus and Draffut FTW.

Empire of the East and the Books of Swords was Saberhagen, I’m afraid.

I did like the early Stainless Steel Rat stories, too.

Sadly, the Camelot doesn’t exist any more either. They tore it down a decade ago or so.

Rest in Peace, Harry. You brought me many good times.

Harrison is best known for his SF crime series the Stainless Steel Rat, featuring con man and thief Slippery Jim diGriz. Other important works include his novel of overpopulation Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis of famous SF film Soylent Green (1973); the Deathworld series; the Eden series; and A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! (1972).

Henry Maxwell Dempsey was born March 12, 1925 in Stamford CT; his father changed his last name to Harrison soon after the birth. Harrison attended art schools in New York, and worked as a commercial artist before turning to fiction, selling first story “Rock Diver” in 1951. He went on to become an astonishingly prolific author and editor, producing scores of novels, stories, and anthologies over the next six decades.

Harrison helped shape the SF field in the ’60s and ’70s through his collaborations with Brian Aldiss, including SF criticism magazine SF Horizons, which ran for two issues in 1965-65, and their influential Best SF anthology series, which ran from 1968-1975.

Harrison was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2004, and received the SFWA Grand Master Award in 2009. He was predeceased by wife Joan Merkler in 2002 (married 1954) and is survived by their two children.

— Alan

Wait, what? You have invalidated my childhood, sir!

Bowb. :( RIP, Harry.

I was there! Had to be '82, '83 was downtown. Met Larry Niven, though seeing him bouncing up and down on a bed while sitting cross-legged in the con suite was a bit disturbing. Met James Hogan (I’d just finished his Giants books). Avoided the Killer players as much as possible. Played Recon and Call of Cthulhu for the first time, managed to stay awake over 60 hours).

I don’t remember Harrison specifically but it seemed like there were so many big name authors and game makers that there was no way to take it all in.

(I want to be 13 again).

Of his more recent stuff, I enjoyed his Hammer and the Cross series except for the ending (which got a bit too preachy for my taste), although the SSR will always be the character he is associated most closely to.

I read a ton of Bill and SSR in my teens. Great stuff!

As much as I love the SSR series my favorite of his work will always be the Deathworld trilogy.

Couldn’t have said it any better.

Now I want to re-read the Bill books. Would be a fitting tribute, I think.

Oh heck, how could I forget the book that traumatized me as a kid. The Plague from Space.

As an adult it’s a fun read, especially the end which gets a bit ridiculous. But read I it at, what, 9 years old? I had nightmares about being sick and people burning sparrows with flamethrowers outside my house.

Now I remember, he wrote Deathworld, which was the first book I read that wasn’t a children’s book. He started my life of reading, in other words. I also see there are four more Deathworld books but not in English, I am disappoint.

Harry Harrison is/was one of my favourite SF authors. The Stainless Steel Rat and Deathworld were wonderful.

Starsmashers of the Galaxy Rangers stands out in my mind as a great silly read.

Interesting. But I see they were apparently written entirely by the Russian collaborator, so you may not be missing much.



I only read his SSR series, but sure loved it as a kid. As sad as I am to hear this news, I’m also excited to be reminded of him. It’s an opportunity to dig up his other works.