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Sci-Fi

Sci-fi Author Harry Harrison Dies at 87 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
tmjva writes "Per BBC's Entertainment page, author Harry Harrison died today at the age of 87. His body of work included Make Room! Make Room!, (the inspiration for Soylent Green), The Stainless Steel Rat, and Bill the Galactic Hero. From the article: 'Harrison's first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960, while the first book in the Stainless Steel Rat series was published a year later. The last of the series was published just two years ago in 2010 and the books are widely regarded as producing one of science fiction's great anti-heroes, Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat. The author also parodied the sci-fi genre in his seven Bill the Galactic Hero books, which were first seen in 1965. He saw his work as anti-war and anti-militaristic.'"
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Sci-fi Author Harry Harrison Dies at 87

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  • Sad (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdigriz (676802) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:20PM (#41001889)
    The guy was talented. The Stainless Steel Rat series was quite funny.
  • Odd coincidence that I just re-read his Deathworld books recently. Apparently they are old enough that they are public domain these days.

    A fond farewell.

    • Re:Deathworld (Score:5, Informative)

      by jockm (233372) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:36PM (#41002113) Homepage

      Not quite. Deathworld is in the public domain because it copyrighted under the pre 1976 copyright law, and was (apparently) never renewed. Pre-1976 books are minefield to figure out if they are in the public domain or not.

      In order to be sure they are in the public domain, in the US, you need to do careful research, or the book has to have been copyrighted in 1923 or before. The UK and the rest of the world have different laws, so don't assume they carry over.

      Oh and Peter Pan will likely never be in the public domain...

      • by Toe, The (545098)

        OK, well, fwiw it appears in Project Gutenberg.

      • by dr_dank (472072)

        Oh and Peter Pan will likely never be in the public domain...

        On Barrie's death, Great Ormand Street Hospital (a London childrens hospital) was given the copyright in perpetuity.

        • by drkim (1559875)

          ...On Barrie's death, Great Ormand Street Hospital (a London childrens hospital) was given the copyright in perpetuity.

          Can an IP have a perpetual copyright in the US? Or is it just that the US will respect the UKs perpetual copyright?

          • Can an IP have a perpetual copyright in the US?

            Wrong question.

            You should be asking "can IP copyrighted after Steamboat Willy have other than perpetual copyright in the US?"

          • by jockm (233372)

            I was referring to the UK law (and should have been more clear) as an object lesson that you cannot assume that what is true in the US holds true for the rest of the world...

        • Oh and Peter Pan will likely never be in the public domain...

          So he'll stay forever in his protected Copyrightland, fighting evil pirates and getting royalties to live for all eternity? Well, he surely wished for it hard enough.

  • Thank you, Harry, I truly enjoyed the books.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      He probably would have appreciated your thank you a hell of a lot more last week.

      • He probably would have appreciated your thank you a hell of a lot more last week.

        [golf clap]

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        no difference, this week, last week, what he probably did appreciate is my business, since I bought some of his books and that was way back.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        If by some chance I would have thanked him last week and then he ended up dead this week, I'd be known as the polite yet deadly, nobody would want me to thank them ever again.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Oh, and I just came up with 4 different business plans based on that ability, to thank somebody just before they kick the bucket. A couple of the plans are straight forward, and 2 involve people paying to be rude to them.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:26PM (#41001971) Journal
    The adventures of Jim di Griz were as formative in my teenage years as any other book I could name. I love the idea that in the future, when poverty and war was more or less eliminated and even murderers could be (mostly) rehabilitated, the government itself would allow a few of the brightest criminal minds to slip through the cracks and cause a little chaos (and occasionally stop bigger chaos from leaking off various planets.) The world was mildly dystopian, but still a much more tongue in cheek vision of the future than it was outright depressing. Rest in peace, Harry Harrison.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I first read "The Stainless Steel Rat" in junior high school via the Geek Underground. I call it that because that's the only explanation for the circumstances by which I had received the book.
      The day I got the book, the interior of the school bus was impossibly dark, or so I thought at the time; I had relocated a from sunny So Cal a year and half ago, and that morning was a typical mid-winter morning in Anchorage, so the sun wouldn't be up for another several hours. The frosty, subterranean dark was punct

  • by jrmcc (703725) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:33PM (#41002067)
    I think you know what THEY'RE made of...
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      I think you know what THEY'RE made of...

      Seaweed, probably. Soya and lentils being too expensive.

    • by jpkunst (612360)
      Note that the "Soylent Green is people" meme is from the film, not the book. In the book there is no cannibalism angle at all.
  • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish DOT info AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:47PM (#41002263)

    "Slippery Jim" diGriz and Bill, the Galactic Hero. I've worn out 2 or 3 copies of both series over the years.

    Oddly enough, just a couple of days ago, I just happened to run across a reprint of A Trans-Atlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! which I bought and read on impulse, having seen it years and years ago but never having actually cracked the cover. A fun read, if you've not not already had the pleasure.

    Thanks, Harry. I don't think I'll ever tire of your work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I second the recommendation of A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! The book is most memorable for the alternate history: a semi-steampunk world where the US revolutionary war failed, and North America is still part of the British Empire. The "Queen Elizabeth" was a luxury airplane that ran on finely powdered coal. The main character is a descendant of the despised traitor George Washington, and wants to erase that stain on his family honour.

      By the way its original title was Tunnel through the Deeps.

      http://en [wikipedia.org]

    • by M1FCJ (586251)

      Don't forget Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers... That was a fun book making fun of everything under the sun!

  • His name was one of the first I learned to recognize as a young beginner sci-fi-aficionado (ohh, maybe 10 years old?). I really liked the Steel Rat books, both others as well.

    Here is a comment by John Scalzi [scalzi.com] (who is actually surprisingly similiar in style - I recommend).

  • Athiest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kiyyik (954108) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @05:52PM (#41002345)
    I first read his Stainless Steel Rat books in a small town in the bible belt, whre my stepfather was a minister. His were the first books I ever encountered that openly made the case for athiesm. It was so different form everything else I'd run into-of course I had head of it, but to come right out and openly advocate it in the books (and a bit after the story proper, IIRC) was definitely a bit of a first. Tonight, I'm heading out to a sushi joint with the other members of my Skeptic/Freethinkers' singles group, and I'll raise a toast to Slippery Jim. For me, he was step one on a long, long journey, and I am grateful.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      no, no, no. . . it's "el rato di ferro-chromo est morte"

  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:02PM (#41002451)

    RIP Harry. As with many others I spent many a night wearing out old paperbacks with his name on the binder.

    One of the set of novels that has not been mentioned is his Edan series. A very good series that Harry put some serious effort into. Not as much 'fun' as some of his other work but very good sci-fi.

  • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:13PM (#41002603) Homepage

    Harry Harrison wrote quite a bit of stuff during the days when copyright actually could expire.

    http://www.feedbooks.com/books/search?query=harry+harrison [feedbooks.com]

    Noteworthy: "The Misplaced Battleship" (the first Stainless Steel Rat story) Deathworld (the first Deathworld novel)

    It would be cool to see the Stainless Steel Rat adventures turned into movies. I'd love to see what a .75 calibre recoilless pistol would look like as a prop.

    steveha

    • I'd love to see what a .75 calibre recoilless pistol would look like as a prop.

      Here's one idea. [cold-moon.com] Although I will admit, Jim DiGriz's probably doesn't look so...brutal.

  • RIP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VynlSol (1687610) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:16PM (#41002627)
    Mi gutted sciante ke vi estas ne en la mondo ie, pensante. Ripozi en paco!
  • by VAXcat (674775) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:18PM (#41002651)
    He wore the most screamingly funny science fiction book ever written - "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers". A parody of Doc Smith's books. It's worth te the trouble to find.
    • Agreed, it's one of the jewels of my book collection and stands just as well on it's own merits as it does as a parody.

      If I remember correctly the stainless steel rat was also serialised in the 2000AD comics and then subsequently published as a collection. Could be worth tracking this down or pushing for a reprint to help introduce a new generation to some classic,influential and seminal works.

  • As our bookshelves can attest, my spouse and I have been fans of Mr. Harrison's writing for decades now. He was a versatile writer who excelled at creating engaging and entertaining characters. We were so excited to find "The Stainless Steel Rat Returns" a couple of years ago, after thinking he had retired the series...

    Rest in peace, good sir, and may the stars watch over you.

  • by stainlesssteelpat (905359) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:26PM (#41002749)
    Harry, i grew up with you. You changed my childhood. I wouldn't be the man I am without you. Thanks a bunch! Slippery Jim
  • Loved the Stainless Steel Rat. It influenced my life in 3 key ways. Jim di Griz's mastery of judo inspired me to earn a green belt and stand up successfully to the bullies in my junior high school. And if it weren't for you I wouldn't have known Esperanto existed. Never learned much of that, but it kicked off a life-long love for languages that has led to mastery of five others. Lastly, it began a life-long quest for a real-life glass of Syrian Panther Sweat.

  • Sadly this is the only Harry Harrison novel I've read, but I still remember it vividly. It's one of the better alien invasion stories with a thoughtful twist at the end. Also, I vividly remember some of the illustrations - creepy aliens!
  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:52PM (#41003127) Homepage
    Actually Bill the Galactic Hero seemed more like a parody of one book specifically, Starship Troopers. Did a good job of skewering Heinlein I thought.
    • by rbrander (73222)

      To be a parody of Starship Troopers, it would have to follow the plot, have equivalent characters, be a mirror to some extent. There's none of that.

      Starship Troopers unabashedly glorifies military service - given that it is entirely voluntary at all times except mid-combat. Bill, with a totally different plot and characters, tells a story where it is not voluntary even if the teenage volunteer falls for a tricky sales job; is anything but glorious when, as usual, based on lies and blunders. It's up to t

    • Nope. Pure projection of your own thoughts and desires, right there. The novel is actually a retelling of an obscure Czech novel about service in the Austro-Hungarian Empire's army in World War I.
      • Since when has The Good Soldier Schweik(*) been obscure?

        (Don't even want to try spelling it correctly - fuck slashcode and it's unicode handling).

      • by nomadic (141991)
        http://www.dekkerdreyer.com/blog/interview-harry-harrison/ [dekkerdreyer.com]

        Harrison himself states he took pot shots at Heinlein in Bill the Galactic Hero, and Heinlein never talked to him again.
        • by rbrander (73222)

          Thank you all - fascinating, I'll have to re-read "Bill" to spot those "potshots". And now I have to find an obscure Czech novel, too.

          But none of that makes it a "parody" which was my only point - I quite agree that it was a critical response to ST (among many, MANY other military-glorifying SF novels - it's a whole genre).

  • Is still working to save humanity. R.I.P. and good luck?
  • No mention of The Hammer and the Cross [wikipedia.org]?
  • Loved the Stainless Steel Rat...but I also really enjoyed his more serious book "Homeworld". An interesting look at a big brother society... He was one of the better Sci-Fi authors. He will be missed.
  • Thinking about the Grey Men and the training methods still makes me uneasy.
  • Very sad to hear this news. He was too one of the authors I most read during my teens. It is clearly time to crack open the yellowing pages of my old paperbacks and give the SSR and Deathworld novels are re-read - possibly the last before they fall apart. Then probably off to Amazon to replace with whatever's available in hard cover. For some reason I would rather pay $50 for hard cover copy of the 'old classics' than $2.50 for the ebook edition.

  • Let's not forget the 'Hammer and the Cross' and the 'Stars and Stripes' series. Both well researched and great alternate history trilogies. Even if he does indulge in a bit of Britt bashing, Stars and Stripes is still one of my favorite Civil War alternate history novels, and as I recall HH was regarded as an authority on that era too.

  • I have a large collection of mostly translated SF books. Harry Harrison is one of those writers that regularly got translated into Dutch, so I had to run into him sooner or later in the beginning of the seventies, I think it was Wheelworld. Most of his work is nice to read. I was impressed by 'One Step from Earth'. He also had a feel for the nonsensical and burlesque, and this combined with SF made him at least original. However, his way of writing doesn't seem to be consistent across his books, and while
    • by chthon (580889)

      (Reformatting for better readability)

      I have a large collection of mostly translated SF books. Harry Harrison is one of those writers that regularly got translated into Dutch, so I had to run into him sooner or later in the beginning of the seventies, I think it was Wheelworld.

      Most of his work is nice to read. I was impressed by 'One Step from Earth'.

      He also had a feel for the nonsensical and burlesque, and this combined with SF made him at least original. However, his way of writing doesn't seem to be

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