R.I.P. Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow
Harry Harrison at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow

Science fiction writer Harry Harrison (photo Szymon Sokól) died yesterday.

Harry Harrison was born on March 12, 1925 in Stamford, Conncticut. He started his career as an Illustrator and science fiction was one of several genres in which he worked for years.

Harry Harrison started his career as a science fiction writer in 1951 but lived abroad for several years in various countries including Mexico, England, Denmark and Italy before returning to the U.S.A. then moving to Ireland. He spent the last years of his life in England.

In 1957, his story “The Stainless Steel Rat” started the long saga of Jim DiGriz the Stainless Steel Rat, which includes 12 novels. The last one is “The Stainless Steel Rat Returns“, published in 2010.

In 1960, Harry Harrison published his first novel, “Deathworld”, which started another cycle whose most recent novels were written with Russian writer Ant Skalandis and published only in Russian and Lithuanian.

In 1965, Harry Harrison published “Bill, the Galactic Hero”, a satirical antiwar story seen as a sort of answer to “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein. This novel was followed by several sequels in the following decades.

In 1966, Harry Harrison published what is perhaps his best novel, “Make Room! Make Room!”, which addressed the issue of overpopulation. In 1973 it was adapted into the movie “Soylent Green” but its plot has many differences from the novel and is even more extreme.

The influence of Harry Harrison in science fiction is not only due to those and many other novels but also by the many anthologies edited, often together with his colleague Brian Aldiss. Along with several other writers such as Frederik Pohl, Brian Aldiss and Sam Lundwall, Harrison founded SF World, an international association that aims to spread the every country’s science fiction in the whole world.

Harry Harrison was a supporter of language esperanto, present in several of his novels. He was a member of various organizations that promote esperanto in the world.

In 1954, he married Joan Merkler, who died in 2002. Together they had their son Todd and their daughter Moira.

With the death of Harry Harrison, science fiction loses another of its great masters, a writer capable of filling his stories with humor in its various forms but also of writing very dramatic stories.

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