Harry Harrison: Wikis


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Harry Harrison

At the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005
Born March 12, 1925 (1925-03-12) (age 85)
Stamford, Connecticut, United States
Occupation Fiction writer - short stories, novellas, novels, et cetera
Nationality American
Genres Science fiction
Spouse(s) Joan Merkler Harrison
(1930–2002) - end with her death
Children Moira Harrison, Todd Harrison
Official website
For the radio personality, see Harry Harrison (radio).

Harry Harrison (born March 12, 1925) is an American and Irish science fiction author best known for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973). He is also (with Brian Aldiss) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.



Before becoming an editor, Harrison started in the science fiction field as an illustrator, notably with EC Comics' two science fiction comic books, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science. He has used house names such as Wade Kaempfert and Philip St. John to edit magazines, and has published other fictions under the names Felix Boyd, Leslie Charteris, and Hank Dempsey (but see Personal Life below). Harrison also wrote for syndicated comic strips, creating the Rick Random character. Harrison is now much better known for his writing, particularly his humorous and satirical science fiction, such as the Stainless Steel Rat series and the novel Bill, the Galactic Hero (which satirises Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers).

During the 1950s and '60s, he was the main writer of the Flash Gordon newspaper strip. One of his Flash Gordon scripts was serialized in Comics Revue magazine. Harrison drew sketches to help the artist be more scientifically accurate, which the artist largely ignored.

Not all of Harrison's writing is comic, though. He has written many stories on serious themes, of which by far the best known is the novel about overpopulation and consumption of the world's resources Make Room! Make Room! which was used as a basis for the science fiction film Soylent Green (though the film changed the plot and theme).

Harrison for a time was closely identified with Brian Aldiss. The pair collaborated on a series of anthology projects. Harrison and Aldiss did much in the 1970s to raise the standards of criticism in the field.[citation needed]

In 1990 Harrison was professional Guest of Honour at ConFiction, the 48th World SF Convention, in The Hague, Netherlands, together with Joe Haldeman and Wolfgang Jeschke.

Harrison is a writer of fairly liberal worldview. Harrison's work often hinges around the contrast between the thinking man and the man of force, although the "Thinking Man" often needs ultimately to employ force himself.

Harrison was selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as the 2009 recipient of their Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.[1]

Personal life

Harrison was born Henry Maxwell Dempsey although he did not know this until he was 30, at which point he legally changed his name to Harry Max Harrison. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut, but has lived in many parts of the world including Mexico, England, Ireland, Denmark and Italy. He is an advocate of Esperanto (the language often appears in his novels, particularly in his Stainless Steel Rat and Deathworld series) and was formerly the honorary president of the Esperanto Association of Ireland, as well as holding memberships in other Esperanto organizations such as Esperanto-USA (formerly the Esperanto League for North America), of which he is an honorary member, and the Universala Esperanto-Asocio (World Esperanto Association), of whose Honorary Patrons' Committee he is a member. He served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II as a gunsight mechanic and gunnery instructor. He lives in the Republic of Ireland and maintains a flat in Brighton for visits to England.

Harrison married Joan (nee Merkler) in 1954 in New York, a marriage that lasted until her death of cancer in 2002. They have two children, Todd (b. 1955) and Moira (b. 1959), to whom he dedicated the book Make Room! Make Room!.




  • The Man from P.I.G. and The Man from R.O.B.O.T. (1974) These two linked novellas, featuring interstellar intelligence agents, were comedy-drama take-offs on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The first tells of an agent of the Porcine Interstellar Guard, who performs his missions with the help of several pigs. The second tells of Henry Venn, an agent for "Robot Obtrusion Battalion — Omega Three", who poses as an interplanetary robot salesman while searching for a missing Galactic Census official on a planet populated by paranoid colonists. The latter was originally published as a short story in Analog, July 1969.
  • Planet Story (1978), published as a large format book with colour illustrations by Jim Burns

Stand-alone novels

Tony Hawkin series

  • Montezuma's Revenge (1972)
  • Queen Victoria's Revenge (1974)

Bill, the Galactic Hero series

  1. Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965)
  2. Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Robot Slaves (1989)
  3. Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains (1990, with Robert Sheckley)
  4. Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Tasteless Pleasure (1991, with David Bischoff)
  5. Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Zombie Vampires (1991, with Jack C. Haldeman II)
  6. Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars (1991, with David Bischoff. vt. ...Planet of Hippies from Hell)
  7. Bill, the Galactic Hero: the Final Incoherent Adventure (1991, with David Harris)
  8. Bill, the Galactic Hero's Happy Holiday (short story in Galactic Dreams) (1994)

Brion Brandd series

  • Planet of the Damned (1962) (serialised as Sense of Obligation 1961) (vt Sense of Obligation (1967))
  • Planet of No Return (1981)

Deathworld series

On the planet Pyrrus, human colonists have fought a centuries-old war with the native life forms. These life forms adapt to human tactics and technology, evolving new species so rapidly that natives returning from even brief trips off planet must be carried in protective armor canisters from their ship to the safe buildings, where they will learn of the latest deadly threats.

The first three stories were initially published as serials in Analog Magazine under the names given below.

  1. Deathworld (1960) (serialised 1960 as Deathworld)
  2. Deathworld 2 (1964) (vt, The Ethical Engineer, 1964) (serialised as The Ethical Engineer)
  3. Deathworld 3 (1968) (serialised 1968 as The Horse Barbarians)

The following four novels were only published in Russian:

4. Return to Deathworld (1998) (with Ant Skalandis)
5. Deathworld vs. Filibusters (1998) (with Ant Skalandis)
6. The Creatures from Hell (1999) (with Ant Skalandis)
7. Deathworld 7 (2004) (with Mikhail Ahmanov)
  • The Deathworld Trilogy (1974, omnibus of Deathworld, Deathworld 2 & Deathworld 3) (vt. The Deathworld Omnibus, 1999) (the BenBella [2005] edition adds the short story `The Mothballed Spaceship' from Astounding: The John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology (1973))

To the Stars trilogy

  • Homeworld (1980)
  • Wheelworld (1981)
  • Starworld (1981)
  • To the Stars (1991) - omnibus collection of the three novels

The Stainless Steel Rat series

Listed according to internal chronology.

  1. A Stainless Steel Rat is Born (1985)
  2. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted (1987)
  3. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues (1994)
  4. The Stainless Steel Rat (1961)
  5. The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge (1970)
  6. The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World (1972)
  7. The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You (1978)
  8. The Stainless Steel Rat for President (1982)
  9. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell (1996)
  10. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus (1999)
  11. The Stainless Steel Rat Returns (2010) (due) (first 3 chapters serialised on the Harry Harrison News Blog site, July 2009: harryharrison.wordpress.com)
  • You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat: An Interactive Game Book 1988 - choose your own adventure style
  • The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat (1978) - omnibus collection of The Stainless Steel Rat, The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge and The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World
  • A Stainless Steel Trio (2002) - omnibus collection of A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted and The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues
Stainless Steel Rat short stories
  • "The Return of the Stainless Steel Rat" (1981)
  • "The Fourth Law of Robotics" (1989)
  • "The Golden Years of the Stainless Steel Rat" (1992, published in Stainless Steel Visions)

Eden series

The Hammer and the Cross series

In collaboration with "John Holm", a pseudonym of Tom Shippey.

Stars and Stripes trilogy

  • Stars and Stripes Forever (1998)
  • Stars and Stripes in Peril (2000)
  • Stars and Stripes Triumphant (2002)

Short story collections

See List of Harry Harrison Short Stories


  • Rick Random
  • Flash Gordon (1958–1964)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat was adapted into a comic strip in the magazine 2000 AD by Kelvin Gosnell.
  • Harry Harrison's Bill, The Galactic Hero Comics; 3 issues

Non-Fiction Books

  • Great Balls of Fire: A History of Sex in Science Fiction Illustration (1977)
  • Mechanismo (1977)
  • Spacecraft in Fact and Fiction (1979)

Anthologies (as editor)

  • John W. Campbell: Collected Editorials from Analog (1966)
  • Nebula Award Stories No. 2 (1967) (with Brian Aldiss) (vt, Nebula Award Stories 1967)
  • Apeman, Spaceman (1968) (with Leon Stover)
  • Best SF: 1967 (1968) (vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Farewell Fantastic Venus (1968) (abr as vt, All About Venus, 1968)
  • SF: Author's Choice (1968) (vt, A Backdrop of Stars)
  • Best SF: 1968 (1969) (rev vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 2) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Blast Off: SF for Boys (1969)
  • Four for the Future (1969)
  • Worlds of Wonder (1969)
  • Best SF: 1969 (1970) (vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 3) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Nova 1 (1970) (rev edition 1976, UK hc)
  • SF: Author's Choice 2 (1970)
  • The Year 2000 (1970)
  • Best SF: 1970 (1971) (vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 4) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • The Light Fantastic (1971)
  • SF: Author's Choice 3 (1971)
  • The Astounding-Analog Reader, Volume One (1972) (with Brian Aldiss) (later split into two paperbacks: The Astounding-Analog Reader, Book 1 & The Astounding-Analog Reader, Book 2)
  • Ahead of Time (1972)
  • Best SF: 1971 (1972) (vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 5) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Nova 2 (1972)
  • The Astounding-Analog Reader, Volume Two (1973) (with Brian Aldiss) (only one edition; NOT the same book as The Astounding-Analog Reader, Book 2 above)
  • Astounding: The John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology (1973) (vt, The John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology)
  • Best SF: 1972 (1973) (vt, The Year's Best S.F. 1972) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Nova 3 (1973) (vt, The Outdated Man)
  • A Science Fiction Reader (1973) (with Carol Pugner)
  • Best SF: 1973 (1974) (abr vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 7) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Nova 4 (1974)
  • SF: Author's Choice 4 (1974)
  • Best SF: 1974 (1975) (abr vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 8) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Decade: The 1940s (1975) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Hell's Cartographers: Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers (1975) (with Brian Aldiss) (memoirs by SF writers)
  • Science Fiction Novellas (1975) (with Willis E. McNelly)
  • Best SF: 1975, The Ninth Annual (1976) (vt, The Year's Best Science Fiction No. 9) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Decade: The 1950s (1976) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • Decade: The 1960s (1977) (with Brian Aldiss)
  • There Won't Be War (1991) (with Bruce McAllister)


  1. ^ Harry Harrison named SFWA Grand Master

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Each of us has only this one brief experience with the bright light of consciousness in that endless dark night of eternity and must make the most of it. Doing this means we must respect the existence of everyone else and the most criminal act imaginable is the terminating of one of these conscious existences.

Harry Harrison is the pen name of Henry Maxwell Dempsey (born 12 March 1925), an American science fiction author best known for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973).



Deathworld (1960)

  • With a mental effort, he grabbed hold of his thoughts and braked them to a stop. There was something new here, factors he hadn't counted on. He kept reassuring himself there was an explanation for everything, once you had your facts straight.
    • p. 85
  • The compartment was getting crowded as other Pyrrans pushed in. Kerk, almost to the door, turned back to face Jason. ¶ "I'll tell you what's wrong with armistice," he said. "It's a coward's way out, that's what it is. It's all right for you to suggest it, you're from off-world and don't know any better. But do you honestly think I could entertain such a defeatist notion for one instant? When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for all of us here. We don't mind fighting, and we know how to do it. We know that if this war was over we could build a better world here. At the same time, if we have the choice of continued war or a cowardly peace—we vote for war. This war will only be over when the enemy is utterly destroyed!" ¶ The listening Pyrrans murmured in agreement, and Jason had to shout to be heard above them. "That's really wonderful. I bet you even think it's original. But don't you hear all that cheering offstage? Those are the spirits of every saber-rattling sonofabitch that ever plugged for noble war. They even recognize the old slogan. We're on the side of light, and the enemy is a creature of darkness. And it doesn't matter a damn if the other side is saying the same thing. You've still got the same old words that have been killing people since the birth of the human race. A 'cowardly peace,' that's a good one. Peace means not being at war, not fighting. How can you have a cowardly not-fighting. What are you trying to hide with this semantic confusion? Your real reasons? I can't blame you for being ashamed of them—I would be. Why don't you just come out and say you are keeping the war going because you enjoy killing? Seeing things die makes you and your murderers happy, and you want to make them happier still!"
    • p. 112
  • "What about it, Meta?" he snapped. "No doubts? Do you think that destruction is the only way to end this war?"¶ "I don't know," she said. "I can't be sure. For the first time in my life I find myself with more than one answer to the same question." ¶ "Congratulations," he said. "It's a sign of growing up."
    • p. 113
  • Just because you know a thing is true in theory, doesn't make it true in fact. The barbaric religions of primitive worlds hold not a germ of scientific fact, though they claim to explain all. Yet if one of these savages has all the logical ground for his beliefs taken away—he doesn't stop believing. He then calls his mistaken beliefs 'faith' because he knows they are right. And he knows they are right because he has faith. This is an unbreakable circle of false logic that can't be touched. In reality, it is plain mental inertia. A case of thinking 'what always was' will also 'always be.' And not wanting to blast the thinking patterns out of the old rut.
    • p. 151
  • The crossbows twanged like harps of death.
    • p. 154

The Stainless Steel Rat

  • When the office door opened suddenly I knew the game was up. It had been a money-maker — but it was all over. As the cop walked in I sat back in the chair and put on a happy grin. He had the same sombre expression and heavy foot that they all have — and the same lack of humour. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable.
    "James Bolivar diGriz I arrest you on the charge—"
    I was waiting for the word charge, I thought it made a nice touch that way. As he said it I pressed the button that set off the charge of black powder in the ceiling, the crossbeam buckled and the three-ton safe dropped through right on the top of the cop's head. He squashed very nicely, thank you. The cloud of plaster dust settled and all I could see of him was one hand, slightly crumpled. It twitched a bit and the index finger pointed at me accusingly. His voice was a little muffled by the safe and sounded a bit annoyed. In fact he repeated himself a bit.
    "On the charge of illegal entry, theft, forgery—"
    He ran on like that for quite a while, it was an impressive list but I had heard it all before. I didn't let it interfere with my stuffing all the money from the desk drawers into my suitcase. The list ended with a new charge and I would swear on a stack of thousand credit notes that high that there was a hurt tone in his voice.
    "In addition the charge of assaulting a police robot will be added to your record."
  • You're not a homicidal, I checked that on your record before I came out after you. That is why I know you will join the Corps and get a great deal of pleasure out of going after the other kind of criminal who is sick, not just socially protesting. The man who can kill and enjoy it.
    • Inskipp the Uncatchable, recruiting Jim diGriz into the Special Corps, in "The Stainless Steel Rat" in Astounding magazine (August 1957)
  • The human race is gregarious, I knew that even though I had been denying it for years.
    I was going to keep on doing the loneliest job in the universe — only I wasn't going to be doing it alone.
    • Jim diGriz, in "The Stainless Steel Rat" in Astounding magazine (August 1957)
  • Cold-blooded killing is just not my thing. I've killed in self-defence, I'll not deny that, but I still maintain an exaggerated respect for life in all forms. Now that we know that the only thing on the other side of the sky is more sky, the idea of an afterlife has finally been slid into the history books alongside the rest of the quaint and forgotten religions. With heaven and hell gone we are faced with the necessity of making a heaven or hell right here. What with societies and metatechnology and allied disciplines we have come a long way and life on the civilised worlds is better than it was during the black days of superstition. But with the improving of here and now comes the stark realisation that here and now is all we have. Each of us has only this one brief experience with the bright light of consciousness in that endless dark night of eternity and must make the most of it. Doing this means we must respect the existence of everyone else and the most criminal act imaginable is the terminating of one of these conscious existences.
    • The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge (1970)
  • We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment.
    • A Stainless Steel Rat is Born (1985)


  • The principles we live by, in business and in social life, are the most important part of happiness.
    • This is the radio personality Harry Harrison (born 20 September 1930), quoted in Think Vol. 21, No. 1 (January 1955), and The Book of Positive Quotations (2007) edited by John Cook, Steve Deger, and Leslie Ann Gibson

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