Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Harry Harrison is dead!

 I have always considered The Stainless Steel Rat as the book that moved me from kiddy fair to 'grown-up' books when I read it 10 years old. It was a revelation to me in its witty approach and amoral universe. To Asimov, Bradbury, Moorcock, Dick and beyond, it all started with Slippery Jim Di Griz.

The voice of Harrison's fiction - in particular his more comical output - and the tight conceptual frameworks that he works within - like in Deathword or The Captive Universe - have been huge influences on my own writing. Panoptica definitely reflects that same snide, uncommitted satirical voice that's inclined to believe that everyone's an idiot.

A couple of years afterwards I wrote a letter to 2000AD (my one and only time) suggesting they could adapt classic sci fi novels, and suggesting The Stainless Steel Rat. Six or eight months later, guess what? I've never been able to find out if there was a connection between my letter and this adaptation (let's face it, probably not), but I flatter myself that I had a small hand in this.

I had the great good fortune to meet the great man at a party for (IIRC) Gollancz sometime at the end of the 90s, where I was intorduced by (name drop name drop!) Kim Newman. I burbled about the huge influence he had on me and the role he played in my development as a reader and writer. He was kind enough to listen benevolently, chat amiable and then wish me well.

He left some wonderful, timeless books and had a good long life, so I suppose we shouldn't be too sad. We only get one life and it's up to us to use it for the bast. Harry Harrison did that. I'll be raising a glass to him tonight.


  1. Typo alert : I thought you'd like to correct 'Slipper' to 'Slippery'

  2. 'The Stainless Steel Rat Retires and Enjoys a Quiet Evening In'

    Thanks for the spot! This is the new crowd-sourcing approach to accuracy.


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