Yesterday I was surprised and sad to hear that Harry Harrison died on August 15th. I was surprised because these days when somebody well-known dies you learn about it really quickly, either in the normal media or from Facebook or Twitter updates. I’m sure that quite a few people I follow on Twitter and Facebook are fans of HH which makes it all the more surprising.
Harry Harrison wrote tons of short stories and about 50 novels. I’ve got about 25 of them and some of them are amongst my favourites. I think I have read the Deathworld series at least three times. I expect that I will read them again.
He is probably best-known for his Stainless Steel Rat books, deservedly so because they are great books.Perhaps Harrison isn’t always taken too seriously because people see the knockabout humour in those books and think that is all he does but you only have to read a book like The Turing Option that he co-wrote with Marvin Minsky to see that he should be taken seriously.
A favourite of mine is Rebel in Time, where a modern racist goes back in time to try and win the American Civil War for the South. His big idea was to take back plans for the Sten gun – a design so simple but effective that it could have been built with the facilities available at that time. This is a concept I still think about sometimes.
A shame that he has gone, and that his death didn’t get the attention he deserves, but the books live on.