Turn your back and walk away—And live to graft another day.
The sci-fi world has lost someone very special. Harry Harrison - one of my very favourite authors, creator of my personal favourite Sci-Fi hero of all time - James Bolivar DiGriz, aka Slippery Jim, aka the Stainless Steel Rat. I have read The Stainless Steel Rat series so many times I have had to replace my books twice. In fact, I just did another semi-annual reading just a couple of weeks ago. Harry Harrison was a true great - snarky and hilarious and able to throw in philosophy and social commentary almost without you even noticing, a master of satire.
I think from my first Stainless Steel Rat reading in high school Harry became the author that has influenced my reading life more than any other, causing me to search out other books and previously unexplored genres, expanding my reading world. Without him, I may never have discovered my love for other authors like Robert Heinlein, Douglas Adams,Connie Willis, John Wyndham, Arthur C. Clarke, Marget Atwood, Brian Aldiss, Ray Bradbury, Karen Miller, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, Madeleine L’Engle, Anne Mccaffrey and so many more. I only read that first story because a friend lent it to me - his favourite book. I wasn’t expecting to like it - I was a voracious reader, but this was so much different than the fiction I had read previously. I was hooked immediately and it made me want more. Soon I was seeking out more satire and sci-fi and then fantasy and hard sci-fi. He brought me new worlds and expanded my universe. He will be sorely missed.
How can ya not love a guy who opens a books like this -
“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 somber expression and heavy foot that they all have - and the same lack of humor. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable.
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.”
Thank you Harry for the laughs, the thoughtful insight and the worlds you opened up to me.