Harry Harrison

1925 -

American writer

Harry Harrison's rich body of work ranges from the hardest of hard-science fiction adventure novels to merciless spoofs of the genre's conventions and politics.

Harrison began his career as a commercial artist in the mid-1940s, working in comics as an illustrator and writer and supplying illustrations to genre magazines such as Galaxy Science Fiction. Influenced by his fellow members of the Hydra Club, a New York group of science fiction professionals, he soon became interested in writing, and sold his first story, "Rock Diver," in 1951. His short fiction was published regularly from then on.

In 1957, Harrison sold his first story to Astounding Science Fiction, beginning a long and close relationship with that magazine and its editor, John W. Campbell, Jr. That tale, a fast-moving adventure with a broad leavening of humor, was his first of many in a similar style to feature the interstellar-criminal-turned-cop Slippery Jim DiGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat.

Harrison's first published novel, Deathworld, kicked off a series describing the colonization of a planet crammed with hostile life, and established him as a vigorous writer of intelligent action adventures. A third series, featuring Bill the Galactic Hero, is a sharp extended lampoon of story elements from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and even Harrison himself.

Later novels treaded more serious ground, including Make Room! Make Room! , an impassioned novel of overpopulation, gravely told and well-formed. It was the basis of the film Soylent Green (1973), and though much of the novel's substance was lost in the transition, the film nevertheless won the 1973 Nebula for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Harrison's later works include the To the Stars (begun in 1981) series and the excellent Eden series — West of Eden (1984), Winter in Eden (1986) and Return to Eden (1988) — an ambitiously conceived alternate world sequence based on the assumption that the dinosaurs did not suffer extinction and, in the due course of time, have evolved into saurians skilled at biotechnology. Their encounter with a savage humanity, and the irreconcilable differences between two intelligent, warring species, is dramatically gripping.

Selected Bibliography:
The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat (1977)
The Deathworld Trilogy (1974)
Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965)
War with the Robots (1962)
One Step From Earth (1970)
Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers (1973)
Captive Universe (1969),
Tunnel through the Deeps (1972)
Skyfall (1976)
Invasion: Earth (1982)
Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
Homeworld (1980)
Wheelworld (1981)
Starworld (1981)
To the Stars (1981)
West of Eden (1984)
Winter in Eden (1986)
Return to Eden (1988)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright © John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.