Sci-fi author Harry Harrison dies

Harry Harrison

American science fiction author Harry Harrison, who also created the Stainless Steel Rat comic space opera series, has died aged 87.

His 1966 dystopian novel Make Room! Make Room! also inspired 1973 film Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston.

Harrison died in the early hours of Wednesday, 15 August.

"His passing leaves a huge gap in the universe, but thankfully he didn't leave us empty-handed," said friend and fellow author Michael Carroll.

"Dozens of novels and over a hundred short stories are as fine a legacy as we could hope for," continued Caroll, who also runs Harrison's website.

He told the BBC that Harrison became a "friend, inspiration and mentor", and that his novels were "a gem, a rich conglomeration of intelligence and adventure that so few other writers have been able to match."

Harrison's first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960, while the first book in the Stainless Steel Rat series was published a year later.

The last of the series was published just two years ago in 2010 and the books are widely regarded as producing one of science fiction's great anti-heroes, Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat.

The author also parodied the sci-fi genre in his seven Bill the Galactic Hero books, which were first seen in 1965. He saw his work as anti-war and anti-militaristic.

Illustrations

When Hollywood turned Make Room! Make Room! into Soylent Green, Harrison said the film "at times bore a faint resemblance to the book".

Directed by Richard Fleischer, it took the book's central idea of a near-future world - in the year 2000 - where massive overpopulation had created a critical food shortage in New York, and a food substitute was needed instead.

Harrison was an advocate of the international language Esperanto, which appeared in several of his books after he learned it during service in World War II.

He was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1925 but also lived in Mexico, England, Ireland, Italy and Denmark.

He studied art at Hunter College in New York in the 1940s and ran a studio selling illustrations to comics and science fiction magazines before turning to writing.

Harrison was an extremely popular figure in the science fiction world, renowned for being amiable, outspoken and amusing, and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

He worked alongside British writer Brian Aldiss throughout his career. They published several journals and anthologies of short stories together.

One of Harrison's last projects was to write his autobiography.

The writer married wife Joan in 1954 in New York and they had two children, Todd and Moira, who survive him.

Joan died from cancer in 2002, which led to the author's full-time return to Britain.

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