Thursday, August 16, 2012

Harry Harrison

Yesterday, the SF field lost another member of its old guard: Harry Harrison, SF author and SFWA Grandmaster, passed away. I never met Harrison, so I have no personal stories to tell of him, but he influenced aspects of my work, and I am saddened at his death.

When I was a teenager, like so many other SF readers I discovered and instantly became a huge fan of his Stainless Steel Rat stories.  I devoured the books and stories as soon as I could find them.  I loved the attitude, the humor, and the style Harrison brought to them.  I then read more of Harrison's work, watched and enjoyed Soylent Green, the film based on his novel Make Room! Make Room!, and generally came to assume, as one does of authors you've read heavily, that he would always be around, creating more stories and books.  2010's The Stainless Steel Rat Returns, with its new adventure for James Bolivar DiGriz, aka Slippery Jim, aka the Stainless Steel Rat, served to confirm that belief. 

It was, of course, a foolish feeling, one I knew as such when I paused to examine it, but I rarely did. 

When I was writing my second novel,  Slanted Jack, I focused quite a lot of the action on an old pal of Jon Moore's, the best con man Jon has ever known:  Slanted Jack.  Note the initials match Slippery Jim's.  Jack's real name was Jack Gridiz.  That I created Jack's name by moving around a few letters of the Stainless Steel Rat's real name is equally obvious.  Yeah, I was paying tribute to possibly the greatest SF con man--and certainly the one with the funniest adventures. 

For some time, I've harbored a fan-boy hope that I might one day meet Harrison and give him a copy of the book.  In my fantasy, he liked it.  Now, of course, that chance is gone. 

What remains, though, is his work and all that it has inspired.  With Harrison, that is a very great deal indeed. 


J. Griffin Barber said...

I did wonder about that...He will be missed.

Mark said...

Indeed he will.


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