Harry Harrison has died. (News via Insty, of course.)
Ray Bradbury, the much more famous SF/F writer, died about ten weeks ago. But I’ve read much more Harrison than Bradbury. Prof. Reynolds mentions the (classic) Stainless Steel Rat stories, but the Deathworld and Bil the Galactic Hero series were also quite memorable.
However, I must caution that Harrison was not above being a hack. At least one of his books was so bad that I never finished it and can’t even say for sure which one it was. I think it was Planet of the Damned. But don’t hold me to it.
Anyway, Harrison knew it was terrible. The creator of “Slippery Jim” Bolivar DiGriz could not not have known. So I have wondered for decades what that was all about. I assume a deadline looming like a guillotine, enforced by a merciless hellhound with absolutely no literary discernment.
But for that reason, I can say with certainty that I’ve never read an author who’s demonstrated greater range than Harry Harrison.
Perhaps I’ll learn the cause of that abberation, on the Day beyond all days.
It’s unfair to have high expectations of an SF novel called Planet of the Damned, no matter how good the author is. But I don’t think I’ve ever read this guy! Well, rest in peace.
Much as enjoyed some of Harrison’s stuff in my youth, there are numerous others I’d recommend before him. Most especially Jack Vance, who I’ve hawked before. Mr. Vance will turn 96 in about two weeks.
No, you must read the Rat, a pure enjoyment of impossible feats of crookery all for the good of the whole of manking.
Imagine a crook stymied by an ancient lock, not because it is so complex, but because it is so big his tools do not fit it. Eventually he used a pocket knife.
True, true, you shame me.
The Rat was a thing of joy. A work of art. There was never a better character squatting on the edge of both light and dark.