Bill was a peaceful farm boy until he was lured by the martial music of a passing recruitment sergeant, drugged, and made to enlist in the Empire Space Corps. His basic training is sheer hell, but somehow he manages to stay alive and achieve the rank of Fusetender 6th Class in the process. En route to an engagement with the lizard-like Chingers, Bill’s spaceship is involved in a supreme contest and by accident Bill is the man who saves the ship and wins the day. A grateful Galaxy awards him its highest accolade, the Purple Dart, to be presented by the Emperor himself on the fabulous aluminium-covered capital planet, Helior. And then his adventures really start to take off in the most bizarre and nastily surprising ways…
He’s the perfect starship trooper: big, strong, and not too bright. He’s the perfect hero: willing to do almost anything to save his neck (it’s one of the body parts that’s still his own.) Tsuris, the Mystery Plane, has a mysterious secret weapon, and Bill must get it. But Bill has something the Tsurisians want. They have a lot of brains, but not enough bodies. They’ll take any body that comes along – and put one of their brains in it! Can Bill escape with his own brain? Can he find the secret weapon? Can he get a drink?
Bill would give his right arm to defend his Emperor against the alien Chingers – which is lucky seeing as he has two of them… War demands sacrifices, and if you’ve lot one left arm, have an artificial foot and a set of nifty surgically-implanted tusks, it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of being a hero. And Bill knows all about heroism – as part of a motley crew his new task is to track down the source of Chinger-controlled metal dragons that are making mincemeat out of humans…
BARWORLD! For all the years that BILL had served in the Troopers, with all the hard beds, hard heads and no creds, any booze on offer was probably embalming fluid, or worse. BARWORLD! An assignment there promised bubbly, brandy and beer galore – enough to give BILL’s right arms (both of them) at last some idea of just what they were for. But that was before Uncle Nancy’s Cross-Dressing Emporium. And the Time/Space Resonation Nexus. And the Hippy from Hell. They were enough to completely alter a person’s perceptions of reality. And, like, totally bum him out.
He’s the perfect Spaceship Trooper: big, strong, and completely brainwashed. He’s the perfect hero: willing to do almost anything to save his neck (perhaps one of the only body parts that’s still his own.) Bill is in the hospital, vainly hoping for a real foot to replace the satyr’s foot he’s been lumbered with. Not that he has anything against satyrs – at least not until one grabs him by the foot and pulls him under the ocean. Into a world of unspeakable and endless pleasures! Roaming this dimension of primordial desires, Bill faces dragons and gunslingers for the sake of true love – and a really good beer!
BILL – the perfect Starship Trooper: big, brawny, and brainwashed. Possessor of two right arms (impressive when it comes to saluting) and a foot that is threatening to turn into something more suited to being an umbrella stand than anything that could be squeezed into a size 11 sneaker. BILL – a perfect recruit for the good ship Bounty, bound for the Chinger war and carrying a cargo of as nice a company of homicidal misfits and maniacs as you could wish to meet outside of a penitentiary asylum (which is where they’ve just come from). BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO – he’s back, he’s bad and about to meet the most hideous alien lifeform of his entire career. He’d do anything to save his skin without rocking the boat – but mutiny? On the Bounty?
BILL – the army’s made him what he is today – the perfect Starship Trooper, proud possess of two right arms and a lockerful of feet suitable for every occasion. BILL – this time he’s really put his foot (the Swiss-Army one with the special attachments, secret compartments, collapsible mess-kit and condom dispenser) right in it. BILL’s been volunteered to join a suicide squad run by Captain Cadaver to the well-known hell-hole planet of Eyerack. The orders are DEATH OR GLORY – and GLORY made a point of never returning the invitation to the war. So. Can this really be IT? The Long Goodbye? Zero Hour? Harmonicas at dawn? The end of a brilliantly undistinguished career of military mishaps? What can I tell you? This IS BILL’s final incoherent adventure!
Assembled here are fourteen of Harrison’s best, spanning time and space from the England of old to empires millennia from now. Among the stories included are “The Golden Years of the Stainless Steel Rat,” in which the cops have finally caught up with an aging Slippery Jim DiGriz; “Roommates,” the original basis for the movie Soylent Green; and twelve more galaxy-spanning classics! From the bestselling West of Eden trilogy to Bill, The Galactic Hero and its sequels, from the Deathworld series to the Stainless Steel Rat books, Harry Harrison’s career is a series of landmarks. Stainless Steel Visions is another: his first major collection of short fiction.