Continuing our way through the Grand Tour of the Gateway Essentials, we come to one of our earliest success stories. The books of Harry Harrison were the first of our Gateway eBooks to take off in a manner that suggested that we hadn’t actually wasted all of that time, effort and money returning all this classic SF to availability. It was a welcome shot-in-the-arm in the early days of the project – if not exactly a ‘build it and he will come’ moment, it was certainly a ‘readers stilll want the classics’ sign, for which we were (and remain!) very grateful.
Harry Harrison, as we’re sure you all know, was born Henry Maxwell Dempsey in Connecticut, in 1925. He was the author of a number of much-loved series including the Stainless Steel Rat and Bill the Galactic Hero sequences and the Deathworld Trilogy. He was known as a passionate advocate of Esperanto, the most popular of the constructed international languages, which appears in many of his novels. He published novels for over half a century and was perhaps best known for his seminal novel of overpopulation, Make Room! Make Room!, which was adapted into the cult film Soylent Green (and which is the only one of his novels not to be available from SF Gateway. Dammit).
So, where to start? Take a deep breath and dive in . . .
If you’re enjoying the current trend (especially in TV and film) for shades-of-grey protagonists and feel that you can root for a conman with a heart of gold (well . . . maybe gold-plating . . .), then the Stainless Steel Rat is the man for you! Meet James Bolivar ‘Slippery Jim’ DiGriz, AKA the Stainless Steel Rat, the galaxy’s greatest thief and con artist. Harry Harrison’s Gateway Author page lists the Stainless Steel Rat novels in publication order, but here is the internal reading order:
Too light and fluffy for you? Don’t worry; Harry Harrison’s got you covered. How about a tour of a few planets so hostile to human life that they’re referred to as . . . well, see for yourself:
No? How ’bout some dinosaurs, then?
And if you’re still hungry for more Harrison we suggest checking out the other titles on his Gateway Author page – and, of course, you can read about Harry Harrison in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.