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17:31
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Cover of The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, artwork by Jim Burns

If Harry Harrison had only created “Slippery” Jim DiGriz, the roguish hero of the Stainless Steel Rat books, he would deserve a high place in science fiction history. But he also wrote dozens of other novels, including the hilarious Bill the Galactic Hero saga, the proto-Steampunk classic A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!, and the novel that became the movie Soylent Green, Make Room! Make Room!.

Amazingly, Harrison kept writing great novels, with the last Stainless Steel Rat book coming out just two years ago. He died today, aged 87, according to his official website. No details are yet known.

There are few really great comic space opera novels, aside from Douglas Adams. And Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books qualify — Jim DiGriz is a really inspired creation, a rogue smuggler created years before Han Solo existed. Even as “Slippery” Jim sort of goes straight in the later books, he never stops being a source of ridiculous fun, and his romance with the equally criminal and devious Angelina is a really sweet, heartfelt relationship. I read the Stainless Steel Rat books at a very impressionable age, and a lot of clever bits stick in my mind — like the bit where “Slippery” Jim explains that intergalactic empires are impossible due to the problems with travel at relativistic speeds. This series was always smarter than a lot of other space operas, even alongside its gratifying levels of silliness. …

(via R.I.P. Harry Harrison, creator of the Stainless Steel Rat, Bill the Galactic Hero, and Soylent Green)

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