Harry Harrison, the American science fiction writer best known for the Stainless Steel Rat comic space opera series and the dystopian Make Room! Make Room! has died at the age of 87.
He also parodied the genre in his Bill the Galactic Hero books, seeing his work as anti-war and anti-militaristic. Brian Aldiss, who worked with Harrison on criticism and editing science fiction anthologies, called him "a constant peer and great family friend".
Harrison's first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960, with the Stainless Steel Rat appearing for the first time a year later. "Slippery Jim" diGriz, the books' anti-hero, whose latest appearance was in 2010, was, one admirer pointed out on Wednesday, a "rogue smuggler" created years before Han Solo in the Star Wars films.
The central idea of Make Room! Make Room!, his 1966 novel in which a critical food shortage in overpopulated New York means a food substitute is needed, was used in the 1973 film Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston.
Harrison, an advocate of the international language Esperanto, which appears in several of his books, was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1925and also lived for periods in Mexico, England, Ireland, Denmark and Italy. After service in the second world war and art study, he ran a studio selling illustrations to comics and science fiction magazines, He married Joan (née Merkler) in 1954 in New York. She died from cancer in 2002. They had two children, Todd and Moira.
Harrison was quite prescient - we're almost to the world of Soylent Green/ Make Room! Make Room! now.