Harry Harrison (writer)
Harry Harrison is the pen name of Henry Maxwell Dempsey (12 March 1925 – 15 August 2012), an American science fiction author most famous for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973).
- With a mental effort, he grabbed hold of his thoughts and braked them to a stop. There was something new here, factors he hadn't counted on. He kept reassuring himself there was an explanation for everything, once you had your facts straight.
- p. 85
- The compartment was getting crowded as other Pyrrans pushed in. Kerk, almost to the door, turned back to face Jason.
"I'll tell you what's wrong with armistice," he said. "It's a coward's way out, that's what it is. It's all right for you to suggest it, you're from off-world and don't know any better. But do you honestly think I could entertain such a defeatist notion for one instant? When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for all of us here. We don't mind fighting, and we know how to do it. We know that if this war was over we could build a better world here. At the same time, if we have the choice of continued war or a cowardly peace — we vote for war. This war will only be over when the enemy is utterly destroyed!"
The listening Pyrrans murmured in agreement, and Jason had to shout to be heard above them. "That's really wonderful. I bet you even think it's original. But don't you hear all that cheering offstage? Those are the spirits of every saber-rattling sonofabitch that ever plugged for noble war. They even recognize the old slogan. We're on the side of light, and the enemy is a creature of darkness. And it doesn't matter a damn if the other side is saying the same thing. You've still got the same old words that have been killing people since the birth of the human race. A 'cowardly peace,' that's a good one. Peace means not being at war, not fighting. How can you have a cowardly not-fighting. What are you trying to hide with this semantic confusion? Your real reasons? I can't blame you for being ashamed of them — I would be. Why don't you just come out and say you are keeping the war going because you enjoy killing? Seeing things die makes you and your murderers happy, and you want to make them happier still!"
- p. 112
- "What about it, Meta?" he snapped. "No doubts? Do you think that destruction is the only way to end this war?"
"I don't know," she said. "I can't be sure. For the first time in my life I find myself with more than one answer to the same question."
"Congratulations," he said. "It's a sign of growing up."
- p. 113
- Just because you know a thing is true in theory, doesn't make it true in fact. The barbaric religions of primitive worlds hold not a germ of scientific fact, though they claim to explain all. Yet if one of these savages has all the logical ground for his beliefs taken away — he doesn't stop believing. He then calls his mistaken beliefs 'faith' because he knows they are right. And he knows they are right because he has faith. This is an unbreakable circle of false logic that can't be touched. In reality, it is plain mental inertia. A case of thinking 'what always was' will also 'always be.' And not wanting to blast the thinking patterns out of the old rut.
- p. 151
- The crossbows twanged like harps of death.
- p. 154
Planet of the Damned (1962)
- I have done more in one day than you all have done since you arrived. I have accomplished this because I am better at my work than the rest of you. That is all the information any of you are going to receive. You are dismissed.
- Chapter 8
- You must realize that living organisms will do anything to survive. Castaways at sea will drink their own urine in their need for water. Disgust at this is only the attitude of the overprotected who have never experienced extreme thirst or hunger.
- Chapter 8
- There are far too many people there for comfort. Birth control came late and is still being fought—if you can possibly imagine that. There are just too many of the archaic religions still around, as well as crackbrained ideas that have been long entrenched in custom. The world’s overcrowded. Men, women, children, a boiling mob wherever you look.
- Chapter 12
- The final product is a man-plant-animal symbiote that is admirably adapted for survival on this disaster world. No emotions to cause complications or desires that might interfere with pure survival. Complete ruthlessness—mankind has always been strong on this anyway, so it didn’t take much of a push.”
- Chapter 15
- Their personal policy has become their planetary policy—and that’s never a very smart thing.
- Chapter 15
- How large was mankind’s sense of obligation? The caveman first had this feeling for his mate, then for his family. It grew until men fought and died for the abstract ideas of cities and nations, then for whole planets. Would the time ever come when men might realize that the obligation should be to the largest and most encompassing reality of all—mankind? And beyond that to life of all kinds.
- Chapter 18
Plague from Space (1965)
- All page numbers are from the mass market edition published by Bantam Books (F3640), July 1968
- What finally decided me was what happened in that village in Tibet; we had airdropped in during the night to get between the Indians and the Chinese. I had never seen poverty or disease like that and I wondered why guns were the only thing we could bring them.
- Chapter 3 (p. 25; the character is explaining why he left the army to go into medicine)
- Without being too clinical, let’s say his brain was affected.
- Chapter 6 (p. 50)
- A kiss is a contact, a union, an exchange. It is unknown to certain races and tribes, while others know it and consider it with disgust. They all suffer a loss. A kiss can be a cold formula, or a token of familial relationship or a prelude to the act of love. It can also be a revelation in an unspoken, secret language of feelings that have never been expressed in words.
- Chapter 9 (pp. 81-82)
- “Politicians,” he snorted, stamping the length of the room. “Meatheads! Sitting up there on their fat duffs and making unilateral decisions that may affect the entire future of the human race—and making those decisions out of fear. I hadn’t realized that the old philosophy of a bomb-waving solution for international problems was still lurking in dark, spider-filled corners of the political mind. Cretins!”
- Chapter 10 (p. 104)
- They stared at each other, man and alien, or more correctly alien and alien—for this is what they were to each other. Alien meaning different, alien meaning unknown.
- Chapter 13 (p. 136)
- Quotes from stories involving the character James Bolivar DiGriz aka "Slippery Jim"" aka "The Stainless Steel Rat"
- When the office door opened suddenly I knew the game was up. It had been a money-maker — but it was all over. As the cop walked in I sat back in the chair and put on a happy grin. He had the same sombre expression and heavy foot that they all have — and the same lack of humour. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable.
"James Bolivar diGriz I arrest you on the charge—"
I was waiting for the word charge, I thought it made a nice touch that way. As he said it I pressed the button that set off the charge of black powder in the ceiling, the crossbeam buckled and the three-ton safe dropped through right on the top of the cop's head. He squashed very nicely, thank you. The cloud of plaster dust settled and all I could see of him was one hand, slightly crumpled. It twitched a bit and the index finger pointed at me accusingly. His voice was a little muffled by the safe and sounded a bit annoyed. In fact he repeated himself a bit.
"On the charge of illegal entry, theft, forgery—"
He ran on like that for quite a while, it was an impressive list but I had heard it all before. I didn't let it interfere with my stuffing all the money from the desk drawers into my suitcase. The list ended with a new charge and I would swear on a stack of thousand credit notes that high that there was a hurt tone in his voice.
"In addition the charge of assaulting a police robot will be added to your record."
- Original short-story, "The Stainless Steel Rat" in Astounding magazine (August 1957)
- You're not a homicidal, I checked that on your record before I came out after you. That is why I know you will join the Corps and get a great deal of pleasure out of going after the other kind of criminal who is sick, not just socially protesting. The man who can kill and enjoy it.
- Inskipp the Uncatchable, recruiting Jim diGriz into the Special Corps, in "The Stainless Steel Rat" in Astounding magazine (August 1957)
- The human race is gregarious, I knew that even though I had been denying it for years.
I was going to keep on doing the loneliest job in the universe — only I wasn't going to be doing it alone.
- Jim diGriz, in "The Stainless Steel Rat" in Astounding magazine (August 1957)
- Cold-blooded killing is just not my thing. I've killed in self-defence, I'll not deny that, but I still maintain an exaggerated respect for life in all forms. Now that we know that the only thing on the other side of the sky is more sky, the idea of an afterlife has finally been slid into the history books alongside the rest of the quaint and forgotten religions. With heaven and hell gone we are faced with the necessity of making a heaven or hell right here. What with societies and metatechnology and allied disciplines we have come a long way and life on the civilised worlds is better than it was during the black days of superstition. But with the improving of here and now comes the stark realisation that here and now is all we have. Each of us has only this one brief experience with the bright light of consciousness in that endless dark night of eternity and must make the most of it. Doing this means we must respect the existence of everyone else and the most criminal act imaginable is the terminating of one of these conscious existences.
- The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge (1970)
- We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment.
- A Stainless Steel Rat is Born (1985)
Quotes about Harrison
- Harrison was an extremely popular figure in the SF world, renowned for being amiable, outspoken and endlessly amusing. His quickfire, machine-gun delivery of words was a delight to hear, and a reward to unravel: he was funny and self-aware, he enjoyed reporting the follies of others, he distrusted generals, prime ministers and tax officials with sardonic and cruel wit, and above all he made plain his acute intelligence and astonishing range of moral, ethical and literary sensibilities.
- Official website
- Harry Harrison at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Harry Harrison (writer) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Harry Harrison obituary" by Christopher Priest in The Guardian (15 August 2012)
- Works by Harry Harrison at Project Gutenberg
- Harry Harrison News Blog
- "Worlds Beside Worlds" (Harry Harrison describes how "Tunnel through the Deeps" was written)
- Interview with Harry Harrison in Dublin, Ireland (6 July 1997)
- Samples of works published as e-books