Antiwar satire by science fiction writer Harry Harrison
Harry Harrison, best known as the author of the Steel Rat book series, has lived a long, fruitful life as a writer. From his pen came a lot of works, mostly humorous, in which quite serious topics were laid.
Briefly about the writer
Harry Harrison has released 35 novels and more than two hundred short stories. Born in Connecticut on March 12, 1925, at two years old the family moved to New York. He began his career with scripts for comics and short stories for numerous magazines. Popularity came to him with the release of The Indomitable Planet, for which he was nominated for the Hugo Literary Prize. He became famous as the author of humorous science fiction novels and short stories, a significant part of which was a parody and satire on popular themes and works at that time.
The leitmotif of his books was a protest against the army, wars, authoritarianism, violence against dissidents and predatory aspirations. Most of his heroes are individualists, bright personalities who do not shy from breaking the law in the name of some of their ideals, but at the same time who do not feel hatred even to their most implacable opponents.
Harrison was an extremely popular figure in the world of science fiction, known for being amiable, frank, and infinitely amusing. He liked to talk about the frenzy of the antagonists of his books, he did not trust the generals, prime ministers and tax officials and, above all, he showed his keen intellect and an amazing range of moral, ethical and literary feelings.
As a pseudonym, Harrison used the name Dempsey, which was not fictitious. The thing is that the writer’s father changed his surname to Harrison, and registered his son as Dempsey, giving him his own surname.
He was an ardent supporter of the world-wide Esperanto language – many heroes of his books speak it, and books published in the USA even had addresses and phone numbers of centers for the study of the planned language.
There are several hints that the novels of the Death World and Steel Rat cycles take place in the same universe. For example, several times in the series The World of Death, the Special Corps and its leader Inskippom are mentioned in novels; however, the story “Battleship in Mothballs” mentions an armada about to attack Earth, a planet that was destroyed long ago during the Steel Rat series.
Harry Harrison began his career as an illustrator, but became famous as a science fiction writer. In addition, he traveled a lot and took an active part in the activities of science fiction clubs and magazines.
Childhood and youth
Harry Harrison was born in Connecticut on March 12, 1925. His maternal grandfather moved to the United States from St. Petersburg and worked as a watchmaker. When he was two years old, the family moved to Brooklyn (where his grandfather opened a jewelry store), and three years later to Jamaica (Queens).
After graduating from high school at Forest Hills, he served in the US Air Force (1943-1946), received the rank of sergeant. Participated in battles in France, Holland and Germany. Military service for Harrison, unlike the same Heinlein, was hated. And if the latter became a staunch militarist and a supporter of the language of force, then Harrison in all his works made fun of the army and the state apparatus, I am a staunch pacifist.
After demobilization, Harrison decided to devote himself to painting. In 1948, the future writer graduated from the school of cartoonists and illustrators.
Creative activity and the path to fame
Harrison entered the College of Fine Arts in New York, studied with John Blomshild. Thus, the future science fiction began his career as an artist and illustrator. At an art institution he met artist Wally Wood, with whom he began to produce comics.
After graduating, Harrison opened an advertising graphics agency, wrote articles and stories for magazines, worked on scripts for Flash Gordon comics for more than ten years.
The Hydra Club was his starting point for a serious writing career – there he met many authors, such as Isaac Asimov or Frederic Paul.
Before starting his writing career, he managed to work long enough with the science fiction magazine Worlds Beyond as an illustrator, then as an editor. In the same magazine, in 1951 he published his first essay, “Rock Diver,” and also wrote marine adventure stories for the magazine.
Harrison married Evelyn Harrison in 1950, which he included in one of the cartoons of the Hydra club. They divorced in 1951, and Evelyn soon married science fiction writer Lester del Rey.
Then Harrison married Joan Merkler Harrison in 1954. Their marriage lasted until her death from cancer in 2002. They had two children, Todd (born in 1955) and Moira (born in 1959), to whom he dedicated his novel, “Move over! Move over! ”