Archive for December, 2007

Best Wishes…

21 December, 2007

… to everyone who reads this blog. Today is my last working day until 2nd January, and I shall be avoiding computers for as much of the holiday period as I can, so I’ll wish you all compliments of the season and all the best for the New Year.

Harry should be relaxing in the warmth of California as you read this, and sends his best wishes to everyone too.

Join us again in the New Year, when we’ll hopefully be able to bring you news of some exciting new projects, including a movie adaptation of a popular HH novel, and maybe news of that original Harry Harrison graphic novel… and I’ll continue unearthing more obscure items to share with you.

 See you in 2008!

The Body Snatcher

21 December, 2007

Here, as promised, is one of Harry Harrison’s comic book pieces from the early 1950s. It was published in the October 1952 issue of Beware (#12), a horror comic which Harrison was also editing / packaging for Youthful Comics.

This story was definitely drawn and inked by HH, and it is believed that he also wrote the script.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the pages at (hopefully) readable size.

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The Continental Charm

21 December, 2007

The Continental Charm
by Harry Harrison (1960)

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“Man oh man!” I sighed, “Coney Island was never like this!”

“Sack-Time, you are a disgrace,” the Sarge said to me. “You are in paradise, sipping at the champagne of life — and all you can think of is stale beer.” He hit the heel of his hand into the water and splashed it into my mouth. The Sarge is always a great kidder.

But neither of us was kidding about this being great. We were floating in the bright blue water near this little beach. The limestone cliffs rose straight up behind it, with green trees showing at the top, what looked like a mile above us. Everything else was sky and water, with the red-hot ball of the Mediterranean sun roasting it all. White yachts, people in the water and sunbathing in deck chairs. There was a sputtering roar behind us as a power boat tore by, towing a water skier. We turned to watch.

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I Ate a Pygmy

21 December, 2007

Here’s a tasteful little story, which Harry Harrison has occasionally referred to in interviews, using the title ‘I Ate a Pygmy.’ This ‘true’ adventure was made up by HH and collaborator Hubert Pritchard, and the accompanying photograph – not for the squeamish! – was also faked by the two of them. The human arm was modelled in clay by Pritchard, I think, and the photograph was taken by HH, who carefully adjusted the focus so that the image was slightly blurred. The arm was then covered with a ten cent can of stew, which Harrison and Pritchard were intending to eat once the photoshoot was completed – but the image they created was so revolting that they lost their appetites for stew!

The Unholiest Banquet
by ‘Hugh Fitzpatrick’ [Harry Harrison & Hubert Pritchard] (1958)

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My heart hammered a loud echo in my ears as George knocked on the front door. We were at, a house in the most fashionable section of Leopoldville, going to a dinner party. Any other time, I would have been relaxed and probably bored. Now I was keyed up, excited. This dinner party was going to be very different.

A trap in the door opened suddenly and a man looked out. He didn’t say a word, just looked us up and down with a cold glare. George leaned forward and whispered something to him – the door swung open.

We walked in and gave the butler our coats, then joined the small group in the living room. They were all from the very upper strata of African society. The men wore tuxedos, the women were dressed in low-cut evening gowns. We talked together politely, but we were scarcely aware of what we said. All of our attention was focused on the closed entrance to the dining room. It seemed hours before the butler threw open the doors and announced dinner.

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The Thirsty Man

20 December, 2007

Here’s a more unusual piece: one of the ‘missing’ Harry Harrison stories I discovered during my recent research for the new edition of the HH bibliography. This is one of the oldest HH short stories, I think, as it went unpublished for some time before it appeared in Tightrope magazine. Unusual too in that – as far as I know – this is Harry Harrison’s only published Western story…

The Thirsty Man
by ‘Harry Hapgood’ [Harry Harrison & Hubert Pritchard]

The second that Bard Collins saw the back door of the jail, he knew something was wrong. The toothpick that he had been using to pry some of the Smiling Kitchen beef gristle from his teeth dropped to the ground. His .44 snaked out in an easy motion. The back door of the jailhouse was never open – but it was open now. Moving up quietly and standing to one side of the light, he couldn’t hear a thing. He went in, low and fast.

Bard was a little late. Daddy Hathaway lay on the floor, his white hair soaked red and his eyes glazed with death. Daddy’s gnarled hand was still holding the open door to the cell. The Lacey Brothers were gone.

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I Was Sold on the Slave Block

20 December, 2007

I Was Sold on the Slave Block
by ‘Treadwell Martin’
as told to Harry Harrison (1956)

I tried to turn aside, but the guard behind me twisted the chain until the handcuffs bit into my wrists. He pushed me forward. The sharp edge of the platform cut into my ankles and I stumbled and almost fell. I received a blow on the head for my clumsiness and was barely conscious of being dragged forward. The auctioneer’s harsh voice ground into my ears as he addressed the prospective buyers. A hard-faced Arab in the front row leaned forward and prodded my leg muscles, the way a livestock buyer would examine a horse.

The whole scene seemed unreal and ancient like an illustration from Arabian Nights, a slave market right out of the dark ages, complete with smoking lamps, Arab buyers and chained rows of slaves. But this wasn’t history – it was happening right now in the year 1954, and it was happening to me.

I was being sold on the block as a slave.

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Hitch Hiker

20 December, 2007

Hitch Hiker
by Harry Harrison (1960)

The needle on the gas gauge was touching empty. Kleg looked at it and cursed and knew he would have to stop and refill the tank. It took an effort to make his foot leave the floor-tight accelerator and move over to the brake. Every minute and every mile put him that much farther ahead of them, gave him that much more of a chance. But the tank had to be filled.

From horizon to horizon the road stretched, empty and shimmering with the late afternoon heat waves. One spot was as good as another to stop in that monotonous desert of mesquite and cactus. Now that he had made up his mind to stop, he wanted to do it fast and get it over with. The tyres squealed as he jammed the brake, then stones grumbled and rattled against the fenders as he turned off on to the shoulder. With a final lurch the car stopped and was immediately enveloped in a slowly settling cloud of dust. The silence was intense after the constant roar of the engine.

Kleg took a look at the back seat; the baby was still asleep, rocking gently in the canvas car bed. With a little luck he could get the job done and start moving again before he woke up. The tear stains on the puffy face didn’t bother Kleg, he was only glad that after crying for over three hours the baby had finally shut up and fallen asleep.

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The Lightest-Fingered Crooks in the World

19 December, 2007

The Lightest-Fingered Crooks in the World
by Harry Harrison (1958)

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Is the manhole cover still out there in the street – or has it vanished like the bulbs in the street lights? And while you’re taking a look you had better also check your car, in case all of the wheels are missing.

If you live in the United States, the chances are that you have never had any worries like these – but if you live in Mexico, these little troubles are commonplace. The country seems to be infested with the lightest-fingered crooks in the world and lifting anything movable seems to be a national outdoor sport.

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I Was Sealed Alive in an Oil Tank

19 December, 2007


I Was Sealed Alive in an Oil Tank

By ‘Charles Howes’
As told to Harry Harrison

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When I first heard that B-146 was slated for crude oil, I knew there might be trouble. B-146 is a real antique, one of the oldest tanks at the Port Arthur, Texas refinery. She must have been built twenty, thirty years ago, before we knew much about tank construction, and she lies, right on the ground without foundation. I had just finished sand-blasting and repainting her for the eleventh time, and sent in a report that she was too contaminated to be used. I guess I was hoping they would tear her down, but no such luck. Crude oil it was going to be, and B-146 had to be cleaned out before the stuff arrived.

I got my day maintenance gang together and we started hammering loose the rusted nuts and bolts that held the plate which sealed the ground level entry port. Inside, it was like an oven. I stood there in the black muck, gasping for air, in the middle of an enormous echoing chamber. The top of the tank was forty feet over my head and the floor was 110 feet across. We had to go over every foot of those walls with scrapers, load the gunk into disposal hoppers and drag it out. After this, the whole tank would be hosed down and the water sucked away.

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Moment of Decision

19 December, 2007

This story is from a British comic called Boy’sWorld…

Moment of Decision
by Harry Harrison (1963)

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The skiing figure was just a black mark against the white snow of the hill above. It appeared suddenly at the summit before falling straight down into the valley. Peter’s breath caught in his throat as he watched the lightning descent, the skier growing larger as he dropped, doing sixty… seventy miles an hour down the icy slope. It seemed impossible that he could stay balanced on the flimsy-looking skis at that speed, and such recklessness could end only in disaster. Yet the man on skis seemed ignorant of any danger as he twisted suddenly to avoid a tree, then bounded over a ridge. The freezing air cut like broken glass in Peter’s throat as he forced himself to breathe. He was sure that his father would never reach the bottom of the slope alive.

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