Archive for February, 2009

Stainless Steel Art (7)

28 February, 2009

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Harry Harrison is one of the bestselling authors in Russia. That’s not just ‘bestselling SF authors’ but best selling authors period. When Harry Harrison went to buy caviar in a fish market in Moscow, the woman on the stall knew who he was. How cool is that? 🙂

Though in Russia he’s Garry Garrison, as there isn’t an aspirate aitch in the Russian language. Or so I’m told.

What there is in Russia are some great editions of Harry’s books. There’s a single volume edition of all ten Stainless Steel Rat books, which is both very attractive and very heavy. There was also the first world edition of The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus in April 2000, a good few months ahead of either the UK or US editions.

Here’s the cover to that book, published jointly by Russian publisher EKSMO and Alexander Korzhenevski. Here we get Jim, metal rats, porcuswine, and a young lady in a skimpy costume…

Unfortunately I have no details about the cover artist – if you know, please leave a comment…

[Update 3rd March 2009:  Thanks to ‘T3’ we now have the cover artist credit.]

Art: Igor Varavin

Art: Igor Varavin


Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas Podcast

27 February, 2009


The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninja’s show #42, dated 27th December 2008, was devoted to a discussion of Harry Harrison’s Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. Have a listen to their podcast.

Stainless Steel Art (6)

27 February, 2009

Bryn Barnard did a series of Rat covers for Ace in the mid 1980s. I think they’re fantastic – the kind of image which would make me pick a book off the rack even if I’d never heard of the title or author. Bryn also provided the interior illustrations – but not the covers – for the Harry Harrison short story collections Galactic Dreams and Stainless Steel Visions.

I’m sure I stole was inspired by Bryn’s design when I did the cover for one of my Harry Harrison fanzines, and this was the design which ultimately became the bibliography cover, as posted a couple of days ago.

Thanks to Bryn, who replied to my query about the artwork earlier this week:  

“I did a bunch of Harry Harrison covers for Ace: the Stainless Steel Rat trilogy and later You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat (an interactive story, where readers choose different routes through the story) and the Deathworld trilogy. The Stainless Steel Visions and Galactic Dreams interiors came years later … Both Deathworld and the Stainless Steel Rat books were done in collaboration with the great Gene Mydlowski, then art director at Ace/Berkley. He deserves credit for the suggestion that I try some sort of literal interpretation of the Stainless Steel Rat.” 

As well as his website, you can check out Bryn’s blog


Art: Bryn Barnard

Art: Bryn Barnard


We had a French Rat cover yesterday, and here’s another one from an older edition published, I think, by J.-C. Lattes in 1981, with cover art by Keleck. Unfortunately I only have this rather ropey web image, and no other details about the artist…

Art: Keleck(?)

Art: Keleck(?)

Stainless Steel Art (5)

26 February, 2009

Before there was ever a Brad and Angelina there was Jim and Angelina. A crook and a psychopath. When they met it was moider… or was that some other TV couple? 🙂

Here are Slippery Jim diGriz, as envisioned by Don Maitz for the recent SF Book Club edition of Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat and Angelina by Carlos Ezquerra from the 2000ad comic adaptation.


Art (c) Don Maitz


Art: Carlos Ezquerra

And finally, Jim and Angelina – plus robot – from a French edition of The Stainless Steel Rat with artwork which I think is by 2000ad Halo Jones artist Ian Gibson. If I’m wrong, leave a comment and let me know…

[September 2010 update: I was wrong – the artist is Philippe Caza, who also did a cover for the J’ai Lu edition of The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge] 


Art: Philippe Caza

Stainless Steel Art (4)

25 February, 2009

Time for another Rat, I think. This image made a brief appearance on the main page of the Official Harry Harrison Website, but we took it down because Harry didn’t like it. Or rather, he didn’t like the red eyes of the Rat, as they made him look kind of evil, which isn’t what the Rat is really about, which was a fair comment. Originally there was going to be a gun in the Rat’s hand, but that was beyond my artistic capabilities at the time… : )

I recycled this image as the cover to the Harry Harrison bibliography. If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have changed the eye to a pale blue one, but I forgot. Honest…

Art: Paul Tomlinson

Art: Paul Tomlinson

The following image is, according to my notes, from the Hungarian (Magyar) edition of The Stainless Steel Rat. I’m not sure whether this is a recent cover or an older one. I’ve no idea who the artist is, I’m afraid: add a comment if you know…

And hello to the Hungarian fans I met in Budapest in June 2006 when Harry was guest of honour at the Eurocon there: we had a great time! So hi to Peter Michaleczky, Zsuzsanna Tóth (Cyberina), ‘Ben Gunn,’ Lazlo, Jun Miyazaki… I know I’m missing some names here, so hello to everyone else we met!

Art: ?

Art: ?

Stainless Steel Art (3)

24 February, 2009

Yesterday I mentioned the artist Jim Burns in relation to the short story ‘Streets of Ashkelon.’ Here’s another painting by Jim, this one from the Bantam edition of A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, featuring a moody, James Dean-ish version of the young Rat. One of the reasons I love Jim Burns’ paintings is the fact that the people – including the aliens! – always somehow remind me of real people, as though I somehow recognise them. Genius.

Jim Burns did a whole series of Rat covers for Bantam. I’ll dig the other ones out too and scan them.

Art: Jim Burns

Art: Jim Burns

And now for something completely different…  A German cover for The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell with cover art, I believe, by Karel Thole.

No schoolboy jokes, please, about how that title reads to English-speakers… 😉

Art: Karel Thole

Art: Karel Thole

Return to Ashkelon

23 February, 2009

Writing about ‘The Streets of Ashkelon’ the other day reminded me of a couple of great cover images I came across while researching the HH bibliography.

The first is by Jim Burns, who has had a long association with Harry Harrison since they originally collaborated on Planet Story. Jim is also, in my opinion, one of the finest artists in the world. The image here is almost as haunting as the story.

Art: Jim Burns

Art: Jim Burns

The second image is, I think, from a Greek edition of a collection of Harry Harrison’s stories, which included the short story under a translation of it’s variant title, ‘An Alien Agony.’ At least, I think it did: I’m typing this from memory… For some reason I find this image really disturbing, and therefore very effective.

Art: ?

Art: ?

The Best Harry Harrison Story Ever?

21 February, 2009

Harry Harrison has written over 100 short stories – I listed 120 in the 2002 bibliography, and I missed a few – but which are the best ones, and how would you judge which were best?

I’ve spent some time recently OCR-ing the texts of the short stories, and at the same time I put together a list of all the Harry Harrison collections and their contents. As this was in a spreadsheet, I sorted the list to see which were the stories Harry had most often chosen to appear in his own collections.

The eight collections included are: 50 in 50; The Best of Harry Harrison; Galactic Dreams; One Step from Earth; Prime Number; Stainless Steel Visions; Two Tales and Eight Tomorrows; War with the Robots

Here are the top 20 Harry Harrison short stories, as voted for by … Harry Harrison!

In second place, with 3 votes each are:

At Last, the True Story of Frankenstein!
Brave Newer World
Captain Honario Harpplayer, RN
Down to Earth
From Fanaticism, or for Reward
The Repairman
The Robot Who Wanted to Know
Simulated Trainer
Space Rats of the C.C.C.
Survival Planet

In first place, with 4 votes each are:

A Criminal Act
I Always Do What Teddy Says
Mute Milton
Not Me, Not Amos Cabot!
Portrait of the Artist
Rescue Operation
The Streets of Ashkelon

A quick flick through the bibliography provides a rough guide to which of these have been the most popular with anthologists:

The Streets of Ashkelon
At Last, the True Story of Frankenstein!
Final Encounter
Rescue Operation
The Secret of Stonehenge
By the Falls
Space Rats of the C.C.C

With the first two being the winners by a long way.

If we decide the factor in a ‘critic’s choice’ vote, the Harry Harrison short story most often referred to in reference and critical works is… The Streets of Ashkelon.

Which means that, however you measure it, Harry Harrison’s finest short story is almost certainly The Streets of Ashkelon. This one would have been my first choice – I think it is one of the finest SF short stories ever written – closely followed by Mute Milton, which is probably one of the angriest short stories ever written, and the better for it.

If you haven’t read Harry’s short stories, pick up one of the collections and pick one of the top 20 listed above and give it a go.

Terror in Tivoli

20 February, 2009

Here is another of the more obscure Harry Harrison short stories – this one’s a mystery story which appeared in the Saint magazine in June 1962 in England, and August 1962 in the USA.

Terror in Tivoli
by Harry Harrison

“A great lunch, Captain Nielsen, Tivoli is everything you said it would be.”

“May the rest of your stay in Copenhagen be just as pleasurable, Captain Miles – Skol!”

Both policemen raised their glasses of akvavit in a friendly toast. Sunlight spangled their table, shining through the leaves of the trees above. In the background was the pleasant murmur of many voices, laughter, excited shrieks from the riders on the rumbling roller-coaster. A band, dimly heard in the distance was playing a Strauss waltz. It was warm and pleasant.

The scream sliced through the air like a slashing knife, destroying the tranquil fabric in an instant. It was piercing, throbbing, the sound of a woman in terror.

Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers

19 February, 2009

I was browsing the Japanese version of the Amazon website yesterday – which is good fun if, like me, you don’t read Japanese! – and came across this cover image, which I thought was pretty good.

I’ve no idea who the artist is – add a comment if you’re able to identify the creator.

This makes me think that a manga or an anime version of a Harry Harrison story would be something worth seeing. Star Smashers, or Bill, or Planet Story, or… 🙂



And here’s a German edition of Bill, the Galactic Hero: The Final Incoherent Adventure – this one’s for adults only, obviously, so if you’re under 18 look away now…


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