The Best Harry Harrison Story Ever?

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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
Roommates
Simulated Trainer
Space Rats of the C.C.C.
Survival Planet
Toyshop

In first place, with 4 votes each are:

A Criminal Act
I Always Do What Teddy Says
If
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.

One Response to “The Best Harry Harrison Story Ever?”

  1. T3 Says:

    IMHO one of the best stories is ‘The Velvet Glove’. And ‘The Streets of Ashkelon’ of course.

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