Question Time?


Just a quick update – have more news to post when I get home mid-September, but at the moment I’m on walkabout. I’m now officially unemployed, so may even get round to updating this more regularly!

Good news is I’m currently staying not far from Harry Harrison, and will be seeing him regularly over the next couple of weeks. I’m recording some interviews with him for a couple of projects, and will try and post a short podcast-y thing here — provided my netbook is up to the job.

If you have a question for Harry, post it here as a comment, and I’ll get a reply for you in a couple of days.

— Paul

11 Responses to “Question Time?”

  1. Burin Bache Says:

    Would be interesting to know if he has something in the pipeline and what…or what he might is working on.
    And if he still has ideas for books or stories after having written already so many good ones.
    Hm, is Hollywood still re-newing the rights for a Steelrat movie and supporting Harry’s drinking-habit? πŸ˜‰
    And looking back on his long successful career what is he considering the most important and/or best thing he has done as a writer? A novel he wrote, a short story or supporting Esperanto?
    Thinking of the Rat-movie and Soylent Green (LOL :P) I’d like to know if Harry does like any of the latest sci-fi movies that had been released or if he is disappointed by what Hollywoods comes up with while so many classic sci-fi books have much much better stories.
    And one last thing. As he writer who had come up with many various shapes of the future what does he think will be the direction mankind will go to in the near and a lil more distant future? Will it be a Bit O’Heaven or a Deathworld…..and will there be Rats…needed?

  2. Jim diGris Says:

    Can you ask Harry if he would consider doing a fourth book in the West of Eden series? That was a fantastic series but left hanging.

  3. Andy Smith Says:

    A question for Harry: What are his feelings on audio books and ebooks? Ta.

  4. Sergei "Tetri" Trebunskikh Says:

    What do you think about the modern situation in SF, and about the future of SF?

  5. crypto Says:


    Please ask Harry when he plans to visit Moscow next time?

    Thank You!

    p.s. new Stainless Steel Rat book is amazing!!!

  6. Burin Bache Says:

    OMG this is so exciting!
    Hm, let me think of some more questions…

    What are Harry’s 3 most favorite sci-fi writers (besides himself;)) and most favorite sci-fi novels (none of his)?
    And what is his most favorite book of his…or series of book and which of his works considers he the most influential?
    Oh, and as somebody who came up with so many futuristic gadgets in his books like all the special-tools Jim is using or the handguns of the people from Pyrrus in Deathworld…what is for him to most “scifi-ish” real world thing humans came up with (like maybe the iPad or wireless technology or such stuff)?
    If Harry could pick just one of his novels or shortstories which one would he like the most to be turned into a movie by Hollywood?
    I wonder if Harry is a lil interested in computer games most notably those having a scifi-story, whether its older ones (maybe like the game UBIK based on Philip K. Dicks novel) or new or upcoming ones like Deus Ex 3. And since on some of these newer and more complex games even scifi writers do work for like Richard Morgan now on Crysis 2 would that be something that Harry would like to give a try since he wrote the adventure book “You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat” back then…kinda like a very early predecessor?
    And finally, what is the thing he would like to have done the most but could not just because its a not so legal Rat-thing;) or something that is currently only possible in one of the many pictures of the future he has come up with? Like flying a spaceship or talking with an artificial intelligence like Mark Forer….or just caressing a porcuswine!;)
    I better stop now…
    Oh, and don’t twist your tongue on pronouncing the name….tho I liked how you did it. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

  7. Burin Bache Says:

    Okay, let’s see if we cannot turn this into a whole book of questions as long as Harry ain’t becoming annoyed of answering. πŸ˜‰

    Since you wrote the game book β€œYou Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat” which of Jim’s adventures is the one you’d like to experience the most? Fighting the Grey Men, the aliens, the revenue authorities? πŸ˜‰ Or just driving Inskipp a lil nuts?

    You worked on comics early in your career, some of your novels have been made comics off and your website features some Stainless Steel art drawn by yourself ( ). Have you ever done some illustrations for some of your stories and if not for publishing just for yourself to better visualize some of your ideas? And if so is there a chance that they will be published?

    In ‘The SSR’s Revenge’ you describe shortly these effective and eco-friendly flywheel-powered three-wheelers driven by the police on the planet Katana while the average people have only peat-fired steam engine cars. That is quite a technology gap. You also probably invented the first robot that run on burned coals in the first rat book.
    So we have alot high-tech right beside low-tech in the SSR-universe. Was that just a humorous idea or do you think that in the future we might have to fall back on more primitive technology as well?

    ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ was first published 1966 and it describes a very bitter world of 1999. In the introduction you described why the world could turn into this i.e. by the insatiable hunger for raw materials just of the industrial nations. While the world as not become as worse as in the novel do you think that ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ has not decreased at all in its actuality as a warning?

    Lately we see a lot of new gadgets coming up in the form of so called ipads and electronic readers e-books and e-newpapers. As a writer are you afraid that if your work is published in digital form and becoming as easily copyable as digital music already is? Or do you feel a thrill of anticipation that your work might becomes more easily available for everybody…no matter if they pay for it or not?

    The science fiction genre has often declared as outdated if not dead. It has seen the great 1920’s when it became increasingly popular with Hugo Gernsback’s magazine, then the great era of John W. Campbell Jr., the golden 50’s….then came the moon-landing and I think I read it in Brian Aldiss ‘A trillion year spree’ that some thought sci-fi would be over now, because it had turned into reality. The 60’s saw the New Age and sci-fi continued to life on up today. But today with more and new mediums like personal computers, internet and Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games that allow you to dive into another universe where you can interact with other people and experience adventures, are you afraid that such things could finally diminish the popularity of science fiction literature?

    Lately it seems (at least by whats published here in Germany) that two things are popular in science fiction nowadays. The publishers prefer serial novels and a lot of those is so called military sci-fi.
    So what do you think of the current state of science fiction? Is it lacking the ‘sense of wonder’ of earlier times and is it maybe eventually time for a renewal, a new direction?

    I mentioned Brian Aldiss ‘A trillion year spree’ already. He is a friend of your’s. In his book ‘Trillion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction’ you have been mentioned with not that much more than a few short sentences….as far as a recall. For you humor you brought into sci-fi with Slippery Jim and the coal burning robot is given as an example. While you had not been pilloried you have not been cheered really either. Did you ever seeked for a little revenge? πŸ˜‰ Maybe like making him a funny minor character in a book? Hm, am I giving you ideas? πŸ˜›

    In a slightly more serious way, did you ever cared what other sci-fi authors said about your books when it was something negative or did you reacted in a way like Robert Heinlein whom you said never talked with you again after ‘Bill, the galactic hero’. πŸ˜‰

    While probably nobody does read as much science fiction stories as John W. Campbell did in his time what and how much do you read nowadays? You did told what your favorite science fiction books are and all are classics published long ago. Is there anything newer you like to read and do you have an eye on the new publications of science fiction or is there simple nothing really that catches your attention?

    Did you ever looked yourself up on the internet like the entry on Wikipedia to check what you all have become famous for?

    Are there any real things in todays world that you would have never even dreamed about in a science fiction story of your’s decades ago?

    Stephen Hawking lately said that mankind has fly to the stars and find new worlds to live on in the future to assure its survival.
    What is in your opinion the one thing mankind as to do to secure it will have a future?

    And finally, have you ever felt at least a tiny bit guilty for making probably countless (male) young readers want to become a crook like Slippery Jim rather than a law-abiding citizen? πŸ˜‰

  8. Burin Bache Says:

    As long as I’m not told you do not like it I selfishly presume you’d enjoy being ask more a little questions! πŸ˜‰

    Since Jim and later also the Bishop lived for some time exclusively on fast-food I wonder if you enjoy that too every once in a while?
    In the German books that fast-food automated-restaurant was called McSchwein’s named by its founder Angus McSchwein. I’d like to know how its originally called. McSwine’s?

    You brought us the porcuswine and in The SSR sings the blues a Sheep–goat. I am not sure how its called in English, but the German book called it a ‘Schiege’ which is a mix of Schaf(sheep) and Ziege(goat).
    And while I generally think the porcuswine is more lovely (and makes for the more yummy burger) the “shoat”(?) also made a fine horse in the book. Definitely an advantage over the porcuswine (I do not even dare to imagine how rinding on one would be!).
    So do you think genetic engineering is a good thing or that mankind should better not play around with ‘God’s creation’?

    Which character in all the Rat-books and also in all of your work as the most of Harry Harrison. Which is the one you’d say “Yep, that is pretty much me.”?

    In the future world of ‘Rebel in Time’ not even the hero realizes first what the villain wanted to say when he almost spoke the ‘N-word’, cos racism wasn’t really know anymore.
    Do you have hope that one day mankind will evolve beyond prejudices?

    Slippery Jim saved the world, the universe, traveled time, visited parallel universes, fought the strangest aliens, experienced mind control and marriage too πŸ˜‰ and robbed banks, shattered governments, became president, knows how to become friend with porcuswines, the lost could go on and on. Is there anything book-worthy left you can think off he hasn’t done yet?

    • Paul Tomlinson Says:

      Oddly enough, Harry and I were talking about going out for a burger today, but the town we’re in has no McDonald’s, no Burger King, and no Wimpy — who would have thought such a place could exist? It’s like some kind of parallel universe… imagine a German town with no bratwurst. πŸ™‚

      Ask as many questions as you like, but don’t be surprised if you get some more in return… πŸ˜‰

      • Burin Bache Says:

        Haha, a German town with no Bratwurst would most likely be no German one. πŸ˜€
        No McDonald’s is really a little strange nowadays. A few years ago there has been such places here too tho…
        Generally its very common here. Burger King a lot less. In fact I never ate at one. There was none as long as I used to eat fast food sometimes and I stopped eating such things long before we got one. Wimpy is not in Germany (cos its owned by those who also own Burger King I heard). Even Pizza Hut failed here. Too many Italian restaurants and Turkish diner where you can get pizza and doner kebab and such.
        Because the name McDonald’s sounds so Scottish cos of the ‘Mc’ you can say here “Let’s go have some Scottish food.” for eating at McDonald’s. πŸ˜‰

        Well, I think so far it was a fair deal. πŸ˜‰ But I am afraid I will run out of questions way earlier than Harry.

        So just one single more for today:
        In The SSR sings the Blues you made Jim being a musician/pop-star. What is you favorite music…maybe when working?

        Just watched the movie ‘Inception’. Great visuals/special effects and a story that could be based on some Philip K. Dick story.
        A sci-fi movie I’d recommend.

  9. Burin Bache Says:

    Did not really worked on anymore questions yet, but here is one I forgot previously:
    Since you wrote a lot alternate world stories that play in the past which would be the time you’d like to live in if you could choose any?
    A Stars and Stripes past or a Rat-alike far future? πŸ˜‰
    And just in case you’re going to ask me this question right back: Since I read Alfred Bester’s short story “Hobson’s Choice” I no longer really think it would be as good as in my imagination to live in another time. While some medieval past could be pretty adventurous I guess (IF I’d be a rich noble-man) I’d prefer a distant future anytime (yeah, and probably ending up as a curiosity in a zoo). πŸ˜‰

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