Archive for September, 2010

Quick Update

14 September, 2010

I’m back home now after my two weeks in Harryville. I have lots to catch up on here, and several hours of interviews still to transcribe!

I have two lots of Burin’s questions which I also still have to transcribe the answers to — I’ll try and get them posted here before the end of the week, along with a few other bits of news that I haven’t had chance to post yet.

Thanks to everyone who posted questions during the last fortnight — it was great to be able to ask Harry these questions as they came in. Please continue to let me have questions as they occur to you, as I’m sure Harry will be happy to answer them — I’ll either get answers from him by e-mail or save them up for another recorded interview when I see him again in a couple of months.

I got home to find that my copy of The Stainless Steel Rat Returns! audio book had arrived — seven hours in mp3 format on one CD. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but will post a review once I have.


Revenge of the Stainless Steel Writer

5 September, 2010

I wasn’t planning on doing another post today, but chatting with Harry after Sunday lunch kind of made this extra post necessary…

We got a few more questions from Burin Bache — but I only got as far as asking Harry the first question before things got a little out of hand…

Burin’s question was: Of all the things that the Stainless Steel Rat has done — fighting the gray men, tackling aliens, blowing up the revenue authorities, and driving Inskipp nuts — what is the one thing you’d most like to have done yourself.

Harry Harrison’s answer was: The thing I’d most like to have done myself was to get into Angelina’s knickers!

I was so shocked and appalled by this that I couldn’t continue with the interview… 😉

For those less familiar with colloquial English, Harry’s response didn’t mean that he wanted to dress in Angelina’s underwear, but rather that he would like to have… well, you can work it out, I’m sure.

Our conversation following this eventually turned into a series of questions that Harry Harrison wanted to ask Burin Bache — so here we go, Harry’s revenge on Burin!

(1) What is the equivalent colloquial German phrase for ‘I’d like to get into her knickers’?

(2) Which is your favourite Perry Rhodan book?

(3) Have you read any good German military SF? Which books would you recommend?

(4) What’s the colloquial German term for borborygmus?

(5) What’s your opinion on the use of skeuomorphisms in the design of modern gadgets?

There’s your challenge, Burin, we need your answers before the end of tomorrow… 🙂

The Stainless Steel Podcast Returns!

5 September, 2010

To mark the publication of the new Stainless Steel Rat book, and the launch of a couple of other Rat-related items, here is a short interview with Science Ficion Grand Master Harry Harrison. The interview was conducted by some unemployed hack just a couple of days ago… 😉

SSR Returns Interview

The file is called SSR-Returns-Interview2 because the first time I tried to convert it to mp3 the software produced a file that sounded like two gerbils having an argument in latin.

Angelina vs. Meta – Who would win?

4 September, 2010

I had one more question from Burin Bache – whose name I now know how to pronounce!* — he asked: What is the Bishop’s real name? I asked Harry, who said he could tell me, but then I’d never leave the room alive. So I didn’t insist on knowing the answer.

If you don’t know who the Bishop is, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

Today’s guest interviewers are J.B. Coldwell and Ben Sugden, who are – I think – from West Yorkshire in the UK, or at least originally from that neck of the woods.

BS: Why did you decide to stop writing the Deathworld series?

HH: I really had no more material; I exploited the idea to the ultimate – I gave the characters all the problems and they solved them all. Also, I didn’t want to do that forever, the way that some writers do. The Stainless Steel Rat is different – I’ve done eleven of those, but spread over a period of forty or fifty years, and all those books are completely different, even though the character is the same.

BS: Was there ever a plan for an English-language Deathworld 4, perhaps based on ‘The Mothballed Spaceship’ short story?

HH: I’m afraid not – what you see is what you get, so make the most of it!

BS: Is there any possibility of a Stainless Steel Rat or Deathworld movie in the short to medium term?

HH: It’s a great idea, I love it, I wish they would, they’re optioned. We have to have patience. I’ve had to be patient for 25 years, so I’m the same as you too.

BS: Which actors would you like to see play Jim and Angelina in a movie?

HH: It’s been optioned for so long that all the choice actors have died off! Very early on we were trying to get Steve McQueen, who would have made a very, very good Rat. But he snuffed it. One guy who had an option on it wanted to have a black actor play the Rat, but the option lapsed. It’s hard to say. Chances are we’d be better with a new, good actor. The older good actors are now on crutches! It would be like John Wayne with his pot belly running, you know!

BS: Do you have a favourite actress you’d like to see play Angelina?

HH: No, again its the same thing. In some ways its a very difficult role, because it has to be very physical, yet very feminine at the same time. The actress who was in The Producers and Kill Bill 1 and 2, Uma Thurman, was very good. She was very feminine – especially in The Producers where she gets her clothes off – there was a lot of girl there!

BS: And which actors would you like to see play Jason in Deathworld?

HH: Same thing as with Jim, it would require somebody new. You want the character to walk into a scene and establish himself as an individual.

BS: In a fight between Angelina and Meta (from Deathworld), who would win?

HH: I’m afraid my money would be on the Deathworld girl. They’re both pretty good, but she comes from a heavier planet, so she’s used to moving in twice the gravity so she has bigger muscles. Angelina has plenty of smarts, but the other one is a good cruncher!

BS: Have you seen the Ocean’s Eleven remake with George Clooney? Do you think his character is like the Stainless Steel Rat?

HH: He’s too old for the job!

JBC: How do you think you have influenced the field of science fiction?

HH: For the better I hope! I did invent steampunk, that’s first. I also worked hard to have an anti-military element in my books… I suppose I’ve tried to adult-ise the field. Science fiction was always a young boys’ fiction, even in John Campbell’s magazine.

JBC: Have you ever seen a character in a movie or on tv and thought that they reminded you of one of your own characters?

HH: No, they’re all figments of my imagination. With the possible exception of Steve McQueen… but that’s pretty rare. I don’t really set out to specify black hair or big eyes or… I try to keep it very general so that every reader can imagine himself in the role. It’s very important for the reader to identify with the hero.


* It’s like the last part of Chewbacca, but you have to clear your throat between the two c’s…  😉

What’s the Answer?

2 September, 2010

PT: The first question today is from someone calling himself CryptoJack, who I know is from Russia because he says, When is Harry Harrison coming to Moscow again?

HH: I’ve been to Moscow a number of times, but have no plans to visit in the near future… I’m still recovering from the last visit! 🙂

PT: Crypto also says, P.S. The new Stainless Steel Rat book is amazing!

HH: Ah, thank you.

PT: And I have more questions from Burin, who says I didn’t pronounce his name right yesterday, but he hasn’t given me any clues to how it should be pronounced. So I’m now going to hand you over to The Burin Bache Show…

BB: Who are Harry’s 3 most favorite sci-fi writers (besides himself 😉 ) and most favorite sci-fi novels?

HH: That’s a tough one, when many writers are friends too. There’s Brian Aldiss, of course. Then there are a lot of very good writers, most of them sadly departed. There are people who I appreciate for what they’ve done for science fiction, like Robert Heinlein, not my favourite writer, but certainly a seminal writer in the field. And Kurt Vonnegut – I do appreciate good writing, which is pretty rare in science fiction as you know.

Favourite science fiction novels other than my own? There’s a lot of them, right back to H.G. Wells The Time Machine, which is still a very strong book and holds up well. Slaughterhouse 5 I would put up there because the book is so well written it transcends time and place. His very first book is the best thing he wrote, The Player Piano, it’s very funny, very witty. That’s a very eclectic selection.

BB: What is the book, or series, of his that he considers the the most influential?

HH: Probably Make Room! Make Room! because of the film Soylent Green, which they repeat all the time, and which got a lot of people interested in overpopulation. I had a lot of correspondence about it. One girl said, If I thought the world was going to be like that, I’d commit suicide. I wrote back and said that’s why I wrote it, so that people can change the world, its better than committing suicide.

BB: 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 his favourite real gadget?

HH: Right off I think of the Swiss army knife… with 95 blades in it, that’s the ultimate gadget! If by a gadget we’re talking about something you can hold in your hand, I’ll tell you something that every mechanic, and every farmer, and every person who works on the land has… a buck knife. I wore one all the time in a holster on my belt and used it for everything: it’s more than just a knife. It’s a fairly low tech gadget…

BB: If Harry could pick just one of his novels or short stories which one would he like the most to be turned into a movie by Hollywood?

HH: The Stainless Steel Rat! I’d also like to see a really good job done of The Technicolor Time Machine. When Mel Gibson had an option on The Technicolor Time Machine I really hoped he’d make it – he’d make a really good Viking! He had a screenwriter, Marshall Brickman, who did a really nice screenplay. All actors like to wear fake noses and such, and Brickman knew that if you had him as the Viking only, Mel Gibson wouldn’t appear in the film until reel four, so he also had Gibson cast as the American actor, a ham actor, you know, who breaks his leg and then gets replaced by the Viking. That’s a good idea.

BB: I wonder if Harry is a lil interested in computer games?

HH: I don’t think I’ve played more than one or two games. I find them dreadfully boring. I wrote some games, but I was never really interested in playing them. I did the one game book, You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat…

BB: Would Harry would like to give games another try since he wrote the adventure book?

HH: With a guarantee of money, yes! But without a hunk of cash in front of me, no!

BB: And finally, what is the thing he would like to have done the most but could not either because the technology wasn’t yet available, or because it was a not so legal Rat-thing? 😉

HH: (Laughs) All the science fiction gadgetry I invented I would have liked to have used.

BB: Would you have liked to have a conversation with an artificial intelligence?

HH: Oh yes, who wouldn’t?

BB: Or how about caressing a porcuswine! 😉

HH: Stroking it or petting it, yes – kissing it, no! 🙂


Thanks to today’s guest interviewer, Burin Bache.

If anyone else has any questions, leave them as comments on this post, and I’ll get the answers from HH as soon as I can…

— Paul

Answer Time…

1 September, 2010

Thanks to everyone who posted questions yesterday — hopefully you will find a link to an MP3 of the question and answer session below. I couldn’t do much with the file except trim the beginning and end, and convert it.

If you have more questions, keep them coming and I’ll post the answers here.


— Paul

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