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…