Harry Harrison Tribute by Moira Harrison

Portrait of Harry Harrison by Bill Sanderson

Harry Harrison by Bill Sanderson

 

My father was an amazingly talented man. Even when my brother Todd and I were young he used to make up “Grand Uncle Buggy Car” stories to tell us at night. He made them up on the spot and they were always very funny. Together with my mother, Joan, he took us around the world, covering 27 countries by the time I was 13. He called himself a citizen of the world and so we became these true citizens, calling any country we lived in, home.

He was a prolific, hard working author, every day of his life he went into his office and worked. Even in his eighties he felt guilty if he took a day off. Over the last two years he suffered from deteriorating health but he never gave up fighting to live and write. The day before he died, he called the doctor a pessimist for telling him he was dying. He finished his memoirs only days before he died.

A few years ago, my husband Mark and I had the privilege to accompany him on a trip to Moscow. I witnessed firsthand the magnitude of esteem he was held in there. He dearly loved his Russian and Ukrainian fans, their love and respect touched him deeply and I would especially like to thank those fans for their enduring support and their kind words that are flooding in daily.

His struggle is now over, his physical pain ended but his memory and legacy of his work will live on and continue to inspire, entertain and comfort thousands around the world. We will miss him, he was a technicolor man and the world and our lives today are more monochrome due to his passing.

Moira Harrison

25 Responses to “Harry Harrison Tribute by Moira Harrison”

  1. Martin Tel Says:

    my condolences , youre father was a great man
    i am very thankful for his great story”s he wrote
    i wish you a lot of strength in this difficult time

  2. Tom Says:

    Here’s a man who was generations ahead of his time. A bright light in the endless gloom of humankind.

    Here’s to you, Harry.

    Eternal love from Belgium

  3. Andrew Kendall Says:

    My favourite author. He gave me many hours of tremendous entertainment for which I am eternally grateful. He had the greatest talent – that of being able to bring light and enjoyment into other peoples worlds. Thanks Harry from the bottom of my world!

  4. Astrid Anderson Bear and Greg Bear Says:

    Moira and Todd — we are so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. We both have many happy memories of times spent with him, both in person and with his writings. Greg’s tribute, posted to his website, is copied below. There are also some pictures of Harry from 2004 on the website, Gregbear.com

    HARRY HARRISON

    A life well lived.

    That was apparent about Harry Harrison even when a gaggling, goggling bunch of San Diego fans became aware of his august presence in Imperial Beach in the late 1960s. We descended upon him, pestered him and his wife, Joan, asked stupid questions, learned at his feet.

    He enjoyed it all hugely, and so did we.

    Harry was a consummate professional writer, we’d rea…d his books, and with little or no hesitation, he welcomed us into his home–many who would go on to help found San Diego Comic-Con, but at that point were truly snot-nosed kids, full of opinions–which Harry was perfectly happy to listen to, then gently but firmly correct. He and Joan sponsored fabulous curry dinners, held forth at local conventions, invited my friend David Clark and me, destitute fans, to join them for dessert during the banquet and awards ceremony at the 1968 Baycon… Held court with visiting dignitaries–including Harry’s good friend Brian Aldiss–and, in 1970, taught a pioneering class in science fiction at San Diego State College.

    His manner–a lively machine-gun delivery of well-chosen words–was so distinctive that we all had our imitations. His accessibility, example, and savoir faire helped shape my life.

    Harry Harrison’s CV was very full indeed. Besides his many striking novels and stories, he had worked as an artist for EC Comics, and so fit right into the future Comic-Con crowd. He had traveled extensively in Europe, spoke a number of languages well enough to get around and order food and beer, loved world literature, joined the Science Fiction Writers of America–and then left–multiple times…

    Wonderful man, fine writer. Vivid, high-energy opinions. Strong influence.

    And I’m proud to say, friend and colleague.

    I’ll post a few photos from the 2004 Science Fiction Hall of Fame ceremonies in Lawrence, Kansas, the last time I got together with both Brian and Harry.

    Condolences to all who knew and loved him.

  5. Dave Zuckerman Says:

    Your father’s books meant a great deal to me as a confused adolescent. His stories, adventures told with tongue firmly in cheek, made me smile, made me imagine, and gave me the courage to be creative and find my own voice. Now in my 40s, I use that voice daily as a professor and writer. I most certainly count Harry Harrison as one of my professors, albeit one I never had the honor of meeting personally.

  6. Ian Egan Says:

    I was plowing through a stack of books at a garage sale one summer day when I was about 12 years old, & came across the novel- the first in the series- called “A Stainless Steel Rat.” “Slippery Jim” DeGriz, was a wonderful character who survived many great adventures across the Universe. He was clever & witty, & I spent many afternoons after school completely engrossed in the series. As a voracious reader of scifi & fantasy, your Father was a genius to me. Rest In Peace, Sir… and thank you for those golden endless hours of entertainment in my youth. I’m a better writer because of you.

  7. Aki Seerose Says:

    My husband is a sci-fi writer today in large part to your fathers work. He was a great source of inspiration and encouragement to both of us. We will miss him terribly. Please know he was loved by many all over the world and will be sorely missed.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    my sincere condolences to his family.

    He was a great source of advice, humor, inspiration and encouragement for many people in the world. As example, his advice “Turn the problem on its head” worked marvelous many times for my own science work.

    He will ever in our minds.

    Rest in peace from Germany

    Dr. Hubert Otte

  9. "Orange Mike" Lowrey Says:

    Everybody who ever met him or read his works mourns with you, Moira. On those rare occasions I met him, he was always ready to chat in Esperanto or English, and was invariably the same intelligent, witty, decent man you’d guess him to be from his writings.

    Ĝis la revido, samideano kara!

  10. Andrew Holden Says:

    I am going to miss this wonderful man, so full of stories! My thoughts go to you and your family.

  11. Toivo Says:

    He is a wonderful man, I loved his books including the ‘Stainless Steel Rats ‘ (and the ‘DeathWorld) series. I always was on the lookout for his latest books , I have many of them and will keep and treasure nthe. My condolences, I am 67 years old and was readin his novels as a teenager right up until now.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  12. Fan from Australia Says:

    His books were such a wonderful world in which I spent many happy hours. I am waiting for the day that my sons start reading and I shall pass on my love for his work to the next generation. Thank you Mr Harrison your characters still live within my imagination.

  13. m.l. elrick Says:

    Harry Harrison ignited in me a love for science fiction and literature in general. His subversive and often subtle humor both delighted me and inspired me. His healthy skepticism for authority is a trait I share and use every day in my work as an investigative reporter. I am glad to hear he completed his memoirs and I look forward to reading them someday! I had read that he was living in Northern Ireland around the time I worked at a youth hostel in Killarney. I don’t know whether that is true, but one of my life’s regrets is that I never tried to find him and knock on his door. Not to pester him or share any of my dreadful writing, but simply to say hello and express my admiration. He seems like the kind of man who would have said thanks and invited you in for a cup of tea. While he now rests in peace, his work lives on in my mind and my imagination. My condolences to you and your family.

  14. sabrina Says:

    In terms of the span of Harry’s life I knew him for a heartbeat. For the last 2 years I helped care for him. I did not know of Harry before we met but he was instantly a very impressionable man. In the early days I thought,now this is a guy with a story to tell! As I increasingly became aware of who he was and all his attributes I came to a decision. That despite incredible curiosity I would not consciously endevour to read his books I would otherwise have probably not discovered for a while or possibly at all anyway. This was because I did not want to influence what was already blossoming into a great relationship, I was there for him and all his needs, I did not want to change that by maybe becoming a fan,as that may have altered the way I interacted with him. I think Harry liked this, and it aloud him to engage with me more wholly.
    He had characteristics I simply fell in love with. Despite what appeared to be his sometimes begrudging and comically grumpy,stubborn, assertive ways. There was a sweetness which transcended and shone as bright as any star.
    His modesty and honesty were admirable. A unique soul, full of dry wit and a bountiful of tales. He once told me that words are all we have. A quote he had great faith in, a wise concept I am sure of which has and will continue to reverberate across lifetimes. Yet towards the end, simply holding his hand possessed as much power any words could.

    Gosh Harry! Now your gone I’m going to have to actually invest in a dictionary. You knew everything I ever asked and more.The inviolable void you have left is insatiable!(I tried to use big words to convey how I feel,hope your proud!)

    I feel humbled to have know Harry and to have been a part of his life, however brief. At first I knew him as a client. Then as a friend. Perhaps now I shall finally satisfy my curiosity and also adore him as a fan!

    With much love and respect,
    Sabrina

    • Cedric Knight Says:

      Thanks Sabrina for sharing your personal experience of Harry’s last years. Like many SF fans, I knew him from a completely opposite angle, only meeting him once or twice 25 years ago at the Brighton Worldcon, but appreciating his erudition, spirit and humour through his writings. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people won’t read his work as short non-literary SF works are nowadays an unpopular form; because what he was saying will stand the test of time. The Deathworld series for example showed an early ecological sensibility. He had those characteristics, intelligence, imagination, honesty and humanity, that make for not just a great SF writer, but a great writer in any genre. Adiaŭ, Harry.

      Condolences to family and friends.

  15. Derek Pearce Says:

    I have only just heard about Harry’s passing.

    His Stainless Steel Rat books were the reason I started to read Science Fiction books, a past time that has provided innumerable hours of pleasure. He was also the reason I became intersted in Esperanto and his humor, intelligence and thoughts made me question my world and seek my own answers. In a suble way he helped make me the man I am today.

    He will be missed but the “Rat” will live with me forever. Thank You.

  16. Michael Decker Says:

    Every time I re read one of Mr. Harrison’s stories, especially The Stainless Steel Rat tales, it was like visiting an old friend. His works entertained me for years and years, and will continue to entertain me in the future. Thank you Harry for sharing with us your wonderful, beautiful, and often humorous imagination. Knowing that your story is now done fills me with tremendous sadness, but remembering the joy you brought to me brings a grin to my face.
    Thanks Harry.

  17. buidl-lemmy Says:

    Maybe stainless steel rats don’t cry – but I do .. This world lost a man with humor and a creator of worlds. So time to say good bye .. and say thank you Mr. Harrison and thanks to his family for supporting him and gave him the environment to enchant us outside with fantastic stories.

    Bye from Germany

    Stefan and Family

  18. Maddie Henson Says:

    Harry Harrison was quite simply one of the greatest authors who ever lived.

    Thank you Mr Harrison the years of joy reading about the adventures of slippery Jim.

    Condolences to all of the family.

  19. Jon Woodard Says:

    Moira,

    My condolences and sympathy to you and your family. Your father opened my eyes in ways I never expected. I reflect on the thoughts of his written words every day. In my case, that has been a good and important thing, and for that I thank him.

    Your tribute is comforting to all those who have and will continue to enjoy his works and the fantastic worlds he created.

    Regards,
    Jon Woodard

  20. Austin Wright Says:

    I sent an email to Harry about a month ago. I was thanking him for the stainless steel rat books. My condolences. He passed away 2 days before my birthday. I didn’t know till today. Nor did I know he was ill. A brilliant man, terrific novels. Funny and creative his novels provide entertainment. Harry Harrison is my favorite novelist. I have read many of his other books. It was only by chance 15 years ago my sister bought me a novel at a greyhound bus station for a long trip. It made me laugh and get to know Harry. I will always miss him. I would have loved to meet him in person and just say thanks. Thank you Harry. Thanks so much. I lost my father one year ago last month. It is hard to go through. God bless.

  21. Ron laird Says:

    Simply my favourite author.will be sorely missed.the worlds a darker place without him.

  22. Austin Wright Says:

    My father passed away only months before your father. He passed his name on to me. So I find myself remembering my father and what he taught me. I will always cherish the learning about society from Harry’s novels as well as my own father. Whenever I read one of your father’s novels it was like listening to my father. I always wanted to meet him. I feel that I got to know him well from his novels though. The humour and learning from your father’s books was funny and entertaining as well as inspirational.

  23. P.J.. Goode Says:

    For Moira… we remember with great affection you and your parents living in Dublin and Wicklow, and the conventions and talks organised by Harry. They were the best of years for us as an association of Irish sf fans, and how we missed him when you all moved overseas.
    Sad to say, I’ve only just found out about his passing.
    I’ll never forget the first time I saw him at one of our meetings, Anne McCaffrey introduced him in glowing terms, he sashayed in to the room to great applause and sashayed out again straight away.!
    I think he enjoyed his years with us in Ireland, he was proud of his Dempsey roots and frequently mentioned them.
    I think it was in the 1970s I first met him, and I wish I had the chance to have a chat with him in his senior years (and mine) but that was not to be.
    Goodbye Harry and slan leat.
    P.J. Goode

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