You will recall I was AWOL, on a quest to finally read a few of the doorstoppers that had arrived with me recently. Well, Forge of Darkness is defeated, I'm about halfway through The Twelve as we speak, and next up, Great North Road.
I'm really pleased to have taken the time to do this thing, and I'll have much more to say about the experience at a later date... but today I wanted to take a time out from my time out, because I woke to some very sad news.
This morning, Harry Harrison passed on. As yet, we don't know from what. But it doesn't really matter, does it? He was 87, and I need not add that he'll be missed by many. Not just by friends and family members, but also by the legions of readers of his various series, including the saga of the Stainless Steel Rat.
I see Harry Harrison also wrote the novel which inspired Soylent Green, a landmark genre movie if ever there was one.
Harry Harrison was a formative author for me, but oddly not because I read terribly many of his books. Tell you who did, though: my bloody mother! Here on the blog we've talked before about her particular influence on my habits and hobbies — about her fondness for Outlander and A Wizard of Earthsea, amongst other fantastic fictions. Another of her favourites, inherited I think from her father in turn, was West of Eden, by the late, great creator.
I read it, then, on her recommendation. But so long ago now that my memories of it are misty. That said, I remember it being brilliant; I remember that it was a book that underscored my burgeoning interest in fantasy and science fiction; I remember remembering it again and again over the years, and vowing to read it again when I realised that my memories revolved around remembering it rather than the thing itself.
Predictably, perhaps, I didn't. But what better time to right that wrong than now?
Let me open to floor to those of you who have fond memories of the man, or the books he spent his life writing. Do you have a favourite from his vast back catalogue? Was anyone lucky enough to meet or hear him in person, I wonder? He gave the world so much good — let's take this time to give a bit back.
Rest in peace, Harry Harrison.