Harry Harrison passed away in the last day or so. He lived long (born 1925) but will be much missed. His official website has been overwhelmed with tributes. I came to him quite late, with Skyworld in 1981, the third book after Homeworld and Wheelworld both of which I immediately ran out and bought from Forbidden Planet in, I think, New Oxford Street, London.
In the late 1940s Harrison started as an artist, studying at the Cartoonists and Illustrators school with an astonishing array of the great paperback and comic illustrators of his time: Roy Krenkel, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, John Severin and Mike Esposito amongst them. Later he and Wally Wood worked together, illustrating many of the EC horror, science fiction and fantasy comic titles. He even worked in the same studio of the legendary Frank Frazetta so his pedegree for the fantastic by the time of his first novel in the early 1960s, Deathworld, was well established. The Stainless Steel Rat, probably his most popular character started as a short story in ‘Astounding Fiction’ Magazine and went on to populate another 12 novels. As with many of his pulp predecessors Harrison’s novels started as serial fiction in the pulps, with Deathworld appearing in ‘Astounding Fiction’ in 1957. Harrison was an imaginative and inspirational writer whose colourful, inventive worlds will live in the foundations of science fiction forever.