Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Harry Harrison - March 12, 1925 - August 15, 2012

Science Fiction has lost another Grand Master.  Harry Harrison died at the age of 87. For those who don’t know who he was, Harry Harrison created the Stainless Steel Rat series, Bill the Galactic Hero, and that Charlton Heston movie “Soylent Green,” was based on his novel, “Make Room! Make Room!”

I met, or rather saw Harry Harrison once when the World Con was last held in Toronto.  He was a panelist and getting ready to sit when an older gentlemen came up to the Grand Master, smiling and started talking in German.  Mr. Harrison returned the smile, shook the man’s hand and said, “Yes, of course, I remember you.”

The rest of the conversation was essentially nods and some broken English. Coming from a European heritage, I’m very familiar with such conversations, and this one stuck in my head over the years because it could have gone a very different way.  I’ve seen rude brush offs, uncomfortable silences, and comical attempts to communicate using sign language or just speaking loud and slow.

There was none of this.  The two men seemed to have a kind of fannish bond and it wasn’t so much that Mr. Harrison politely waited until the German fellow took his seat, but that he enjoyed that brief time being in each other’s presence.

I’m probably reading too much into it, but it was one of those moments you only get at a World Con, and one I will always remember.

Mike

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