Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Harry Harrison

Goodbye to one of the greats.
Harry Harrison has passed away. The world's the poorer for that.

I had the privilege of being on a panel with Harry at Worldcon in Toronto a few years ago. It was my first ever panel as a writer, in fact. I've been on a lot of panels with a lot of people, but if I tell you that one of the few books I've ever read – and pretty well the only one I ever re-read, and re-read several times over the years -- was Harry's Bill The Galactic Hero, then you'll get some idea of why actually doing a gig with him was a big deal for me. I was 13 when I first read the book (yes, without moving my lips... ) and it never diminished on re-reading. It just got smarter and deeper and more tragically funny. I tracked down a signed hardcover of BTGH and took it with me to Toronto to ask Harry to re-sign it.

He was gracious and funny, and treated me as an equal when it was quite obvious that I wasn't. Another panellist -- an environmental researcher -- grabbed his hand and shook it, and told him that reading one of Harry's books had made him choose the career he did. We weren't selected for the panel because we had a soft spot for Harry. I imagine that whoever the con had put on that panel, they too would have had their own Harry moment to shake his hand for.

It's nice to make money as a writer, but it's even nicer to make a difference. Harry did. We'll miss him.