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The Misplaced Battleship

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Before becoming an editor, Harrison started in the science fiction field as an illustrator, notably with EC Comics’ two science fiction comic books, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science. A large number of his early short stories were first published under house pseudonyms such as ‘Wade Kaempfert’. Harrison also wrote for syndicated comic strips, creating the ‘Rick Random’ character. Harrison is now much better known for his writing, particularly his humorous and satirical science fiction, such as the Stainless Steel Rat series and the novel Bill, the Galactic Hero (which satirises Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers). During the 1950s and 60s he was the main writer of the Flash Gordon newspaper strip. One of his Flash Gordon scripts was serialized in Comics Revue magazine. Harrison drew sketches to help the artist be more scientifically accurate, which the artist largely ignored. Not all of Harrison’s writing is comic, though. He has written many stories on serious themes, of which by far the best known is the classic novel about overpopulation and consumption of the world’s resources Make Room! Make Room! which was used as a basis for the science fiction film Soylent Green (though the film changed the plot and theme). Harrison for a time was closely identified with Brian Aldiss and the pair collaborated on a series of anthology projects. Harrison and Aldiss did much in the 1970s to raise the standards of criticism in the field. Harrison is a writer of fairly liberal worldview. Harrison’s work often hinges around the contrast between the thinking man and the man of force, although the “Thinking Man” often needs ultimately to employ force himself.

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