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Sci-fi author Harry Harrison dies at 87

LONDON -- American author Harry Harrison, whose space-age spoofs delighted generations of science fiction fans, has died, a friend said Wednesday. He was 87.

Irish sci-fi writer Michael Carroll said he learned of Harrison's passing from the author's daughter, Moira. He said Harrison died in southern England, but didn't have much further detail.

Harrison was a prolific writer whose works ranged from tongue-in-cheek intergalactic action romps to dystopian fantasies, with detours through children's stories and crime capers.

Carroll said most of the works delivered a stream of sly humor with a big bucket of action.

"Imagine 'Pirates of the Caribbean' or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and picture them as science fiction novels," he said. "They're rip-roaring adventures, but they're stories with a lot of heart."

Harrison was best known for his "The Stainless Steel Rat" series, starring the free-spirited anti-hero Slippery Jim DiGriz, a quick-witted con man who travels the universe swindling humans, aliens and robots alike. His 1966 work, "Make Room! Make Room!" -- a sci-fi take on the horrors of overpopulation -- inspired the 1973 film "Soylent Green" starring Charlton Heston.

Born in Stamford, Conn., in 1925, Harrison's long career made him one of science fiction's leading writers. He turned out more than 70 books and short stories. Among them was "Bill, the Galactic Hero" a send-up of Robert Heinlein's hard-edged "Starship Troopers," and "The Technicolor Time Machine," which took aim at Hollywood.

Harrison's publisher, Tom Doherty, described him as an illustrator, an anthologist, a critic and a friend.

"In 'The Stainless Steel Rat' and 'Bill, The Galactic Hero' he created two of the great comic series of the genre. In 'Make Room! Make Room!' he made us consider the consequences of overpopulation and overconsumption of the world's resources," Doherty said in a statement. "He believed science fiction was important, that it caused people to think about our world and what it could become."

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