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Sci-fi writer Harry Harrison, whose book inspired movie 'Soylent Green,' dies at 87

By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley and Chris Kokenes, CNN
updated 10:44 PM EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Harrison's book "Make Room! Make Room!" inspired the movie
  • He authored 12 novels about the "Stainless Steel Rat"
  • He started as an illustrator and wrote for "Flash Gordon"

New York (CNN) -- Popular science-fiction author Harry Harrison, whose book "Make Room! Make Room!" was the basis for the 1973 film "Soylent Green," about a futuristic society and its fictional food, has died, his publisher said Wednesday. He was 87.

Born in 1925 in Stamford, Connecticut, Harrison was best known for his 12 novels about the futuristic character "Slippery Jim" DeGriz, also known as the Stainless Steel Rat. Harrison also was the main writer for the "Flash Gordon" comic strip during the 1950s and '60s, according to his publisher, Tor Books.

Harrison started his career as an illustrator before switching to writing. He is a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

"He believed science fiction was important, that it caused people to think about our world and what it could become," Tor Books' publisher Tom Doherty wrote in a blog post.

On learning of his death, fiction author Harlan Ellison said, "It's a day without stars in it."

Ellison, who says he knew Harrison since 1952, said the author was one of the funniest guys who ever lived.

"Harry was one of those who you thought would go on forever like a wind-up toy," Ellison told CNN.

Harrison's death comes after notable science fiction author Ray Bradbury passed away in June.

Tributes to Harrison poured in on Twitter after his death was announced.

"Thank you for sharing your mind, kind sir!" wrote @hijadecano on Twitter.

"Heaven has to make room, make room for Harry Harrison," wrote @petdance.

Tor Books will be publishing Harrison's memoir in December, according to a spokesperson for the publisher.

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