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Bill the Galactic Hero (Sf Stainless Steel Rat Series) Hardcover – May 22, 2001

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Simply the funniest Science Fiction book ever written." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Harry Harrison was born Henry Maxwell Dempsey in Connecticut, in 1925. He is the author of a number of much-loved series including the Stainless Steel Rat and Bill the Galactic Hero sequences and the Deathworld Trilogy. He is known as a passionate advocate of Esperanto, the most popular of the constructed international languages, which appears in many of his novels. He published novels for over half a century and is perhaps best known for his seminal novel of overpopulation, MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM!, which was adapted into the cult film SOYLENT GREEN. He died in 2012. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Sf Stainless Steel Rat Series
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: I Books (May 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743423763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743423762
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By USAF Veteran VINE VOICE on May 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be a science fiction fan to like this book. There are no long, technical discussions of imaginary future technologies nor does the human race become different than it is now. What this book does as well or better than any other book is provide hilarious commentary on war and government as it follows the adventures of an everyman named Bill as he is drafted, sent to war, lied to, cheated and abused by every institution and bureacrat he comes in contact with. (Kind of reminds you of modern-day civilization, doesn't it?)
The simple plot follows a farm laborer named Bill as he is tricked into joining the army in a future inter-galactic war. I first read this book as a teen-ager and loved it though of course the military and the government were really our friends and not run by nut-cases concerned only with their own advancement as in the book. Well, re-reading this 30 years later after 4 years active duty and 5 in the reserves (They don't tell you that you can never leave the military if your specialty is needed when you try to resign) I find that this "satire" is a lot closer to the real military than almost any sincere book you can think of. Almost every ridiculously improbable military event in the book reminded me of similar real-life occurrences I participated in or heard about.
All in all, this book is entertaining and forces you to laugh even as identical monstrously wrong things happen in your own life. And, in case you're wondering, Bill does not triumph over the system, but ends up one more victim of bureaucracy and civilization.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tyler DeLisle on September 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book back in Junior High, where some relative had most likely picked it up at a used book store and it some how made its way into my basement. When I read it then, it was one of the first books that I loved from the very first page, all the way through to the end. I also fondly remember it as the first book to make me laugh out loud. Now, 4 or 5 years later I have managed to find the book again and buy it new, and I love it just as much as I did the first time, if not more.
The story follows the life of a humble farmer and how he gets manipulated into joining the army of the future and the many misfortunes that follow. It's basically a satire on the future, civilization, and the military. Don't let this books cheesy cover or silly name disuade you, its worth every penny. And now that I have found out there are sequels to follow, i'm one happy man. In the same vein as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and even Kurt Vonnegut, this game is one hillarious treasure.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ventura Angelo on February 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the unacknowleged treasures of Science-Fiction. It's funny, biting, and to the point .It's crisp satire who dared touch sacred icons of Science Fiction like Asimov's Foundations (The planet in the central episode is clearly Trantor)and Heinlein's Starship Troopers. A little gem.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kresnels on April 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I went to a Terry Pratchett book signing, and during the Q & A he mentioned that reading Bill The Galactic Hero forever altered the way he looked at fiction. I got a used copy and had high hopes for the laughs to come.
Boy, did they! Harry Harrison turns so many outworn cliches of science fiction and rocket pulp on their ear you'll get a crick in your neck. I laughed regularly through the whole thing, with some really good ones in the middle.
BTGH is the story of a backwoods farmboy who is shanghaied into military service because he looks just the type - big and strong, but dumber than a plant. During his training period, however, we find that our hero is quicker to notice things that we expected, and learns valuable lessons that are easily applicable to life, especially if you have a job you hate. To wit:
1) Shut up.
2) When the going gets tough, it'll get worse.
3) Never, ever, ever volunteer.
4) and Shut up.
Bill is slung through various attempts on his life in the course of military service, is awarded hero status, then promptly criminalized for missing his transport (because he gets lost, and there's a map, it's a long story) and gets wrapped up in a secret organization trying to take over the government, but he's working for the government as an informant, and all he really wants to do is get back to being a Fertilizer technician.
And I didn't even mention the war with the Chingers.
This book is a very quick read, and very entertaining, and required reading for any Terry Pratchett fan. I gave it four stars, beacuse it's the first in a series, and I really dislike having to read books in order, especially if there's more than two. But if you like your fiction with a good satiric twist, and non-stop, panic-addled action, find a used copy like I did, and give Bill the Galactic Hero a try.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Skubinna on February 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
Forget the series written (much later) with a co author, they are labored and derivative. This book proves that some originals are too good to ever be repeated. While it's overly tempting to read this solely as a "reply" to Heinlein's Starship Troopers (which in part it certainly is), it manages to skewer almost every cliche and convention of vintage SF. Even Asimov's Foundation Series, represented by the planet covering imperial capital gets a gentle tweak, as a question possibly never considered by Asimov himself is examined, to wit: in a planet sized city, who takes out the garbage? Still bitingly fresh and irreverent, it's harder today to understand the impact this book had when published 30-odd years ago, before it occurred to anyone that SF could be funny. But read it as an original and a trailblazer. It's a gem.
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