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Bill the Galactic Hero (Sf Stainless Steel Rat Series) Hardcover – May 22, 2001
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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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with much of Harry Harrison's work, this is a SciFi page turner. This time, from the point of view of a poor schlub who gets aggressively recruited off a farm on an agricultural... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Geoffrey Anderson
Bill is living his life minding his own business when he gets tricked into enlisting in the military. That’s when things start to go wrong. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Heather E. Hejduk
This was an odd book, and I can only recommend it if you a) really like Harry Harrison, b) you like military parodies, and c) you like odd books. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alan Z
Sort of a scifi version of Catch-22, if it had been written by Kafka.Published 19 months ago by Chris Bierwirth
A simple, mild mannered country bumpkin is coerced into a lifetime of servitude, abuse, humiliation, and mass murder. Alien space bugs/lizards/kangaroos ensue. Read morePublished 19 months ago by John Lawson