Bill, the Galactic Hero Paperback – Aug 1989
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"Simply the funniest Science Fiction book ever written." --This text refers to an alternate 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.
Top Customer Reviews
into the military, who encounters bad luck after bad luck, all the while trying desperately to maintain his cheerfulness, indeed his humanity. Harrison tweaks a lot of people in this book--Heinlein's gobbledygook in _Starship Troopers,_ Asimov's Trantor in _Foundation Trilogy_ (who takes out the garbage on a planet completely covered in buildings, with a hundred billion or so people?). This is a funny book, half humor, half
horror, and might be just Harrison's best.
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.
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
I stumbled across this book kind of by accident, and it turned out to be a really fun read. The tone is quite light hearted, but with a slightly cynical social commentary and my... Read morePublished on April 7 2011 by Colin Graham
This is a silly book, without a plot and with carboard characters. The autor tries, without success, to satirize the millitary. Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2004 by Green_goblin
I appreciate that it is a parody, and it was really silly, but I had hoped for a character that wasn't so shallowly written even so. Maybe something similar to Steel Rat. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2003