Science fiction author Harry Harrison has passed away. No details have been released, but they are rarely important.

A lot of you may not know Harry Harrison’s work, which is unfortunate. While he did have a couple of novels in the last decade, most of his work is older than that, with his career spanning over fifty years. He is best remembered by science fiction fans for his Stainless Steel Rat series, a collection of novels and stories chronicling the far future adventures of “Slippery Jim” DiGriz, a criminal turned government agent. They are great fun and I recommend them. In popular culture, his most notorious contribution is a little book called Make Room, Make Room that many will know better for the film it inspired: Soylent Green.

All good, but not why I mention his passing here.

In 1972, Harrison wrote a book called Tunnel Through the Deeps (also called A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!) that has been justifiably described as proto-Steampunk. Rather than take place in Victorian times, the book is set in an alternate 1973, in which the United States never gained independence. The British Empire is still alive and well and descendants of George Washington (in this world, an infamous traitor) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel (still the 19th century mastermind of big mechanical engineering) are working together to build a transatlantic tunnel.

Harry Harrison, you will be missed.