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Science-fiction readers and Harrison devotees will garner the most pleasure from this heartfelt autobiography.

The life and 60-year career of an award-winning science-fiction writer.

Harrison’s (1925-2012) posthumously published memoir begins with his birth in Depression-era Stamford, Connecticut, and his upbringing in Queens, New York. He only briefly describes his youth before chronicling his drafting into the U.S. Army Air Force, a time which offered little pleasure save for a lecture on the international language of Esperanto, which would endure as a lifelong interest for Harrison. Courting a fascination with both writing and ink illustrations, the author procured work with comic-book publishers (where he honed his “variegated skills”), consorted with industry contemporaries, and went on to edit pulp magazines, leading to his true calling: science fiction. Together with his wife, Joan, Harrison became characteristically nomadic, relocating from city to city, soaking up local culture, freelancing, and eventually growing fidgety in locales like New York, Mexico and Britain. He then spent time fine-tuning novels and writing Flash Gordon scripts in Italy and Denmark, followed by teaching and lecturing in San Diego until a final return to the U.K. The author’s best adventures and opinions can surely be found in this entertainingly animated chronicle. It is through his many physical relocations that the anecdotes, vignettes and sage wisdom flow freely, affording fans an intimate glance into the author’s personality while exposing him as not just a science-fiction writer, but a witty raconteur as well. The author of numerous novels (Make Room! Make Room!), short stories and popular SF series (Stainless Steel Rat), Harrison’s prolific, distinguished oeuvre speaks for itself, as does this witty memoir, which leaves no doubts about who Harrison was, how he lived, and what inspired him to write, explore and imagine.

Science-fiction readers and Harrison devotees will garner the most pleasure from this heartfelt autobiography.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0765333087

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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