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Bill, The Galactic Hero

(Bill, the Galactic Hero #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,961 ratings  ·  174 reviews
It was the highest honor to defend the Empire against the dreaded Chingers, an enemy race of seven-foot-tall lizards. But Bill, a Technical Fertilizer Operator from a planet of farmers, wasn't interested in honor-he was only interested in two things: his chosen career, and the shapely curves of Inga-Maria Calyphigia. Then a recruiting robot shanghaied him with knockout dro ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by iBooks (first published January 1st 1965)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,961 ratings  ·  174 reviews

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Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this book. He walks up to Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and slaps a cream pie in its face. Then he kicks it in the balls and stands back to admire the effect, before setting to work on Isaac Asimov's Foundation. They both had it coming :)

Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a time when men were men and alien Chingers had better watch out.


If Robert Heinlein and Issac Asimov collaborated on a humorous
Space Opera/Trooper novel - this is what they may have written.

Meet Bill, graduate of the Technical Fertilizer college on Phigerinadon II where no more than two interesting events happen every four years until he signs on with the Troopers.

Why are we fighting...?
"The Chingers are the only non-human race that has been discovered in the galaxy that has gone beyond
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a death in my family this week, so reading a funny sci-fi book was both a good and bad idea.

Good because the humor cheered me up; bad because much of the humor was lost on me.

But even with my bias, Bill the Galactic Hero is a fine piece of political sci-fi. Harry Harrison's book is not so much an anti-war manifesto as it is an anti-ridiculousness manifesto.

Harrison just happens to recognize that war, bureaucracy, government, and all those other things that are so much a part of homo
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I once met a woman in a bookstore who was in the process of buying Harry Harrison's 1965 classic "Bill, the Galactic Hero." She told me that she'd read it many times already, and that it was the funniest book ever. Well, I've never forgotten that conversation, and had long been meaning to ascertain whether or not this woman was right. It took me almost 20 years to get around to this book, but having just finished "Bill, the Galactic Hero," I must say that, well, it IS very amusing indeed.

In it,
Scott Rhee
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Harry Harrison wrote "Bill, the Galactic Hero" in 1965. America's failure in the Korean War was starting to be replayed again in the early years of the Vietnam Conflict (Vietnam was a "conflict" before it was a "war", although some historians say it was only a "police action"). The Hippy movement was on the rise. The Sixties were a weird time of Green Berets, Flower Power, Black Panthers, and Free Love. You were either a hippy or a commie-hater. You either enlisted or you got drafted. Either way ...more
Angus McKeogh
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Reading some of the Grandmasters of Science Fiction. Probably not his best. And not so awful I couldn’t finish it. But certainly not the “laugh a page” experience it was made out to be. Just okay. I’ll have to try something in the Stainless Steel Rat series before casting further judgement.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a satire of militarism and bureaucracy, it had lots of ROLFing moments. The problem is, it all plays out in a very “in your face” way, leaving almost everyone as a throwaway caricature. It’s not subtle at what it’s doing, so you can’t see it as a story about people lacking self-awareness. They are more like cartoons written for a joke.

The structure of the plot is also problematic as it goes on. The early part at the army is very fun and well-planned out, as everything seems to progress in an
Bails Williams
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is about Hippies vs. Commie haters. then a cream pie gets thrown in someone's face
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My rating: ★★★★
Text Addict
143 pages is a quick read, and what I actually have is the Berkeley Medallion edition from 1966, which originally cost fifty cents but we paid forty-nine cents for.

Anyway, this is a parody of military SF, in which the "hero" is literally drugged into signing up for the army and the war is going on because humans are naturally warlike. The ship that Bill winds up on is called Christine Keeler, and I looked her up: she was a model and showgirl, and in 1963, her affair with a British government mi
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Pretty entertaining and a poignant anti-draft (anti-government compulsion) novel. While not as outright hilarious or as witty as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Bill, the Galactic Hero draws its humor and wit mainly from a "poor boy get's stuck in the army" story that never felt heavy-handed or burdensome or downright melodramatic like many more 'famous' anti-war novels. I'm not sure if I would even put this in the same category as those (and not just because it is a comedy/scifi): while it de ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book was just a hoot from start to finish. What is most interesting however is both the satirical and dystopian aspect of the book. Harrison takes a bite out of everyone in the book, the hawks and the doves, the officers and the enlisted men, the government bureaucrats and the dumb joes just doing their duty, and probably some of the pulp sci fi he saw in his day.

The dystopian aspect I found is that once Bill learns the "ropes" of one of his predicaments, whether it be a solider recruit, Fu
Milos Pantelic
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dare I say this is the best book I`ve read?
Well... no, but it comes really close.
First, it says quite a lot in a very short space.
And that has to mean something.

When I`ve first read this book, which came more than two and a half decades ago, I saw it as a satirical, a damn humorous vision of hierarchy, politics, and bloody world as it is.
Boy, did I laugh!

I took it with me when I was drafted, right after NATO wiped out my country. Soon after it went viral through my division I`ve met a security
I read this when I was too young to get the humor of the hapless dung farmer Bill, who is drafted, mutilated, and turned into a public "hero" in an interstellar war with lizard aliens.

I suppose it is dark, sardonic satire of the military and government and propaganda. But at the time I just thought it was nastier and nastier, sort of like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" with all of the likeable characters and charm removed.

Perhaps I shall read this again in memory of Harrison, who died
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, funny
I'm not going to waste your time here, this is billed as a humourous science fiction book and I don't recall laughing out loud once. Could be my sense of humour, it's a little suspect, but without the laughs this is only an OK book.
Scott Holstad
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This Starship Troopers/Catch-22 anti-military, anti-war satire is one of the most depressing, bleakest books I have ever read in my life. When I started reading it, I thought, how amusing. How over the top. How funny. Poor Bill. Poor hick. Drugged and forced to enlist as an imperial trooper. Forced to fight in a stupid war he knows nothing about, doing nothing, eating crap, doing useless crap, training for nothing, when in action accidentally saving his ship from obliteration, becoming a hero, g ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
originally posted at:

Bill, the Galactic Hero popped up in the post rather spontaneously, and say for yourself when you see the cover, don't you want to read it? Pay close attention to the left arm (hint). When I opened the book I saw that the story was first published back in 1965. Wow. This was one of his earlier books and having wanting to read some fast paced Science Fiction I knew this book was rightly suited for the task. Bill, the Galactic Hero is a
Leticia Supple
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Years ago, as a Uni student with a library card, I read absolutely every book that Harry Harrison wrote. When I got to the end, I pouted and complained and... couldn't quite believe it.

The reason is because Bill the Galactic Hero is the greatest space hero that there ever was. The world that Harry Harrison created was ridiculous and believable all at once. And it's more than a little bit like Star Wars. In fact, there is even a set of twins from Alderaan.

And so, having recently acquired a first
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a long time, I thought I had read this book about 30 years ago, and that it was sub-par. It turns out that what I read was Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of the Robot Slaves, the second book in the series, and published in 1989.

This is a fantastic satire of the volunteer-military, with passing shots at a few other sci-fi classics (Foundation, R.U.R.) and the Red Scare. It is by no means an intelligent or even very clever satire, but Harrison clearly had fun packing in all those backgr
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book significantly less humorous than the one-liners put into the title character's mouth in R.G. Wingfield's A Touch of Frost, which I read recently. One of the problems is Bill is an unfocused character. At the start he's a simpleton, then he becomes considerably more savvy in a short time, but I didn't see any transition. He initially reminded me of Candide (from a book which is also much funnier), but in a short time he didn't remind me of anyone. The supporting characters rapid ...more
Ari Brin
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor
Quite funny in some parts, and an effective satirical, anti-war response to the problematic Starship Troopers. Unfortunately, the humor is uneven and can be summed up with: despicable people doing despicable things. There is no moral compass in this novel, and some would say that's the point: that all concepts of morality are voided in warfare. But the the book ultimately suffers from this. There is nothing to root for, nothing good. We don't even particularly like Bill. What's left is a loose c ...more
John Lawson
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy, humor
A simple, mild mannered country bumpkin is coerced into a lifetime of servitude, abuse, humiliation, and mass murder. Alien space bugs/lizards/kangaroos ensue.

This book was a lot of fun, albeit a bit dated. Shades of Hitchhiker's Guide, Brazil, and Full Metal Jacket, although to be perfectly honest, it doesn't rise to any of their levels. Nonetheless, I'm happy to be turned on to a new author. I think there are sequels, so I'll have to dig around for them. And I'm looking forward to the movie.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've had this book lying around since forever but never got around to reading it due to the huge backlog of books I want to read. I was aware it was sort of a comedy, but the name and cover of my edition had mistakenly made me think it was a spoof of old-school sci-fi in the vein of Flash Gordon or Buzz Lightyear-esque Space Policemen. Nope. This book is like Heinlein's Starship Troopers had a threesome with Catch 22 and MASH. I've been told the sequels suck and you should avoid them, but this o ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, humour
Bill is a funny book.
As in, it's very shallow, stereotypical, essentially the literary equivalent of pratfall humour, with a fair amount of system satire as the base but wielded a little too heavy-handedly to be amusing - it's satire like how Avatar was satire, and fails to be funny in more or less the same way.
That said, you could read this in an hour and walk away with time well spent since it wasn't spent on watching paint drying, but I may not leap enthusiastically into the next 10-15 sequ
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Another gem from the library quick picks section. This book made me laugh out loud several times and I was so eager to discover what happens to poor Bill that I found myself up early on Sunday Morning to finish this book. The characters are well written the plot comical and the pace was good. I will be looking up others in the series by this aythor and I look forward to several more easy reads filled with laughter.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Hilariously lets the air out of a lot of pompous hoohah about the glories of military life and war; in this story a less-than-brilliant farmboy is snookered into the service by a lying recruiter and encounters bureaucratic incompetence, chaos, and so on. From the author of the Stainless Steel Rat stories.
Joe Barborak
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Harry Harrison is one of the most entertaining writers around. He doesn't concern himself with being taken seriously, which allows him to put his characters into completely ridiculous situations and succeeds admirably at doing it. The action is non-stop, silly, and strangely enough, believable. Bill's a charming hero that you can't help but root for.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
An easy read satire of the politics of the military and the draft. The narrative is a bit jumpy with big sorry gaps. The focus is very much on painting the absurdity of the situation with cynicism turn up to maximum. Unfortunately this misses the opportunity to develop Bill the character and left me feeling unsatisfied with the book.
Terry Irving
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
OK, I was a young science fiction geek but I cried with laughter at this parody of everything from Azimov to Zelazny. It also was the first time that I saw the flimsy scaffolding behind the grandiose visions of guys like Heinlein.

Wonderful book.
Apparently, this was written by Harrison as a satirical "piss-take" on Starship Troopers - I'm in!! ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was an American science fiction author best known for his character the The Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973). He was also (with Brian W. Aldiss) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction G

Other books in the series

Bill, the Galactic Hero (7 books)
  • The Planet of the Robot Slaves (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #2)
  • On the Planet of Bottled Brains (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #3)
  • On the Planet of Tasteless Pleasure (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #4)
  • On the Planet of Zombie Vampires (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #5)
  • On the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars (Bill, The Galactic Hero, #6)
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78 likes · 18 comments
“- Изложить вам мою версию событий? - спросил Билл.

- Разумеется, нет, поскольку она не имеет никакого отношения к обвинениям. Когда ты вступил в армию, ты автоматически лишился всех неотъемлемых прав человека. Поэтому они могут сделать с тобой все, что угодно. Остается уповать только на то, что они сами являются узниками своей же системы и должны подчиняться сложному и противоречивому кодексу законов, который складывался в течение многих столетий. Они хотят расстрелять тебя за дезертирство, и дельце, надо сказать, состряпали непробиваемое.

- Значит, меня расстреляют?

- Вполне возможно, но у нас есть шанс, и мы должны рискнуть.”
“Билл верил в неукоснительную справедливость правосудия - поскольку никогда не сталкивался с ним.” 0 likes
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