has a head full of strange patterns, slowly coalescing. Like lightning seeking one particular point of earth and one cracked channel of air, then whipping a crest of ions, drawing down the fire, he is, without realising, looking for ways to be in the world.
Not like a Hero, its not a job description, you don't really turn into that thing. But a pattern, something to improvise with. A shield between your assumption of yourself and the horrible things the world is about to do to you.
And, for me, at about the age of twelve, it was this guy
It was important that he didn't kill people, and I think it was important, somehow, that he didn't think too much about not killing them. When they point it out to him, he's forgotten and assumed there must have been an occasional casualty. He's surprised when he finds out he's the worlds best criminal with a zero death rate.
And somewhere in the back of a twelve year old's head, a little line gets drawn. Yes. That is how a man should act. That is how to be.
He got drunk and I didn't know what that meant or what it was like. He fell in love and I knew nothing of that. He was good, but he broke the law. He worked for the feds, but only to take down real monsters. When he escaped from training school, he pulled the remote destruct fuse on the ship he stole. Seconds after he did that it went off. He didn't know that they were all programmed to do that. They expect you to escape. They like to give you a little kick when you do to ensure initiative.
He fought dictators and power hungry butchers and awful soulless grey men. Sometimes he fought the military, or just the fact that there was a military. He hung out with aliens.
I can remember, with exactness, the day I bought the first book. I can recall the weather and the sounds. There was a lake. Someone was flying a model plane. The other kids were playing.
If you peel back enough layers, under nineteen years of resentment and fear, you'll find a twelve year old boy who, just once, wants to take down an evil dictator with a hijacked satellite and a sharpened fingernail.
Goodbye Harry Harrison. You changed my life. Not by much, like moonlight on an uncurled leaf, just a touch.