Make Room! Make Room!

Harry Harrison
Make Room! Make Room! Cover

Harrison's finest achievement


This dystopian narrative of an overpopulated New York is set in 1999, and the millenium beckons. The city has over 35 million people struggling for food, shelter and means of survival. Andy Rusch is our main protagonist, an anti-hero, drawn into the hunt for the killer of gangster and into a relationship with the dead guy's girlfriend.

Being a gritty, nihilistic and deliberately unsensational story, the killer is never brought to justice, the girl leaves Rusch and he finds little or no resolution to his personal problems. In addition, Rusch's oldest friend, Sol, dies. The only man left standing is the policeman in disconsolate reflection of a city that has forgotten most human values.

The movie Soylent Green has its own cult status now, and its particularly good, mind you, but overall does Harrison's excellent narrative a disservice. The author showed no interest in the uncomfortable origins of the soylent food source used to save the city of starvation and instead is a rather bleak prediction of what a future may hold if human population continues to skyrocket despite dwindling resources. It is irrelevant that 1999 has passed, for the story still works as a powerful prophecy against a society crumbling under its own fertility.