The Bill, the Galactic Hero Series Analysis

Harry Harrison

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Bill, the Galactic Hero series was begun in 1965, as a single novel. That novel ends with an afterword, with Bill as a recruiting sergeant, suggesting that no sequels were planned. In 1989, the series was continued. A note by Harry Harrison was added to later printings of the original novel, informing the reader that Bill had many other adventures before becoming a recruiting sergeant.

Bill, the Galactic Hero begins with Bill, a white farm boy whose ambition is to become a Technical Fertilizer Operator, being forced into the Space Troopers. A hypnotic device planted in his boot causes him to enlist. After particularly brutal training, including conditioning to hate the seven-foot, reptilian Chingers, he is sent to war.

Bill meets Eager Beager, a disgustingly nice guy who likes to shine other recruits’ boots. Beager eventually is revealed to be a Chinger spy named Bgr. He discloses that Chingers are actually only seven inches long and are peaceful. Bill is assigned to be a fuse tender. In an explosion, he is badly hurt and loses his left arm. This is replaced by a black man’s right arm.

Bill is recruited by the Galactic Bureau of Investigation, which assigns him to infiltrate the underground. It turns out that almost all members of the underground are secret agents of one sort or another. Bill is then sent to the planet Veneria, where he shoots off his right foot to avoid going back to battle.

In The Planet of the Robot Slaves (shortened titles will be used for the remainder of this article), Bill’s missing right foot has been replaced by a huge, mutated chicken foot because there is a shortage of human feet. The hospital where Bill is recovering is strafed by robot dragons. When one is captured, it is found to be labeled “Made in USA.” Bill, along with recruits Cy BerPunk, Meta Tarsil, and others, is assigned to find the planet Usa. The planet turns out to be ruled by metal creatures and worked by robot slaves.

After Bill becomes involved in a war between Roman legions and medieval knights led by King Arthur, the British forces...

(The entire section is 868 words.)