Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room! is a 1966 science fiction novel written by Harry Harrison exploring the consequences of unchecked population growth on society.[1] It was originally serialized in Impulse magazine.

Set in a future August 1999, the novel explores trends in the proportion of world resources used by the United States and other countries compared to population growth, depicting a world where the global population is seven billion, subject to overcrowding, resource shortages and a crumbling infrastructure. The plot jumps from character to character, recounting the lives of people in various walks of life in New York City (population around 35 million).

The novel was the basis of the 1973 science fiction movie Soylent Green, although the film changed much of the plot and theme and introduced cannibalism as a solution to feeding people.[2]

Make Room! Make Room!
Make Room! Make Room!
Cover of 1967 Penguin UK paperback reissue, illustration by Alan Aldridge.
AuthorHarry Harrison
CountryUnited States
GenreDystopian science fiction
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback) Electronic (Kindle)

Plot summary

Make Room! Make Room! is set in an overpopulated New York City in 1999 (35 years after the time of writing). Police detective Andy Rusch lives in half a room, sharing it with Sol, a retired engineer who has adapted a bicycle generator to power an old television set and a refrigerator.

When Andy queues for their continually reducing water ration he witnesses a public speech by the "Eldsters", people 65 years and older forcibly retired from work. Pandemonium starts when a nearby food shop has a sale on "soylent" (soy and lentil) steaks. Andy finds that the shop is under attack and being looted.

One of the looters, Billy Chung, a desperately poor boy, grabs a box of soylent steaks which he sells to fund himself as a messenger-boy. His first delivery takes him into a semi-fortified apartment block, complete with the rare luxuries of air conditioning and running water for showers. He delivers his message to a rich racketeer named "Big Mike" and sees Shirl, Mike's concubine. Billy leaves the apartment but hides in the basement, and then later breaks back in to steal. Mike catches him in the act so Billy kills him and flees.

While Andy investigates the murder, he becomes enamored of Shirl. He ensures that she is permitted to stay in the apartment until the end of the month. During this month they both live there in luxury. Afterwards Shirl moves in with Andy and Sol. Shirl soon becomes disappointed with their impoverished lifestyle.

Andy attempts to investigate Mike's death, but he is distracted by riots, paperwork, and the spreading of the undermanned police force to its limit. A piece of evidence left behind by Billy is misinterpreted to indicate that an out-of-town crime syndicate is planning to expand into New York City, threatening the hegemony of the local mafia. Police brass, in cahoots with New York City crime lords, order Andy to do everything in his power to solve Mike's murder, in addition to his continuing regular duties. Andy believes his mission is doomed to failure but cannot refuse. The pressure makes him irritable. Andy's irritability and Shirl's inability to cope with poverty cause a rift between the two. Shirl eventually sleeps with a wealthy man she meets at a party.

To evade capture, Billy leaves the part of the city to which he is accustomed, eventually breaking into the abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he comes to live with Peter, a fatalist hermit eagerly awaiting the new millennium as the end of the world. Soon they are attacked by a small group of homeless people and forced to leave their location. Later they find a new home in a discarded car whose previous owner froze to death. Here, Peter's stoic acceptance of events frustrates Billy. He decides to return to his family, believing the police will have lost interest in him.

Meanwhile, Sol decides he can no longer remain passive in the face of humanity's growing crisis. He joins a march to protest the overturning of a legislative bill that supports family planning, and joins a group that supports population control as humanity's hope of survival. Sol is injured in a riot at the demonstration and catches pneumonia, then dies. A few days after Sol's funeral, a family takes over Sol's living quarters as their own, making Shirl and Andy's life more miserable than before.

Andy stumbles upon Billy Chung, cornering him in his family's home. In an act of desperation, Billy moves to attack Andy with a knife. Having aimed for Billy's leg, Andy accidentally shoots Billy in the head and kills him. The police chief is worried that the killing will be seen as race-motivated and spark more violence. The higher-ups pretend to have no memory of having ordered Andy to apprehend Mike's killer at any cost. Andy is essentially disavowed and ultimately demoted. He returns to his quarters and finds Shirl has left him.

The story ends with Andy on patrol in Times Square on New Year's Eve, where he glimpses Shirl among rich party-goers. As the clock strikes midnight, Andy encounters Peter, who is distraught that the world has not ended and asks how life can continue as it is. The story concludes with the Times Square screen announcing that "Census says United States had biggest year ever, end-of-the-century, 344 million citizens."

Concept and creation

Author Harry Harrison claimed, "The idea came from an Indian I met after the war, in 1946. He told me, 'Overpopulation is the big problem coming up in the world' (nobody had ever heard of it in those days) and he said, 'Want to make a lot of money, Harry? You have to import rubber contraceptives to India.' I didn't mind making money, but I didn't want to be the rubber king of India!"[3]

Short story

Several years after writing the novel, Harrison created the short story "Roommates" (1971), largely by joining excerpts from the novel. Harrison describes the impetus and creation of the short story in his introduction for it in The Best of Harry Harrison. He recounts how he was asked for an excerpt for reprinting, but that he did not think any simple excerpt stood alone. So he took various scenes from the "roommates" plot strand and combined them into the short story.


  1. ^ Netzley, Patricia (1999). Environmental Literature. California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-000-X.
  2. ^ Westfahl, Gary (2005), The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works and Wonders, Greenwood Publishing, p. 575, ISBN 978-0-313-32952-4
  3. ^ "Harry Harrison: When the World Was Young", Locus Magazine, March 2006

External links

50 in 50

See also 50 goals in 50 games.50 in 50: A collection of short stories, one for each of fifty years is a 2001 collection of short stories, so named since it includes fifty short stories written by Harry Harrison over fifty years.

The contents are divided into:

"Alien Shores"

"Make Room! Make Room!"

"Miraculous Inventions"

"Laugh—I Thought I Would Cry"

"Other Worlds"


"One for the Shrinks"

"The Light Fantastic"

"Square Pegs in Round Holes"The closing section comprises eleven stories. These are the stories that defy easy categorization.

Alan Aldridge

Alan Aldridge (1 June 1943 – 17 February 2017) was a British artist, graphic designer and illustrator. He is best known for his psychedelic artwork made for books and record covers by The Beatles and The Who.

Bigger than the Devil

Bigger than the Devil is the second album by crossover thrash band Stormtroopers of Death (S.O.D.). The album was released in May 1999 on the Nuclear Blast label. Its cover design is based on Iron Maiden's 1982 album The Number of the Beast and its title is a play on words on The Beatles member John Lennon proclaiming The Beatles were "bigger (more popular) than Jesus Christ".

Subsequent releases have included both the entire Seasoning the Obese EP -- incorporating both tracks "Seasoning the Obese" and "Raise Your Sword" -- as well as the "Ballad of the Scorpions" (originally released simply as "Rock You Like a Hurricane" on the Scorpions Tribute Album), bringing the total number of tracks to 28.

"Seasoning the Obese" is a reference to the Slayer song/album Seasons in the Abyss, whereas "Celtic Frosted Flakes" is a reference to the Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost.

The Intro/Outro riff used for the song "Aren't You Hungry?" (which is a cover of M.O.D.) is the same of the Anthrax's song "Imitation of Life", of the album Among the Living.

Billennium (short story)

Billenium (or Billennium) is a short story by British author J. G. Ballard, first published in the January 1962 edition of Amazing Stories (Volume 36, Number 1) and in the Billennium collection. It later appeared in The Terminal Beach (1964), and The Complete Short Stories of J. G. Ballard: Volume 1 (2006).

With a dystopian ambience, "Billennium" explores themes similar to Ballard's earlier story "The Concentration City", of space shortages and over-crowding.

Harry Harrison (cartoonist)

Harry Harrison (born 5 December 1961) is a British born political cartoonist and illustrator based in Hong Kong. He is best known as the principal political cartoonist for the South China Morning Post (SCMP). However he also illustrates children's books and provides satirical cartoons to many journals in the South China area.

Harry Harrison (writer)

Harry Max Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey; March 12, 1925 – August 15, 2012) was an American science fiction author, known for his character The Stainless Steel Rat and for his novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966). The latter was the rough basis for the motion picture Soylent Green (1973). Harrison was (with Brian Aldiss) the co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.

Aldiss called him "a constant peer and great family friend". His friend Michael Carroll said, "Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and picture them as science-fiction novels. They're rip-roaring adventures, but they're stories with a lot of heart." Novelist Christopher Priest wrote in an obituary,

Harrison was an extremely popular figure in the SF world, renowned for being amiable, outspoken and endlessly amusing. His quickfire, machine-gun delivery of words was a delight to hear, and a reward to unravel: he was funny and self-aware, he enjoyed reporting the follies of others, he distrusted generals, prime ministers and tax officials with sardonic and cruel wit, and above all he made plain his acute intelligence and astonishing range of moral, ethical and literary sensibilities.

Historic Edition

Historic Edition is a limited edition 10-disc CD box set released by Klaus Schulze in 1995 containing unreleased archival recordings. This set was wholly included in Schulze's 50-disc CD box set The Ultimate Edition released in 2000 (discs 1, 3, and 4 were slightly remastered). Since 2009, tracks from this set are being reissued as La Vie Electronique, a series of 3-disc CD sets releasing all the material of The Ultimate Edition in chronological order.

Inverted World

Inverted World (The Inverted World in some editions) is a 1974 science fiction novel by British writer Christopher Priest, expanded from a short story by the same name included in New Writings in SF 22 (1973). In 2010, it was included in the SF Masterworks collection.

In the novel, an entire city and its residents travel slowly across an alien planet on railway tracks. The city's engineers must work to lay fresh track for the city, and pick up the old track as it moves. Many people are unaware that the city is even moving. A crisis ensues as its population decreases, the people grow unruly, and an obstacle looms ahead.

List of predictions

There have been various notable predictions made throughout history, including those by scientists based on the scientific method, predictions of social and technological change of futurologists, economic forecasts, religious prophecies and the fictional imaginings of authors and science fiction. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke wrote three laws of prediction.

Make Room

Make Room can stand for several things:

'Make Room', a song from the Strap It On (album), of the Helmet band

Make Room, a 1986 album by New Zealand musician Luke Hurley

Make Room (album), 2018 album by Jonathan McReynolds

Make Room! Make Room!, a dystopian science-fiction novel by Harry Harrison, the basis of the Soylent Green movie

Make Room for Lisa

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" is the fifth episode of the first season of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode was written by story editors Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali, and directed by David Semel. The narrative follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as she struggles to find a date and stop the rise of the Anointed One.

Political ideas in science fiction

The exploration of politics in science fiction is arguably older than the identification of the genre. One of the earliest works of modern science fiction, H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, is an extrapolation of the class structure of the United Kingdom of his time, an extreme form of Social Darwinism; during tens of thousands of years, human beings have evolved into two different species based on their social class.

Reproduction and pregnancy in speculative fiction

Because speculative genres explore variants of reproduction, as well as possible futures, SF writers have often explored the social, political, technological, and biological consequences of pregnancy and reproduction.


Soylent may refer to:

Soylent, a fictional food substance from Harry Harrison's 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!

Soylent Green, a 1973 film based loosely on Harrison's novel

Soylent (meal replacement), a brand of meal replacements that was first developed in 2013

"Soylent Green", a song on the 1993 Wumpscut album Music for a Slaughtering Tribe

Soylent Communications, the owner of the NNDB biographical database

Soylent (meal replacement)

Soylent is a brand of meal replacement products available in the U.S., named after the food product in the science-fiction novel Make Room! Make Room! Soylent was introduced in 2014 after a crowdfunding campaign that generated nearly $1.5 million in preorders.Rosa Foods, Soylent's producer, says that the formulation that uses genetically modified food is based on recommendations of the National Academy of Medicine. They established an FDA nutrition facts label and said the product meets the criteria for some health-related claims. Rosa Foods also states that Soylent includes all of the elements of a healthy diet, without excessive amounts of sugar, saturated fat or cholesterol.

Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a 1973 American dystopian thriller film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young. Edward G. Robinson appears in his final film. Loosely based on the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, it combines both police procedural and science fiction genres; the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman and a dystopian future of dying oceans and year-round humidity due to the greenhouse effect, resulting in suffering from pollution, poverty, overpopulation, euthanasia and depleted resources.In 1973 it won the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.

Stand on Zanzibar

Stand on Zanzibar is a dystopian New Wave science fiction novel written by John Brunner and first published in 1968. The book won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at the 27th World Science Fiction Convention in 1969, as well as the 1969 BSFA Award and the 1973 Prix Tour-Apollo Award.

The World Inside

The World Inside is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert Silverberg, published in 1971. The novel originally appeared as a series of shorter works in 1970 and 1971, all but one published in Galaxy, including the Hugo nominated novella "The World Outside". The World Inside was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1972, although Silverberg declined the nomination.On March 2, 2010, Orb Books published this title as a trade paperback edition.

Utopian and dystopian fiction

Utopia and dystopia are genres of speculative fiction that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction portrays the setting that agrees with the author's ethos, having various attributes of another reality intended to appeal to readers. Dystopian fiction (sometimes combined with, but distinct from apocalyptic literature) is the opposite: the portrayal of a setting that completely disagrees with the author's ethos. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take, depending on its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.

More than 400 utopian works were published prior to the year 1900 in the English language alone, with more than a thousand others during the twentieth century.

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