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Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison
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It is the year 1999 and the world has become grimly, terribly overpopulated. This is the premise of Harry Harrison's 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! and fans of his more comic work may be surprised at this bleak, foreboding novel. But Harrison's purpose in writing this book was serious and his concerns were real. Although his fears thankfully did not become a reality for the inhabitants of New York and the rest of the United States, the novel remains a gripping, thought-provoking work about privacy, deprivation and desperation.

A teeming New York City serves as the setting for the novel's nimble storyline, a detective's pursuit of the killer of a nefarious racketeer. While the novel contains elements of classic detective fiction-the hard-boiled protagonist, the seductive mistress, the portraits of corruption and perfidy - Harrison's true concern is less the story itself and more the opportunity the story offers to take the reader on a tour of a dismal, broken world. Overpopulation has altered daily life in innumerable ways and Harrison is keenly interested in detailing the effects of this catastrophic human burden on all aspects of human relationships.

Movie lovers might recognize Make Room! Make Room! as the basis for the 1973 film, Soylent Green, which starred Charlton Heston. Although that film has become something of a cult classic, Harrison and other fans have taken issue with its interpretation of the novel. Concerned about audiences losing interest, the creators of the film made cannibalism, not overpopulation, the thematic focus. As a result, fans of the movie and critics alike will want to revisit the story in its original, un-bowdlerized form.

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Title: Make Room! Make Room!
Author: Harry Harrison
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