I would like some help in finding a novel that I read many years ago. This would have been when I was a teenager, so 25 years ago or so. I know that I bought the book used at that time, so the original time frame for the novel is probably 40 years ago. It was definitely a novel and not a short story. What I really remember about it is at the end of the novel the protagonist has made it to the lowest level of a planet sized city, and there finds a dirt floor in a small room. I thought that it was “Make Room, Make Room”, but after reading a synopsis of that novel I don’t believe that it is. I want to think that the book was by Harry Harrison, but I can’t find anything that matches up with it.

  • Can you take a look at this guide and edit in any extra details you remember.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 12, 2018 at 12:22
  • Thanks, I added a little more, if i remember anything else i will update the question.
    – Zachary
    Apr 12, 2018 at 12:34
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    There was a similar scene in one of the later Foundation books, where someone visits the former imperial capital, now nearly abandoned, although I'm not certain if "small room" matches.
    – Radhil
    Apr 12, 2018 at 12:41
  • @Radhil To add to your point, the planet (Trantor) was a planet-wide city with no natural (i.e. soil) surface exposed except for the gardens behind the Emperor's palace. Since the Empire's downfall, the people remaining there had to pull up the metal plates covering the ground to begin farming the soil underneath. Apr 12, 2018 at 12:49
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    If it's Harrison then it might be Bill the Galactic Hero (I think the planet-city Helior in that book is basically modeled after Foundations' Trantor). Apr 12, 2018 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


It does indeed sound very much like Bill The Galactic Hero

As a reward he is sent to the city-planet Helior to receive a medal from the emperor (who in fact is not the Emperor, but an actor - the real emperor is too busy).When Bill first sees Helior he is stunned, saying "Can you imagine a whole planet covered with gold?" to which his companion replies "No, but I can imagine one made of anodised aluminium - like this one".

Bill's city plan is stolen on a sightseeing tour; because it takes him days to get back to the transit centre, he arrives to find himself AWOL and considered a deserter after missing his transport. He escapes and flees into the depths of the city, where he first falls in with a gang of similarly "deplanned" outlaws, then finds employment with Helior's garbage disposal service. His unwilling recruitment as a spy to infiltrate an ineptly-run anarchist plot leads to his arrest.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • 1
    it sounds familiar, I've definitely read Bill the Galactic Hero. I didn't think that the scene I was thinking of was in it, but that could be it.
    – Zachary
    Apr 12, 2018 at 20:40

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