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.
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?