A drawing of Harry Harrison from an online tribute to him on his website. (HarryHarrison.com)

Harry Harrison, the U.S. science fiction author whose writings inspired the 1973 film Soylent Green, has died. He was 87.

A posting on Harrison's website says the author died early Wednesday morning at his home in Britain.

Harrison created one of science fiction's great anti-heroes, "Slippery Jim" DiGriz, in the humorous The Stainless Steel Rat series of novels. Slippery Jim was a con man with strong sense of morality and his exploits were spun into a comic series.

The author's 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! is set in an overcrowded world suffering from a worldwide food shortage — that central idea was the basis for the film Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston.

Harrison also parodied the militarism and war of the sci-fi genre in his seven Bill the Galactic Hero books.

"You touched the lives of millions with your exciting adventures, packed with unlikely but always hilarious and thrilling escapades and frequently rather dodgy, but loveable, characters... and, you know, your fiction was pretty damn good too," friend and fellow author Michael Carroll wrote in a posting on Harrison's website.

Born in Stamford, Conn., in 1925, Harrison also lived in Mexico, England, Ireland, Italy and Denmark. He studied art at New York's Hunter College in the 1940s and served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. He ran a studio selling illustrations to comics and science fiction magazines before he turned to writing.

Harrison's first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960 and spawned a series. He went on to pen several novels with collaborators, including Marvin Minsky, David Harris and John Holm.

Harrison was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

He was predeceased by his wife Joan, who died in 2002, and is survived by two children.