I got into The Stainless Steel Rat books from the 2000AD comic adaptations - Carlos Ezquerra drew him a little bit like James Coburn, and that’s how I imagined him. As per this fantastic cover. His version of Angelina was, er, striking.
Torturer: “Talk, dog!”
Man, I loved those novels when I was a kid, and they’re still great nowadays, and I’m amazed they haven’t been filmed. “It’s like Bourne meets Minority Report but the hero takes a lot of drugs, doesn’t kill anyone, and speaks Esperanto; his sexy girlfriend used to kill people, but she was brainwashed!” The Peter Elson book covers were great in their own way, but they weren’t how I imagined Jim to look.
From there I picked up Bill, The Galactic Hero, a short story collection called Something Tales and Something Tomorrows, etc. He was much hipper than Clarke and Asimov, less hung up on the science, more direct than Bradbury, who also died recently. He did start to churn out Stainless Steel Rat books, though; I remember two of them had incredibly similar plots, and “Goes to Hell” wasn’t very good at all.
Last links with the past, dying off. Frederik Pohl’s still alive. Sadly Harrison doesn’t seem to be listed on Wikipedia’s “Golden Age of Science Fiction” article, perhaps someone can rectify that. He was quasi-new wave, though, a bit edgier and less sciencey than the others. Jesus, the article about New Wave is awful.