June 2004



I had some spare time to do some leisure reading the other day, so I read the first three books dealing with the adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat, a series of sci-fi adventure stories by Harry Harrison. There is nothing particlarly deep, thought-provoking, or even any cool science in them. Yet I found myself enjoying them, perhaps for that very same reason.

The plot is basic and simple. James DiGriz is an interplanetary super-thief: never been caught, never failed to get what he is after. But he finally does get caught by a covert branch of the government known only as “The Corps”, sort of an interplanetary black ops that doesn’t even officially exist. His punishment? He has to join and become a field agent.

Overall the character is kind of a sci-fi James Bond, with similar always-keep-your-coolness and narrow escapes. One big difference is that he is quite monogamous, at least after he gets married in the second book. I can’t say I have read much by Harry Harrison, (isn’t it a little strange that he has the same first name and last name?) so I don’t know if that has more to do with the author’s preferences, or if that’s just how he chose to characterize the main character of these books.

So I read the first three that were published together in “The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat”. I liked the first two, and have little to criticize without getting nitpicky. The third one though, I’ll warn you. It deals with time-travel. I don’t know that I’ve ever read any sci-fi story that dealt with time travel in any sort of way that seemed realistic, (And that doesn’t even count the physics of it. When the author does choose to go into it, it’s even worse than the unbelievability of the effect-cause paradox) and this was no exception. But it was still overall an interesting story, and I enjoyed it. These are the kind of books I would suggest to someone flying overseas, where you need several books that will keep you entertained.