“ Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Author: Harry Harrison „
"Slippery Jim" Di Griz is one of the best anti-hero characters i have ever read. I picked it up not too long ago and as soon as i read i immediately ordered the whole set! I found reading them chronologically was the best way for me, but you can find both orders on the wikipedia page and how ever you do it they are well worth a read.
You will find it very hard with any of Harry Harrision's books, but especially with the rat series to stop reading and i must admit to making my way through all twelve novels in about two weeks. They are serious at times but behind everything there is a dark humor and sarcasm that even if you don't like at the beginning you will certainly come to love.
If you ever find yourself in a position to read this, if you like sci-fi, adventure books or even just a good character then this book is definitely a great choice!
The Stainless Steel Rat series is about Slippery Jim Di Griz who is by all accounts one of the greatest con men and thieves in the galaxy, the first book starts out with him as a kid and works up to him being a successful and reasonable powerful individual. Over the series he works for both sides of the law, a lot more frequently than he might like to, and you always see a good side to the character.
Jumping from world to world and getting into all sorts of trouble, Jim always has his strong morals behind him, never killing or stealing from those who can't afford it.
Stealing from banks who are paid out by insurance, the insurance companies pay out and charge the banks more, this is spread out to the people using the banks who pay pence each. In such a law abiding universe the pence that they pay is very little compared to the excitement they get from seeing or reading about the daring crimes.
Related authors for me would be Asimov, Heinlein and "Doc" E E Smith.
I must confess I haven't read this complete series, mainly because I won't buy them and the library seems to be missing a few, but I've read the majority. The difficulty (and to a certain extent attraction) I have found for Harrison books is that he strikes me as a fantasy writer who kind of wishes he wasn't. He does at times write out-and out fantasy/sci-fi but this un-fantasy preference manifests itself in ridiculously fantastical stories which parody the genre by twisting the knob as far as it goes (see Bill the Galatic Hero and some of his short stories (the version of Hornblower is magnificent by-the-by)), or sometimes by setting them in a fantasy/sci-fi universe and then doing his best to ignore it. For example the Stainless Steel Rat books could be set on Earth in the present day- it would require a certain level of re-writing but as they stand this could be done. Though this may only be my opinion, it's difficult to escape the feeling that because of his renown as a writer in this field, he sets books within it because it sells, not because it seems appropriate to the story. However a good story and good characters are that despite the setting and Slippery Jim Di Griz and his exploits as a con-man on various sides of the law are eminently readable, in a book at the beach dip in and out kind of style. To give a distinctly rough outline, Jim is one of the best conmen out there who, by various quirks and whims of fate, seems to end up on the right side of the law rather too often- even when he'd really rather not. The sci-fi/fantasy setting allows a number of technological plot devices that the real-world wouldn't allow but these are used to guide the story instead of it being hung upon them. Other than that I'd leave it to reading and imagination- think of any film/TV series involving conmen which involves them getting into 'hilarious'/unusual scrapes and you're pretty much there- just add rivets and sp
ace stations. All-in-all nice, light, accessible and almost professionally undemanding reading. For what it is, it's worth a high mark but sadly in contrast with what is available for those willing to put some time in, it isn't. If you want a book to kill time without any irritating brain engaging then give this a bash. Otherwise don't.
Slippery Jim diGriz is the galaxy's most loveable con-man. These novels follow his exploits.