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The Stainless Steel Rat, The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge & The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World were a present from a friend, and so despite some original misgivings, and the mocking jibes of my now ex-girlfriend (don't worry it wasn't the book!), I forged my way through them in their entirety.
I don't have any regrets, my time spent reading was relaxing and interesting... it was pleasant. A few month later, I remember some portions of the story, and some of the imagery sticks with me today, a calling card of a good piece of literature, and yet I'm not keen to give Harry Harrison, and his metallic rodent a 5 star review.
The novel is a gentle twist on a sci-fi detective story, and follows anti-hero, James Bolivar DiGriz, on his adventures through space, and (of course) time! H.Harrison clearly has a gifted and interesting imagination, and I owe him thanks for this gift. The novels were nicely situated between page turners, and casual reading. I didn't have any trouble putting the books down, nor urgency to come back to them, but when I had a few moments spare, I would sometimes prefer them to watching some television, or would be glad to have something to read in the garden.
My main problem was the writing style. It put me in mind of a 60's comic book, or cartoon show. Maybe that's what H.Harrison wanted, but I found it very slightly grating, and perhaps just a little bit sloppy. I found his characters; especially his female characters, unbelievable, even in their fantasy sci-fi setting, and whilst I read, I could imagine the author hammering away at his type writer, smiling to himself at the machinations of his incredibly two dimensional creations.
Maybe I'm being harsh. I'm sure a portion of this depiction was intentional, and the novels genuinely are creative and original. The writing is much better than within JK Rowling's Harry Potter, and the characters are not far behind. If they deserve to be read, and I believe they do, then so does this, but perhaps first a reader considering this novel should really look at Isaac Asimov's "Robot" series - featuring Elijah Bailey, or if comic criminal creativity is what you are looking for, perhaps Terry Pratchett's, Going Postal.
The Stainless Steel rat is facing his greatest challenge yet - Angelina has co-erced the rat into marriage. But getting a marriage means revealing their whereabouts and that means bringing down a whole heap of trouble from above.