Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Retirement should have come sooner

The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus
by Harry Harrison

The latest installment in Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series begins with the title character, a.k.a. "Slippery Jim" DiGriz enjoying a comfortable but boring quasi-retirement with his wife and sometime partner Angelina. A picnic is interrupted by a mysterious man offering Jim a job to alleviate his boredom and, of course, augment is personal fortune substantially. Is this autobiographical? Like his famous character, Harry Harrison has been quite successful at his career for many years, leaving him with a solid reputation and the means to live comfortably. Whether he was motivated by money or boredom I don't know, but just as Jim should have turned down the job, Harrison should have known better than to write this book. The first Stainless Steel Rat book was as fresh and exciting as Slippery Jim. Other books in the series, such as The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You!, exhibited a keen sense of humor. Although Jim is still skilled at the misdirection and sleight of hand that made him a successful criminal, Harrison's writing has become dull and predictable. At the end of this book, Jim indicates that he may retire permanently. I hope this signals an end to the series, because like Jim the series has grown old and tired.

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