The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You
Series: Stainless Steel Rat 4
Reviewed date: 2006 Jan 25
Plot: After a brief altercation with the Interstellar Internal and External Revenue Service (IIER), Slippery Jim DiGriz is drafted by the government to investigate the kidnapping of humanity's top admirals. Jim quickly traces the kidnapping back to a race of Bug-Eyed Monsters (BEMs). Because humans "are too dry, [their] eyes don't stick out on stalks, [and they] secrete no nice slime," the BEMs believe mankind is "too disgusting to exist side by side with them." The BEMs are preparing for a war of extermination; "Death to the crunchies!" is their battle cry.
Jim DiGriz rather prefers that humanity not be destroyed, so he infiltrates the BEMs, figures out the root of their aggression toward mankind, and puts a stop to their invasion. He saves the galaxy.
Merit: Harry Harrison's fourth Stainless Steel Rat book is like all the others: a space opera action story. The plot is quick-moving and engaging, the characters are fun if not precisely realistic--but if we wanted reality we'd be reading nonfiction or watching the news. In a show of skill that puts most other writers to shame, Harrison makes Jim's arrogance in his abilities charming and funny.
"I can do it," I told him, and enjoyed the way the whites--or really the reds--of his eyes appeared as he rolled them in my direction.
"You? Succeed where all of our forces have failed?"
"Of course. I will abandon modesty and tell you that I am the secret weapon that will win the war."
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You rates a respectable three out of five, and I recommend it.