Perhaps one of his most prolific series, Harry Harrison doesn’t fail to deliver in yet another installment of the Stainless Steel Rat. Third of the books I’ve read, this one instead takes us back to James diGitz’s youth when he first decided that a life of crime was for him at the ripe old age of seventeen, having to otherwise face the prospect of raising “porcuswine” – genetically engineered pigs that have been crossed with porcupines – for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, living on a farm doesn’t exactly have Jim crossing paths with career criminals, and so the young diGitz goes about training himself in a multitude of skills while figuring out how he can reach such an individual. The answer that presents itself is rather straightforward; the Ratling gets himself arrested, but quickly discovers that the caliber of criminal incarcerated on his planet isn’t exactly the sort of mastermind he’s looking for. During his jailbreak the felon accompanying James proves useful, mentioning a legendary criminal called the Baron, who had evaded the police for decades after a series of elaborate heists. What ensues is diGitz’s attempt to gain the attention of the Baron, and petition for a mentorship. In true Stainless Steel Rat fashion, Jim finds himself marooned on a primitive planet where he must use his wits to survive the brutal warlords that call this world home and return to the galaxy of luxury that he has become accustom to.
As usual these books are short, fast paced, and fun, making for a great read for the commute, or a series you can really plow through if you’re trying to meet your Goodreads Reading Challenge. Going to take a little break from the Rat’s exploits, but am looking forward to picking up the other two prequels next: The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, and the Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues.