cover image The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues

The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues

Harry Harrison, Author Spectra Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-09612-5

Even after four previous capers on the various planets of Harrison's high-tech (but recognizably hip) 25th century, the freshness of the author's language overcomes a somewhat predictable plot structure to make this outing by his favorite future antihero, Slippery Jim DiGriz, thoroughly entertaining. This installment (following The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! ) finds the con man/hero under sentence of death by slow-acting poison after he has (almost) robbed an impenetrable Mint. To acquire the antidote he must contract with his natural foe, the military types of the Galactic League. Thus he agrees to retrieve an alien artifact from a prison planet occupied by assorted religious maniacs, TV junkies and Survivalist recluses. What better time, then, to start a rock 'n' roll band? Combing military service files for signs of both combat capacity and musical ability (DiGriz finds they are virtually incompatible) he assembles the Stainless Steel Rats band and proceeds to get himself and his three unlikely commando sidekicks (Steengo, Floyd and Madonette) arrested, sentenced and deported to the prison planet. Once there, the prefab four demonstrate their good humor and hand-to- hand combat abilities encountering the nouveau Vikings, fundamentalist Shepherds, troglodytes and even Feminist Separatists as they race the clock in search of the mysterious artifact. The breakneck pace and DiGriz's offbeat interior monologue keep the plot airborne, and both SF hardcore and mainstream readers should find this an enjoyable adventure. (Mar.)