Top critical review
The law of diminishing returns
on 29 April 2015
This is the eighth Stainless Steel Rat book and the third 'prequel' to the original book. Sadly, while I’m a big fan of Harrison’s work and have found “The Rat” hugely enjoyable over the years this sequel to a sequel to a prequel suffers from a number of issues which doesn't make it an awesome read.
The Stainless Steel Rat books are never meant to be taken too seriously; they are a distraction, pure entertainment, nothing else. They've always been fun affairs which favour escapades and exploits over deep philosophical musings. However, unlike my two favourite books in the series: The Stainless Steel Rat and A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born this book seems to be all about DiGriz and his shallow two-dimensional team making a series of mistakes to keep everyone (including himself) in a perpetual state of jeopardy. By doing so the reader is subjected to a rather predictable level of routine action with only a second glance to ensure plot consistency (important in Rat books as these tales are all about the plot), a coherent story line (which veers widely and tries to cover too many different topics including a bizarre analysis of Robert Bly's "Iron John") and a series of hugely implausible events which wouldn’t withstand even fleeting scrutiny. Additionally, the story, such as it is, is a straight copy of "Escape from New York" and the attempt at writing lyrics for the rock band involved is very poor.
Throughout the book the reader has to plough through infodumps of boring social commentary sermons which do nothing but help to impinge on DiGriz’s adventures. Sure there are some nice ideas such as macho Machmen, troglodytes, Feminist Separatists, goat-herding religious-maniac Fundamentaloids and murderous Survivalists, but this is probably the weakest in The Rat series; it’s not awful but I felt that this addition to the series does nothing at all to enhance the reputation of DiGriz.