The Stainless Steel Rat Returns

Harry Harrison is back to reprise his Stainless Steel Rat series. This book is much like the others — think light fiction with contrived situations, but a bit of fun. In other words, much like the rest of Harrison’s work. This book isn’t the best Rat book, but it also isn’t the worst and given the drought I think something is better than nothing. It is also much much better than the terrible Bill the Galactic Hero series.

[isbn: 0765364034;9780765364036]

There Is No Darkness

This book is very different from the other Joe Haldeman stuff I have read. The other stuff has been serious, thoughtful, and well written. This is attempting to be more of a parody book, much like what you’d get from Harry Harrison. Perhaps that’s the influence of the co-author, Joe’s brother.

I must say however that the end was unexpected and interesting. The last 50 pages was the best bit of this book by far.

There is No Darkness
Joe W. Haldeman, Jack C. Haldeman,
Science fiction

Galactic Dreams

This is a relatively short collection of Harry Harrison short stories. They are:

  • I always do what Teddy says: what happens when we abdicate teaching our youngsters moral values to machine, and then don’t test that the machine is working correctly? A short story about unit testing?
  • Space rats of the CCC: this story is just silly. Its a little bit like Bill the Galactic Hero in style, but also a little bit annoying. It didn’t really work for me.
  • Down to earth: I’m sure I’ve read this basic plot line about a billion times, for example Hawk Among the Sparrows being just one example. This one didn’t even have a good twist at the end.
  • A criminal act: Harrison feels strongly about population grow (see also Make Room, Make Room!). Its pretty obvious in this story, although its not as preachy as Make Room, Make Room.
  • Famous first words: I actually really liked this one.
  • The Pad – a story of the day after the day after tomorrow: seducing women is hard work for billionaires, apparently.
  • If: a pretty standard “don’t alter the time lines” tale, with a small if predictable twist.
  • Mute Milton: what important discoveries have been lost through the ages through racism or accident?
  • Simulated trainer: this is an interesting story — I quite like the concept, and the execution is more believable than most Harrison stories.
  • At last, the true story of Frankenstein: this is a good story too, with a nice twist at the end.
  • The robot who wanted to know: a pretty classic robot story, which could just as easily fit in an Asimov collection as a Harrison collection. I’m quite partial to robot stories, and I enjoyed it.
  • Bill the Galactic Hero’s happy holiday: I’ve previous complained about the overall style of the Bill the Galactic Hero series. I think it works better as a short story than a novel, because the level of annoyance it develops in the reader is smaller. This was actually better than the novel length Bill stories that I’ve read so far.

Overall, a solid collection, but not startlingly good.

[isbn: 0812550587]

Deathworld Three

I thought this one didn’t sound as good as the others, but I was wrong. Its quite different from the other two in its setting, but its still the same romping Harrison style that I like. A little bit unlikely, quite sweeping in scope, and interesting. I liked it.

[isbn: 0722144180;B000OFKKP6]

Deathworld Two

This book is possibly better than Deathworld One, although I find Mikah’s character intensely annoying. That’s probably ok though, because he’s meant to be annoying. Oh $DEITY is he successful. This was another good fun light read, the kind of Harrison I enjoy.

[isbn: 0722144849;B000OFKKP6]

Deathworld One

This is an interesting book. Its quite Stainless Steel Rat like in approach. There is a slightly crooked male lead character, who has unusual insight. He has a beautiful female side kick, who has a strong personality of her own. The story is slightly humorous, and amazing. This is probably the most exciting book I’ve read in the last couple of months, and I look forward to the two others in the series.

[isbn: 0722143508;B000OFKKP6]

Make Room, Make Room!

I must have read this book a few years ago and forgotten, because I have no specific recollection of reading it, but the plot is familiar. This is a distopian novel about the dangers of over population, and was written at a time when the best available population models said that massive over population was going to be a problem by 1999. In the book the population of New York City is 35 million, whereas in reality its much more like 8 million at the moment. In order to support that many people the quality of life has had to radically decline, and the city spends most of its budget on welfare payments instead of maintaining its decaying infrastructure. It turns out that didn’t happen, and I think that’s partially why I didn’t enjoy this book. The underlying story is good, but the book lacks hope, and feels preachy about population control. This book’s style is quite different from the rest of Harrison’s work that I’ve read — there is hardly any humor. Its still an interesting read though and I managed to make it through to the end. I guess what I wanted from this book was a little less doom and gloom.

[isbn: 044151605X]

Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains

(Edited by Harry Harrison.) This book started off better than Planet of the Robot Slaves, but I found the random Star Trek and Star Wars rip offs in the middle of the book intensely annoying. This isn’t so much a satire it is a disjointed list of ideas. I’m disappointed to be honest.

[isbn: 0380756625]

You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat

This is a Stainless Steel Rat book, although different from the norm because it is a choose your own adventure. Its also the last of the Stainless Steel Rat books in the series, and the only one I hadn’t yet read.

I figured I’d document my path through the story, so here goes:

30 – 42 – 62 – 90

Well, that was a disappointment. 90 makes no sense in the context (62 talks about meeting someone and deciding to talk to them, 90 talks about someone accepting a bribe). Lame, I think I found a bug already. Let’s go with the other choice then:

30 – 42 – 62 – 14 – 99 – 106 – 65 – 48 – 67 – 97 – 186 – 33 – 12 – 65

I think I hit another bug… I was meant to go back to before a fight, but ended up after it instead. I give up.

[isbn: 0441949789]