|3 out of 5 stars|
Someone was tampering with time, altering the past to eliminate the present, fading people out of existence into a timeless limbo. One of the victims was Angelina, the wife of James de Griz, better known as the Stainless Steel Rat.
Another adventure of one of my favourite sociopaths. Well before there was Dexter, there was Slippery Jim DiGriz. He is completely incapable of being straight forward, even with his beloved Angelina, the reformed psychopath.
As per usual, Jim & Angelina are just barely sticking to the path set out for them by the governmental body which recruited and "reformed" them, the Special Corps. (They go off the rails frequently, but always get welcomed back because they are the best at solving criminal cases--who would understand criminals better than other criminals do?) Jim is attending yet another disciplinary meeting, when his boss suddenly goes transparent, then disappears. While using the opportunity to help himself to expensive cigars, Jim also determines that some criminal mastermind has relocated to the past in order to change the present and Jim's world is disintegrating as a result.
Now Slippery Jim is very fond of his life and that of Angelina, so he allows the company scientist to fling him back in time 20,000 years to the ancient date of 1975 to a place called Dirt or Earth or something like that. There is a certainly amount of amusement to be gained from his interpretations of contemporary life, at least when the book was written.
These books are rather formulaic--and I know that I have whined about that with regard to the Elric series--but somehow, Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat manages to remain charming, perhaps because there is a strong dose of humour injected into every adventure. I also enjoy Angelina, who saves Jim on a regular basis and obviously tolerates his chauvinism for reasons of her own.
Classics in the science fiction genre.