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The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus by Harry Harrison

ssr-omnibus
I consider it an ill omen that I
have already forgotten the
character's name...
I don't really know what it is that draws me, apparently by chance but I suspect more by dint of character imbalance (mine) to books that I hope I will like, enjoy reading to a greater or lesser degree, depending on a variety of factors, not least being current mood, but then can't help but find flaws therein which, annoyingly for me as I'm quite keen on the romantic ideals of right or wrong, good or bad, still doesn't put me right off finishing and buying the next novel in the series. What's more frustrating for good old "Black'n'White" GBD is that this particular book, one I fished from a faulty returns crate  destined for the big book bin in the sky (actually Little, Brown publisher's incinerator) has a whole three chapters missing from the second installation of the tale of... damn. I can't remember the character's name. That is not a good sign. Still, as previously mentioned, it didn't stop me from gamely pushing on, reconstructing the missing action from hints later in the book, and plowing straight into the third novel of the three without upset at the lacuna left behind by random book-binding serendipity (or lack thereof). 

So far so meh; hardly a glowing endorsement or a damning critique. But then I came to Harry Harrison via Charlton Heston and more serendipity, as I discovered that Soylent Green was an adaptation for screen of Make Room! Make Room! by none other than HH himself (and starring Edward G Robinson in his last film role, so it happens). As is my want, actions dictated as they are by the whims of Fate (hence 'metaliteral' intertextuality) I bought Make Room!... and went after something else by the same author, to see if it uncorked a gluttonous desire for all of his books.

And so, Slippery Jim (it just came back to me) was next, figuratively if not temporally. I must say I'm pretty indifferent. It may be due to the anachronistic view of the far future that betrays Harrison's grounding in the technology of his day, or it may be because I can't abide (maybe too strong - am mildly irritated by) the way the protagonist can conjure an escape from every trap, can waltz through locked doors and has the luck of the truly imaginary on his side. It likely stems from an inability on my part to definitively suspend my disbelief, and that is a crucial let-down in a novel where the fantastic is intended to be common-place. 

If I have offended any hardcore sci-fi legend-worshippers by being smugly churlish about these three works, then please ask yourselves what do I know? I am happy to disagree with anyone with a more objective perspective, and would be pleased to enter into a terrible Twitter debate that descends into name-calling, fake accounts posting sexually explicit slander and eventual user suspension (or worse, show trial and extradition). Of course, you my dear reader may well be as imaginary as James Bolivar deGris...

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