Fascist dictators, watch out — Slippery Jim diGriz is on the planet, and he’ll stop at nothing to secure freedom, peace, and representation for the people. Even if he has to lie, cheat, steal, and stuff ballot boxes to do it.
Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series is lots of fun and you can’t help but love con-man Slippery Jim, his sadistic wife Angelina, and their twin sons James and Bolivar who are, for better or worse, chips off the old blocks. This time, in The Stainless Steel Rat for President, the whole family takes a vacation on a backward planet that’s modeled after a mid-20th-century Central American republic which is democratic in theory but in reality is being enslaved by a totalitarian dictator backed by a vicious military force. Even though they’re completely corrupt themselves, the diGriz family can’t stand to see innocent people suffering because they make their living stealing from corporations — not people (I’m not sure what kind of entities own, run, and otherwise make their livings from the corporations if it’s not people… but, I digress…).
No corrupt martial government is a match for the diGriz family. Armed with their combined good looks and sharp wits, a fast car, lots of cool gadgets, a wardrobe of disguises, and plenty of sleep gas and nose plugs, they set out to bring down the tyrant. And, of course, we know they will — the fun is in how they get it done and the trouble they run into along the way. The Stainless Steel Rat for President relies too heavily on the sleep gas (every time we think Jim’s bound to be caught, out it comes), and the story drags during some car chases, but there are many clever scenes and laugh-out-loud moments.
The best part, as I’ve mentioned before with this series, is the production by Brilliance Audio. These books are read by the riotously funny voice actor Phil Gigante who saves the day by providing constant diversion even when the plot sometimes can’t quite muster it up.