This seventh novel in Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series is actually the sequel to the prequel A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born. Young Jim DiGriz is alone, back in prison, and out for revenge. After he escapes and is tracking his nemesis, he gets captured and drafted into the military.
At this point, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted (1987) turns into anti-military propaganda that doesn’t even try to be circumspect. The army are the bad guys — all blood-hungry idiots — and they’re preying on a planet who practices Individual Mutualism, an anti-work-ethic cooperative utopian philosophy that could never stand up to human nature. While the Stainless Steel Rat books are definitely meant to be fun, these types of themes come up often enough that I can’t help but think of them as “agendas,” and this particular anti-military agenda is likely to be perceived as insulting and disrespectful to the brave men and women all over the world who risk their lives to protect their countries.
Unfortunately, even if you manage to overlook the agenda, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted offers little new entertainment for fans who’ve seen most of Jim’s antics before. If you haven’t read any of the Stainless Steel Rat books, you’re likely to be more forgiving than I am, and this book is a fine place to start — it will actually help if you haven’t read most of the previous books.
The redeeming factor for the audiobook version of A Stainless Steel Rat is born is Phil Gigante’s narration — that’s entertaining in itself. I’m not giving up on The Stainless Steel Rat, but I hope the next book will offer more creative entertainment and less ridiculous political philosophy.