The eighth Rat book, and the third in the "prequel" sequence, following A Stainless Steel Rat is Born and The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted.
Slippery Jim is caught red-handed when he tries to rob the mint in Paskönjak. He is presented with a simple choice: a horrible death, or a job for the Galactic League. The League want Jim to go to the planet Liokukae and bring back a missing artefact – the only known evidence of an alien life-form ever found.
To ensure that Jim doesn't try to escape, he is given a slow-acting poison – he's got 30 days to return with the artefact, and receive the antidote, or he'll die. Liokuke is a colony where misfits and maniacs are sent, so to ensure a warm welcome and safe passage around the planet, Jim arrives with three League agents, disguised as a rock band sent to entertain the inhabitants. But as time passes – and Jim's life expectancy is reduced – the mission becomes less about recovering the artefact, and more about liberating the planet.
Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey, 1925–2012) was an American science fiction (SF) author, best known for his character the Stainless Steel Rat and for his novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966). The latter was the rough basis for the motion picture Soylent Green (1973). Harrison was (with Brian Aldiss) the co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.
Aldiss called him "a constant peer and great family friend". His friend Michael Carroll said, "Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and picture them as science-fiction novels. They're rip-roaring adventures, but they're stories with a lot of heart."
Novelist Christopher Priest wrote in an obituary, "Harrison was an extremely ... (more)