Slippery Jim DiGriz. The galaxy's greatest thief and con artist: the Stainless Steel Rat. For novel upon novel, Jim DiGriz has outfoxed the forces of conventionality, cutting a stylish swathe through dozens of star systems.Now, Slippery Jim and his beautiful wife Angelina find themselves becalmed on a painfully boring backwater planet, with nothing to do but practice their skills at computer crime.Then they meet a billionaire who claims to be 40,000 years old--who offers them millions of credits to investigate a string of unsolved interstellar bank robberies. Robberies which, it turns out, always happen when the circus is nearby. . . .In a sense, The Stainless Steel Rat has always been a high-wire performer. Now, as he infiltrates the world of the galactic big top, he's taking the role to extremes . . . and drawing the attention of more dangerous ringmasters and strongmen than he ever expected.Will this be his final show? Has Slippery Jim finally leapt for his last trapeze? Naaah. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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October 14, 2000
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Excerpt from The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus by Harry Harrison
The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus
"I'M EXHAUSTED," ANGELINA SAID. "ALL this hammering away on a hot computer keyboard."
"Productive hammering, my love," I said, pushing away my own keyboard, yawning and stretching until my joints cracked. "In a little under two hours we have made more than two hundred thousand credits through insider dealing in the stock exchange. Some might believe it illegal--but very profitable. I prefer to see it as a public service. To keep the money circulating, to lower the level of unemployment ..."
"Not now, Jim. I am too tired to listen."
"But not too tired to listen to this. Right now we need a complete change. What do you say to a picnic in a leafy dell in Sharwood Forest? With champagne."
"A lovely idea, but the shopping ..."
"Has been already done. I have a complete picnic, basket and all, in the stasis freezer. Everything from caviar to Roc's eggs. We have but to sling it into the hoverfloat, along with plenty of bubbly drink, and let joy begin."
And so it did. While Angelina slipped into something picnicky, I slipped the picnic hamper into the hoverfloat--humming happily as I did so for we had been working too hard of late. We must escape the daily grind. A change of scenery. In the nearby forest, which was one of the few green spots on the painfully boring planet of Usti nad Labam. The landscape was all dark satanic techno-factories run by computer nerds. It was a pleasure to rob them. Using the most advanced hacking techniques I had slipped some software into the operating system of a prominent broker. With this I could slow their input of information by varying lengths of time. With this advance knowledge I could buy before a price rise--then sell at the higher price. Neat.
A favor to them really, because when the scam was eventually discovered, I truly believe that the resultant news stories and jolly police chases would give them something to think about for a change. Instead of the incessant RAM, ROM, PROM. In our own way Angelina and I were benefactors, bringing joy into otherwise boring lives. The price was a small one for them. Infinitesimal. Angelina joined me and we were up, up and away.
The engine roared forcefully, the air rushed by swiftly, and we held hands compassionately as our transport of delight soared skyward.
"Wonderful," Angelina breathed.
"Merda," I growled as a police warning bleeped and blinked on the console. There it was--a police cruiser swooping towards us. I stamped hard on the power.
"Please don't," Angelina said, placing a gentle hand on my arm. "Let us not spoil the day with a sizzling chase. Could we just stop, smile at the police? Not you, me. All you have to do is pay the fine. I will charm the police, you pay their fine, and we will then go on."
It made sense. There was no point in spoiling our day out before it really started. I sighed dramatically and, with great reluctance, eased off.
Our speed dropped.
The police cruiser fired its nose guns at us.
Things happened very quickly after that.
I hit overdrive and pulled back hard into an inside loop. The police missed: I didn't. I blew the cruiser's tail off. Then I banked hard to avoid the hosing slugs from his wingman. As the police vehicle swooped by I saw that it had no windows. Therefore no occupants.
"Robot policemen!" I chortled. "Therefore we don't have to hold back and spare their lives. Because they have no lives! To the junkyard with the lot!"
After that it was Old Home Week in the diGriz partnership. I climbed--then did a 5G dive to get away from the flock of police cruisers that had appeared all too suddenly. Hit the reverse drive when they were all on my tail. Angelina worked the armament and defenses as they zipped by and managed to get three of them. Even on the most peaceful planet I go not unarmed into the sky; our peaceful hoverfloat was a lot more deadly than it looked.