The summary that follows will discuss the Stainless Steel Rat novels in order of internal chronology. The first three to be published were later combined in The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat (1977).
In A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, James Bolivar “Slippery Jim” diGriz deliberately bungles a robbery so that he will be sent to prison, where he can learn criminal techniques. He escapes and seeks out the legendary Bishop. When the Bishop is caught, diGriz helps him escape. The two stow away on a spaceship but are double-crossed by Garth, the captain, who delivers them to a slave master. The two escape and join a neighboring army. During a battle, the Bishop is killed. DiGriz destroys the slaver, but Captain Varod of the Galactic League Navy captures diGriz to return him to prison.
In The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, diGriz escapes from prison and searches for Captain Garth, whom he blames for the Bishop’s death. He is captured and forced to join the army. Varod asks diGriz to spy on the army’s invasion plans. DiGriz learns that Garth is now General Zennor, commander of the invasion. DiGriz helps take over a passive utopian city. Zennor discovers diGriz and imprisons him. Local inhabitants free diGriz, who orchestrates a massive desertion from Zennor’s army. Varod’s navy arrives and captures Zennor. As a reward for his work, diGriz’s criminal record is wiped clean.
In The Stainless Steel Rat, diGriz escapes from a robbery but Inskipp, leader of the Special Corps, captures and recruits him as an agent. DiGriz discovers a plot to build an interplanetary battleship. The battleship disappears, and diGriz baits a trap to capture it. The trap succeeds, and diGriz nearly captures Angelina, the plot’s murderous mastermind. He follows her to a distant planet, where he discovers that Angelina is fomenting revolution. He saves her from an assassination attempt and...
(The entire section is 796 words.)