Friday 9 December 2011

Attention Grabber #7: The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

Attention Grabber is my weekly feature where I post what I think is a great opening paragraph to a book, the sort of opening that pulls young readers in and hooks them from the start.

For this week's Attention Grabber I have chosen something a little different from the usual fare. This is a book that somehow fell into my hands during my early teens, and had me completely hooked from beginning to end. On finishing it I rushed out to my local library, and then on to the larger one in town, to get my hands on as many of the Stainless Steel Rat books as possible. I still turn to these anarchic science fiction stories as comfort books, when blogger burn out is threatening to rear its ugly head and I just want to chill. These are just as relevant to teen boys today as they were when I discovered them, and this opening paragraph gives a great feel for the narrating character's voice, and the humour than runs throughout all of the stories. I still turn to my battered, well read copies but at least three of the books are available in an omnibus edition from SFF publisher extraordinaire Gollancz.

When the office door opened suddenly I knew the game was up. It had been a money-maker - but it was all over. As the cop walked in I sat back in the chair and put on a happy grin. He had the same somber expression and heavy foot that they all have - and the same lack of humor. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable.

"James Bolivar diGriz I arrest you on the charge - "

I was waiting for the word charge, I thought it made a nice touch that way. As he said it I pressed the button that set off the charge of black powder in the ceiling, the crossbeam buckled and the three-ton safe dropped through right on the top of the cop's head. He squashed very nicely, thank you. The cloud of plaster dust settled and all I could see of him was one hand, slightly crumpled. It twitched a bit and the index finger pointed at me accusingly. His voice
was a little muffled by the safe and sounded a bit annoyed. In fact he repeated himself a bit.