I cannot recommend them highly enough. I read this book for the first time back in the early 90s, while at university. We had a fantastic book shop where you could give back books you'd read to help fund your new purchases. I introduced myself to a lot of previously unread science-fiction authors thanks to that shop, but I also read through a lot of great series that way too. Strangely, I never went any further with the stainless steel rat series, although I remembered loving the first book — and I gave it four stars based on that me I read this book for the first time back in the early 90s, while at university.
Strangely, I never went any further with the stainless steel rat series, although I remembered loving the first book — and I gave it four stars based on that memory. Once it arrived, of course, I realised I couldn't really remember what happened in the first book, so I read that first. A very quick read, I pretty much devoured it in a single day although taking in a couple of slightly-longer-than-commute train journeys. And it was fun. Fun with a capital 'F'! Slippery Jim diGriz is a rogue.
Moving around the League from world to world committing crime. Sometimes a little bank robbery, sometimes some smuggling, sometimes stealing government canned fruit supplies and reselling them as his own. Each time he makes his money and moves just as the police are moving in. However, this time he's attracted some unwanted attention. The mysterious Special Corps. And they want to recruit him as an agent. After all, who better to catch a criminal than a criminal? Plus it takes him out of circulation. A criminal he may be, but we're supposed to like him. He's more your Robin Hood type although keeping all the money himself.
He's in it for relatively victimless crimes only — stealing from governments, corporations and nobody gets hurt.
So when his first assignment pits him against a criminal for whom human life has no value he's torn between his respect for their skill and intelligence, but sworn to bring down a danger to the innocent. Also, nobody makes Jim diGriz look like a fool!
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Already looking forward to the rest of the series This was entertaining but not as good as 'Make Room! But then again, the comparison is not fair as 'Make Room! But reading 'SS Rat' once won't make you regret it. Aug 01, Simon rated it really liked it Shelves: sf , wwe-grand-master. I don't know why but I was expecting something more like vintage space opera from the 30's and was surprised to find this was actually written in the mid '60s and still feels fresh.
This is light, fast-moving, edge of your seat stuff that you will whip through in no time. A charming, loveable rogue protagonist is nearly impossible not to engage with. While he think's he's clever, he still gets outsmarted on quite a regular basis, his fallibility only making him more likable. There is very little I don't know why but I was expecting something more like vintage space opera from the 30's and was surprised to find this was actually written in the mid '60s and still feels fresh.
There is very little world building and scene setting either to drag down on the pace of the story allowing the reader to focus on the characters and the fast-moving story. I'm not sure how much of this long series I'm going to read but I wouldn't be surprised if I end up reading quite a few of them. Perfect for when you just want something light and fun but not lacking a certain wit.
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 sombre expression and heavy foot that they all have - and the same lack of humour. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable. I might still have a copy? Humor Warning applies. Jun 12, Suzanne rated it really liked it Shelves: audio , science-fiction. This book aged very well - probably because it focused more on the characters and the caper - and those are timeless.
Jun 03, Dorothea rated it liked it. This is definitely the best pulp scifi I have ever read! There are no actual rats, steel or otherwise, in this story I have to admit I was a bit disappointed about that ; the stainless steel rat is the protagonist and narrator's metaphor for his chosen role in society -- slipping between the cracks and taking what he wants.
In the far future it's harder to do this, as society is run by experts who maintain peace and abundance and who cull potential criminals from the population. Thus one can't j This is definitely the best pulp scifi I have ever read! Thus one can't just be an ordinary rat; one must be 'stainless steel. One thing that really made this book special for me was diGriz's definition of acceptable crimes.
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He's a robber, a con artist, a smuggler, etc. He goes after property only -- and then, it seems, only property that nobody will really need. He's not a Robin Hood at all -- that would require him to redistribute the loot, although come to think of it he does do that a couple of times -- but this rule of his does make him very sympathetic. Some of what he says about this makes a bit of sense, but the idea is too simple and the book takes it way too far. At one point diGriz considers that the fastest way to man a pirate ship would be to break open a mental hospital.
My eyebrow disappeared into my scalp as I imagined a starship crewed by people whose severe chronic depression, anxiety disorders, OCD, etc. I don't think it would get very far! Perhaps the most troubling scene in the book is when a murderous criminal captured by diGriz receives 'justice' in the form of a 'personality change,' seen as the only cure for his dangerous-to-others mental illness.
I suppose in , when The Stainless Steel Rat was published, it was more difficult than it is today to imagine better responses to mental illness? Harry Harrison was, it seems, even more drastically incapable of imagining that centuries of technological and governmental progress might also coincide with changes in gender roles. In the world of the Stainless Steel Rat, men run everything and women live only as their companions and assistants, still dependent mainly on physical attractiveness to men in order to succeed.
This is most clear in the actions of Angelica, diGriz's nemesis. Angelica proves over and over again that she is at least as crafty as diGriz; the book never gives the slightest suggestion that she is inferior to him in any way; even when diGriz thinks she's succumbing to feminine weaknesses, she's only appearing to do so in order to trick him. However, in both of the schemes that Angelica masterminds one to steal a battleship, one to usurp control over a planet , she has to use a man as her puppet.
Furthermore, diGriz finally realizes or at least, thinks he realizes that the original cause of her murderous criminality is a feeling of inferiority beneath the male gaze -- she was ugly as a young woman, and first turned to crime in order to fund plastic surgeries. It makes me really, really glad that I was born after the s to see that so many imaginative writers then -- definitely not just Harrison -- could imagine all kinds of astonishing changes to the world except for changes in the condition of women.
However, this book is so well done that I really enjoy reading about Angelica despite her sorry circumstances. At least it's clear from diGriz's point of view that she isn't actually inferior.
And there are several instances in which diGriz or another male character attempt to patronize Angelica or reduce her to her physical attributes, and she always shuts them down very effectively -- this is fun to read about. Aug 04, Darryl Knickrehm rated it it was ok. It is colorfully written. There is a whimsical tone to the narration. It evokes a lot of the B-sci-fi of the time. The plot is always moving.
Lots of snappy action fill the pages. It is short. All of these make The Stainless Steel Rat a great book for teens. In , this book is not so stellar. Heck, we are in the 'future' now at least for the 60's and none of that B-sci-fi is considered quality fiction nowadays. Just like SSR, that sci-fi 2. Just like SSR, that sci-fi has dated ethics, dated sexual stereotypes, dated technology, dated story structures -- it is really more a product of its time than real science fiction.
The nostalgia value SSR and B sci-fi has allows some to overlook all the 'datedness,' especially for those that saw it as kids.
By no means, however, does this make SSR or this B sci-fi 'good work. The first was the main character -- Jim diGriz. I found him fairly annoying. He is completely one dimensional and that only visible dimension was arrogant. I understand the 'lovable scoundrel' type, but this ain't no Han Solo. To have that kind of character, he must have multiple dimensions. He could be a complete bastard, but the character becomes lovable when he has one underplayed characteristic that undermines all that nastiness.
Here, Jim lacks that. He is only a braggart, full of his cleverness and intelligence. By the end I found myself hoping he would fail. Now this is not what you want a reader to be doing unless it is your intention. Secondly, almost everything in this book is superficial. The world is underdeveloped. It just feels like just a mishmash of weirdness they use psychics for interstellar communication??
Come on! How un-scientific can you get?
In addition, the actions of the characters just happen without any real character-driven motivation Jim quickly joins the Corps, he quickly gets a mission without training, he quickly becomes obsessed with Angela, the list goes on. It all is underdeveloped and not set up properly if it was, these plot points would be believable. Lastly, the plot itself feels like a mishmash of two unrelated stories -- one, a story of a criminal being drafted into an FBI-type agency and going on a mission to find a secret battleship; two, a love story about a criminal trying to topple a government.
The themes, elements, and plots don't relate. And here, they don't even overlap -- one story happens, then ends, and the next begins. The only thing connecting them is Angela, but that felt forced in order to connect the two stories. All this complaining is not to say this book is a total wash.
It does have camp value.
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You!
It does have fun writing. I found the 'secret battleship' story to be interesting and fun.
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But I also thought this would have worked much better if this was over the top, outright comedy something along the lines of Space Quest or The Hitchhikers Guide. Even having a little wit or sarcasm would have helped. Like this, however, I couldn't understand why it was on the Sci-Fi Top , because, frankly, this is the type of sci-fi people make fun of.
What a hoot of a book!! Think James Bond melded with Indiana Jones and Batman in a ish movie of Earth in the 'future' - no specified time.. The book didn't really rate a 4 star but for cheese factor it sure did!! There was more than once when it had me snorting with laughter just at the absurdity of it all. At least the original series of What a hoot of a book!! At least the original series of Star Trek had the honesty to portray aliens out in space like they really were 'alien' although - that's stretching that point to the limit too!!
Proof in point that back in the 60's, they really did a lot of guessing about what was 'out there', so if you were a writer you had alot of free rein and the universe was your canvas!! This book is basically about a clever and smooth criminal - let me clarify here All for the purposes of having him join the 'special forces' league - or some such group that tracks down arch villians over the universe.
You know that old adage - it takes one to know one and catch them at it. And this story is about his first case in the 'corps'. Of course, it involves a femme fatale - it wouldn't have been complete without her!! I loved the glimpse into the mindset of the 60's and this particular author's vision of the future! Too funny! I won't give away any of the gems - they're too priceless to tell and you've really got to read the book to enjoy the treasures!
And let me tell you - they abound in multitude! May 16, Austin Wright rated it it was amazing. Abounding in quick action and quicker jokes Added to basket. Frank Herbert. Norse Mythology. Neil Gaiman.
Stainless Steel Rat Series
The Testaments. Margaret Atwood. Good Omens. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Institute. Stephen King. Ghosts of the Shadow Market. Cassandra Clare. In the Time We Lost.
Carrie Hope Fletcher. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Machines Like Me. Ian McEwan. In Our Hands, the Stars. The Hammer and the Cross. Endlessly inventive and studded end to end with laugh-out-loud hilarity. His Stainless Steel Rat storms the barricades of po-faced Golden Age SF with laughing gas grenades and rams an explosive charge right up its complacent rock-ribbed arse.
Abounding in quick action and quicker jokes He was known as a passionate advocate of Esperanto, the most popular of the constructed international languages, which appears in many of his novels. He published novels for over half a century and was perhaps best known for his seminal novel of overpopulation, Make Room! Make Room! The World According to Anna. Wheels of Terror. The Abyssinian Proof. The Light of Evening.