The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted: More agenda than entertainment

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSFF audiobook reviews Harry Harrison The Stainless Steel Rat Gets DraftedThe Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted by Harry Harrison

This seventh novel in Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series is actually the sequel to the prequel A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born. Young Jim DiGriz is alone, back in prison, and out for revenge. After he escapes and is tracking his nemesis, he gets captured and drafted into the military.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAt this point, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted (1987) turns into anti-military propaganda that doesn’t even try to be circumspect. The army are the bad guys — all blood-hungry idiots — and they’re preying on a planet who practices Individual Mutualism, an anti-work-ethic cooperative utopian philosophy that could never stand up to human nature. While the Stainless Steel Rat books are definitely meant to be fun, these types of themes come up often enough that I can’t help but think of them as “agendas,” and this particular anti-military agenda is likely to be perceived as insulting and disrespectful to the brave men and women all over the world who risk their lives to protect their countries.

Unfortunately, even if you manage to overlook the agenda, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted offers little new entertainment for fans who’ve seen most of Jim’s antics before. If you haven’t read any of the Stainless Steel Rat books, you’re likely to be more forgiving than I am, and this book is a fine place to start — it will actually help if you haven’t read most of the previous books.

The redeeming factor for the audiobook version of A Stainless Steel Rat is born is Phil Gigante’s narration — that’s entertaining in itself. I’m not giving up on The Stainless Steel Rat, but I hope the next book will offer more creative entertainment and less ridiculous political philosophy.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. I can’t stand books with agendas. That’s why I couldn’t get much into Metatropolis. Most of the stories seemed to be more about the agenda than story, and that’s where you lose me.

  2. Yeah, I think you and I always agree on those types of books!

  3. Thanks for the heads-up. I skip books that push a political point of view.

  4. I can deal if the agenda stays in the background so I can mostly ignore it–but when it becomes overt, it’s obnoxious.

  5. Yeah, this was hard to ignore. Calling soldiers (as a group, but especially officers) idiots, suggesting they’re all blood-thirsty, etc. You wonder if Harry Harrison didn’t actually know any real-life soldiers. In my own experience, soldiers are intelligent, self-controlled, and honorable.

  6. Haha, so true!

  7. Michael Williams /

    If memory serves me Harry Harrison served in the Air Force, and as a veteran myself I found his “agenda” to be right on the mark.

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