At a certain stage, the realization strikes through that one must either live outside of society’s bonds or die of absolute boredom. There is no future or freedom in the circumscribed life and the only other life is complete rejection of the rules. There is no longer room for the soldier of fortune or the gentleman adventurer who can live both within and outside of society. Today it is all or nothing. To save my own sanity, I chose nothing.
In the future society where Jim DiGriz lives, most criminal and anti-social behavior has been weeded out of the human genome. It’s hard for bad guys to hide themselves in this antiseptic society — in order to survive, you gotta be a stainless steel rat, and Slippery Jim DiGriz is a really sneaky one. He’s exceptionally cunning but he’s not murderous, so when he finally gets caught, instead of fixing him, the intergalactic cops decide to recruit him. Jim’s pretty conflicted about working for the good guys, but soon he’s on his first case after he figures out that somebody evil is building a battleship.
The Stainless Steel Rat is, simply, tons of fun. It’s quick-paced, action-packed, and funny. The villains are purposely overdone in that cheesy James Bond / Batman kind of way, but Harry Harrison doesn’t skimp on Jim DiGriz’s character. The Stainless Steel Rat is one of those outlaws who you just can’t help but root for, especially when he’s always amused with himself and his circumstances. For a science fiction novel written in 1961, The Stainless Steel Rat ages well, too.
I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version read by Phil Gigante who gives a lively performance. I’m sure that a lot of my chuckling was caused by Mr. Gigante’s interpretation of DiGriz’s personality. In one scene, DiGriz takes a drug that’s supposed to help him understand the mind of a sociopath. This was beautifully and hilariously portrayed by Mr. Gigante. Brilliance Audio will be producing several more Stainless Steel Rat novels read by Phil Gigante. I will definitely be picking those up!