The Stainless Steel Rat: Tons of fun!

SFF audiobook reviews Harry Harrison The Stainless Steel RatThe Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

Listen to the beginning of The Stainless Steel Rat here.

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!

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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. OMIGOSH Kat!!! We keep crossing paths, first Tarnsman of Gor and now Stainless Steel Rat?!?! I read this years ago too.
    Are you a dude and you’ve just been pullin’ our leg these past few years? LOL!!

  2. That’s so funny, Greg! Sometimes I wonder about myself. I tend to like guylit (is that the opposite of chicklit?). Mainly, though, I think it’s because I love male heroes and I trust male authors’ male heroes more than female authors’ male heroes. Hope that makes sense.

  3. Oh, and it helps that Brilliance Audio is putting those two series on audio and kindly sending me review copies. I don’t love every book they read, but almost every production they do is beautiful!

  4. Well you should know that I think that is kinda hot that you read guylit.
    Kinda like a chic driving a pick-up truck or riding her own Harley. LOL!!! ;) -then again, I am kinda a red-neck, I can’t deny. :)

  5. haha! Well, I won’t drive a truck or a Harley. A convertible mustang is more my personality. Black with a big silver stripe…
    Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle right now. I drive a Honda Odyssey. :( But it’s black, at least.

  6. Mustangs are hot too.

    You did make me want to go back and re-read Stainless Steel Rat, though. I think that was the only one I read in the series.

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