The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted: More agenda than entertainment

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.

At 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.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWhile 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.

The Stainless Steel Rat — (1961-2010) Publisher: In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHarry Harrison 1. The Stainless Steel Rat 2. The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge 3. The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World 4. The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! 5. The Stainless Steel Rat for President 6. A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born 7. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets DraftedHarry Harrison 1. The Stainless Steel Rat 2. The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge 3. The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World 4. The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! 5. The Stainless Steel Rat for President 6. A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born 7. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets DraftedHarry Harrison 1. The Stainless Steel Rat 2. The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge 3. The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World 4. The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! 5. The Stainless Steel Rat for President 6. A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born 7. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets DraftedHarry Harrison 1. The Stainless Steel Rat 2. The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge 3. The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World 4. The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! 5. The Stainless Steel Rat for President 6. A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born 7. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets DraftedHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat ReturnsHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat ReturnsHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat ReturnsHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat ReturnsHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat ReturnsHarry Harrison 8. The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues 9. Stainless Steel Visions 10. The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell 11. The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus 12. You Can Be the Stainless Steel Rat 13. The Stainless Steel Rat Returns


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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 and conducts brain research 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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10 comments

  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.

    • I would expect someone with a PhD in psychology to have a better understanding of the types of people that gravitate to the roles described by the author. I mean, I can see how someone who enjoys imposing their will on others would become a sergeant. That position would also not require a lot of brains. Some of them are bound to become higher standing officers. Thus, very plausible.
      Also, Individual Mutualism does not need to stand up to human nature, there are people in the world who even now live in a similar social structure. Albeit, they are small tribal communities.Can there be a global society such as that? We will probably never know. But, i mean, com’on, we are reading science fiction here. However, i have to give it to Harry, he thought it out to such detail that it, at least, does not read as complete crock. His works are always very imaginative and believable, to an extent of sci fi novel that is. Plots are a bit unfocused and sprawling but fun and entertaining. That is the main appeal of his books: entertainment and humor.

      • Hi Alex,

        Thanks for the comment! I agree, and mentioned in my review, that these books are definitely meant to be fun, and I enjoyed many of them, but I found this one to be pretty silly.

        As someone with a PhD in psychology, I try to use data instead of stereotypes to form my opinions about human behavior. I wrote this review 10 years ago and was not aware at the time of any research showing that army officers tend to be stupid and bloodthirsty people. It’s not my area of expertise, though, so if that research exists, I would certainly be interested in taking a look at it.

        I’m glad you enjoyed this book more than I did!

  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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