The Stainless Steel Rat

by Harry Harrison
Series: Stainless Steel Rat 1
Reviewed date: 2003 Dec 15
Rating: 3
192 pages
cover art

The Stainless Steel Rat is the story of a master criminal in a society where science and technology have advanced to a point where crime is nearly impossible, and hence, almost non-existent. Our hero, Slippery Jim DiGriz, is a criminal. But he's a nice criminal: he steals, robs, and cheats, but he never hurts anyone.

This story is old, and its age shows in some respects. By today's standards the character's attitudes are chauvinistic. The author assumes people are predictable, and as such the characters are standard cardboard cutouts. Even our main character, the Rat himself, is predictable. So don't read this book if you're looking for great literature that comments on the human condition and explores human emotions and relationships, etc. No, this is a strictly adventure book. Lots of action, dull characters, but all in all a fun read. I recommend this book for two reasons: it's fun to read and it's short.

I wanted to give the book a 4, but for me it is too predictable. I saw each of the major plot points coming a dozen or so pages ahead, and nothing that happened surprised me. But it was well written and thus still entertaining. I imagine that a person who hasn't read hundreds of science fiction books would find it less predictable; it's just that for me, I've read so much that I've seen most of Mr. Harrison's plot devices before.

Here's a quote from From about The Stainless Steel Rat:

Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat grew out of the late fifties' penchant for tales of superspies (James Bond) or rakish rascals with a criminal bent (the Saint).
The [plot] [screams] along at breakneck speed, the characters are absurd caricatures, the action is fast and furious, and the humour embedded in the situations rather than overlaid as feeble jokes. All in all, the Stainless Steel Rat is wearing extremely well, even forty years on. Great fun.

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