Monday, August 20, 2007

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

"Society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as the old wooden buildings had more rats than the concrete buildings that came later. But they still had rats. Now that society is all ferroconcrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps between the joints, and it takes a smart rat to find them. A stainless steel rat is right at home in this environment."

Welcome to the world of James "Slippery Jim" diGriz. Jim is a professional thief, or more correctly, a con-artist...for what he does is truly an art. He makes his living by pulling off grand schemes of theft and burglary, but does it all with a touch of class. He's a "stainless steel rat": a rat, yes, but a smart one who is able to out think nearly everyone and is nearly indestructible. That is, until one operation goes wrong and he finds himself face to face with the Special Corps, the sort of FBI of the future. The Corps however, is not made up of fools, and rather than arrest diGriz, they offer him a job. The criminal has become a cop. His mission sends him on a chase that puts his life and his heart in jeopardy as he pursues the shapely, stunning, and equally sharp Angelina.

Harry Harrison has created a story here that I found myself totally absorbed in. You may recognize the title as one of our favorite bloggers, Carl, has titled his blog "Stainless Steel Droppings" as an homage. In fact, I got my copy of the book from Carl in my recent prize pack from the Once Upon a Time Challenge! I read this book in a few hours because I just couldn't put it down. I kept thinking of Sin City while I read this book. While the story line has nothing in common with Sin City, the feel of the novel was similar. It had that old detective story throwback narration feel, with a futuristic sci-fi story. Harrison's writing style is incredible and my quotes journal saw quite a few entries from this one.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting as good of a story as I got here! I was expecting something more pulpy, but it wasn't very pulpy at all. This is really a sci-fi classic and it's story telling at it's best. I'm not going to give away the ending, but I will say that the ending did leave me a little bit sad and possibly a little disappointed, but I may have to read the sequel to see what happens with a couple of our characters.

If you're looking for a good, fast paced, action story with lots of imagination, futuristic 007 type adventure, and a wonderful sci-fi story, I highly recommend that you check this one out. And I'm sure that Carl would recommend it even higher than myself!


Darla D said...

I loved this book! It's one of my favorites. I'm glad you liked it, too!

Carl V. said...

You simply have to read the sequel. I'll send you a copy right away (I have several). It ties in so well with this one that they really should be in one book...well, they kind of are if, like me, you had read them in the 3 story book: The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat.

So glad you enjoyed it, I'm always thrilled when someone falls for the rat as I have. Now you know the inspiration for my blog name. I so love (most of) the Stainless Steel Rat stories.

I have a big smile on my face. I'll mail your sequel out tomorrow! You won't be disappointed.

Chris said...

Darla, So cool that you read this one too! I hadn't even heard of it before I met Carl, that's horrible! It was awesome. It will indeed be a sci-fi favorite of mine now too!

Carl, You rock! I'm so glad that the sequel ties in well with this one. I'm guessing it picks up with Angela? That was what I meant by "disappointment" with the ending. I wasn't disappointed with his was more of a "no...but wait, you can't end it yet!!" I absolutely loved the book and thanks a bunch for sending it to me. Like I told Darla, I would've never known about this one had it not been for you and it was still much better than what I was expecting!

By the way, I love some of the titles for the books, haha...I was looking them up on Amazon and found The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell...I'm definitely seeing this series through ;)

Kailana said...

I didn't know Harry Harrison wrote this book. I imagine it is out of print, but if I ever see it I will read it :)

Chris said...

Kailana, If you click on the link in the last paragraph of my post, it will take you to Amazon where you can buy a book that has the first 3 Stainless Steel Rat books all in 1! You can buy this book from second hand sellers, but I think you're right when it comes to buying a new copy of just this seems to be out of print.

jean pierre said...

ah briliant! i've been curious about this ever since i discovered carl's blog.

you've made me want to read it even more now.

i love that noir sound of it...!

Chris said...

It's such a great book JP! You should really try to get your hands on a copy. I would've read it eventually just for the sake of discovering the origins of Carl's blog title. Very happy that I finally read it and I'm looking forward to the sequel. Definitely a classic.

Nymeth said...

This sounds like it would be a good choice for my proper initiation in sci-fi. I need to finally get around to doing that...probably next year. I will get this book in mind!

Carl V. said...

Nymeth, As ridiculous as it is considering I am already planning on a Once Upon a Time Challenge 2, I am thinking of doing a mini science fiction challenge in January as, for some inexplicable reason, the ending of the Christmas holidays always brings on a strong desire to read science fiction.

Debi said...

O.K., I'll be the first to admit that this type of read is entirely foreign to me. But having said that, I have to admit that I'm now thoroughly intrigued.

And I agree with you more than I can say about Carl...he's just the greatest! He's been so incredibly wonderful to Annie.

And because of him and other wonderful people like you and Nymeth, my reading horizons have widened immensely. Lucky me!

Stephanie said...

I have not read this book, but I have read West of Eden by Harrison. It was a strange book, and one day I'd like to read the other 2 in the trilogy.

I've been toying with picking up Stainless Steel Rat, if only because of Carl's references!

Chris said...

Nymeth, This would be a GREAT initiation into Sci-Fi...3 other sci-fi favorites that I always recommend:

1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
2. Speaker for the Dead (my favorite book and sequel to Ender's Game)
3. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur Clarke

Carl, A sci-fi challenge would be incredible! But damn, don't you ever rest?! lol...I have tons of sci-fi sitting on my shelves that's been neglected. I've strayed from it lately for some reason...don't know why. Though The Rat's got me back in the mood! ;)

Debi, I think you'd love this book. It's not your typical sci-fi. It reads almost like a detective/mystery novel. There really is something in it for everyone and it was SO well written.

Carl really is a great guy! I've found that these challenges are really all about meeting new people and expanding our horizons. I've met some of the most incredible you and Annie! and, like you, have added immensely to my TBR list!

Stephanie, Read it! It's only 160 pages and I read it in like 2 hours. It's such a great book!! Come on, Carl named his blog after it, you know it's good ;)

Debi said...

Well, after reading Carl's comment about possibly hosting a sci-fi challenge, I couldn't help myself...I just had to go order it! In fact, I ordered the one with the first three books. This will definitely be a new experience for me. One I'm really looking forward to I might add! But you know much as I adore you all, you're all very bad for my wallet! lol

Chris said...

Yay Debi! So glad you ordered it...but I know what you mean...all these bloggers are horrible on the wallet! Though I know I do my fair share of influencing as well ;) I really need to learn to use the library...but I have this obsession with owning my books.

Nymeth said...

Carl, I would definitely be up for a sci-fi challenge in January!

Thanks for the recommendations, Chris. I will keep them in mind.

Kim said...

I've been dreaming about rats, and now they're popping up everywhere (or perhaps they're popping up everywhere and then I'm dreaming about them).

Sounds like a great book!

Chris said...

Dreaming about rats...hmm, where's a psychoanalyst when you need one! It was a great book! Surprisingly though, and I forgot to mention it in the review, their were no rats in the book (the rodent type that is).

Anonymous said...

Harry Harrison has over 50 books out,so once you are hooked on his writing you need to visit his site