James Bolivar DiGriz (aka the Stainless Steel Rat) is my newest literary comfort food. After reading this, I even created a “comfort food” bookshelf because I found it such a mood-enhancing piece of toe-tapping terrific. Granted, there are a lot of morally casual rogue types surfing the SF space ways, but Harry Harrison has made Slippery Jim something very warm and cuddly. He is a cup of hot chocolate and a pair of UGG slippers wrapped in a soft blanket in front of a fire on a chilly evening. He is FEEL GOODNESS itself.
Why? A number of reasons but two I found most important. First is the gliding, easy breezy style of Harry Harrison’s writing that he infuses with real quality (a tough balance). This is light-hearted fun with depth.
Second, and related to the first, is the intelligence and detail that Harrison brings to the plot. Despite being designed as a smiling-inducing space adventure, Harrison provides enough explanation for DiGriz’s larger than life accomplishments to preserve the disbelief suspension so that the reader never feels like their smarts are being given the finger. Harrison makes you feel “taken care of” by his stories. That is something I found really special.
A little background on the Rat
For those new to the series, James DiGriz was the galaxy’s most accomplished, most sarcastic thief and most wanted thief. Smart, suave and skilled in the art of disguise and wholesale dishonesty, he's also a master at breaking and entering and numerous forms of hand to hand combat. He is saucy sack of SCOUNDRELific.
Things got real interesting when Slippery Jim was “out-conned” into joining the Special Core, an elite police force and spy agency made up of former criminals. The Special Core is headed by Harold P. Inskipp (aka Inskipp the Uncatchable) who was the most famous thief in the galaxy in his day. The Special Core's mandate is to hunt down the most violent criminals and run certain covert ops for the government when their particular skill sets are needed.
Jim and Angelina, his pregnant wife and former criminal mastermind, are off honeymooning and doing a little bank-robbing for shits and giggles (they maybe Special Core, but they are still roguishly roguey). Of course, Jim would say he is just giving the police force a bit of excitement in their otherwise dreary lives.
Anyway, Jim and Angelina's escapades are cut short and Jim is sent on a spy mission to the Planet Cliaand. Turns out Cliaand has been successfully invading nearby worlds, something that until now has never been feasible given the logistical problems and the enormous cost and resources necessary to forcefully invade another planet. [Quick Note: I thought this concept of invading a planet being next to impossible was very well thought out and an interesting aspect of the story.]
Well Cliaand has found a way to do it successfully and are beginning to expand at a dangerous rate. DiGriz is sent to find out how they are doing it and discover a way to stop them. The details of his mission and how he gets around the INTENSE security of the police state like Cliaand government is simply barrels of monkey fun.
I had such a good time with this story that I feel like I want to go back and read the first one because I only gave it 3 stars and that feels a bit criminal at the moment. This is the kind of story that you can pick up time and time again and just enjoy. DiGriz is the perfect rogue with mad skills and a heart of gold. Think Han Solo with spy craft and sans wookie (though Angelina is ONE SERIOUSLY TOUGH HOMBRE).
I plan to slowly read through the rest of the stories as well as Harrison’s other work as he has really impressed me with his story-telling so far. If you are looking for a light-hearted, but smartly written and well plotted feel good story, this certainly fits the bill.
Another entertaining slice of the life of our painfully flawed protagonist Slippery Jim DiGriz. He may have found himself in a long-term relationship but he is anything but settled as he is soon dragged into a mission to thwart a seemingly impossible interstellar invasion.
Full of hi-jinks and laugh-out-loud moments, this one was a blast. It does suffer a bit from Return of the King syndrome, though, as it ends four or five times.
I believe I liked this one a little better than the first. It hits the ground running as before - perhaps even worse - but it's easier to pick up since I've been introduced to the setting and the characters already. From there it's off to another adventure with higher stakes, more social commentary, and a good point or two about the impossibility of space war (points that I hope will be proven right some day).
Iš esmės, absoliučiai tinka kiekvienas "Plieninės Žiurkės" apžvalgoje parašytas žodis. Ką papildomai galima parašyti apie PŽ kerštą, tai kad ji, lyginant su pirmąja dalimi, dar labiau pacifistinė, dar labiau šaržuoja karą, kariuomenę, Rusiją ir apskritai imperializmą ir šovinizmą. Ir nuo to ji niekaip ne prastesnė už pirmtakę. 4*.
Slippery Jim diGriz returns in the second of Harry Harrison's light-hearted science fiction series – The Stainless Steel Rat. Having stopped Angelina's homicidal scheme in the first novel, The Stainless Steel Rat, our hero promptly falls in love with her. Luckily, the technology of the Special Corps means that part of Angelina's punishment is that the homicidal parts of her brain are reprogrammed. Although, still trouble with a capital 'T', she no longer wants to kill people. Which is lucky as she's pregnant with their child and married in fairly short order from the start. Having skipped out on the Special Corps, they're holidaying in secret while robbing banks to pass the time together.
Tracked down again by Special Corps diGriz is offered the opportunity to redeem himself again through a dangerous mission to investigate a secretive planet which has been invading a number of nearby planets and starting to worry the corps. We're told that invading a planet is supposed to be nigh-on impossible. Planets are too easy to defend, too hard for an attacker to maintain control of. Presumably a bit like the idea, that we in the UK have held on to, that our island status makes us harder to invade – although the long history of us successfully invading smaller islands suggests it's actually far from impossible if you choose islands that are both small enough and significantly less technologically advanced to ensure a rout. Part investigating how the Cliaandians are managing to, repeatedly, successfully invade other planets; part trying to get in on the action and somehow stop them in their attempt to take over the matriarchal planet of Burada.
As with the first novel, The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge is a boy's own adventure, but invested with a much more exciting plot and more opportunities for diGriz to get into trouble, out of trouble and make use of his liking for sarcasm.
I liked the premise (invading a planet from another planet is impossible - but these guys are doing it - go figure out how). The infiltration and action were just as clever and fun as in the first book. The information gained late in the book seems to hint at a recurring villain. The only thing that lets this down is the solution to the original problem - it turns out they are successful invading planets because... they convert all the resources to invading the next planet? Not terribly convincing.
This SciFi Spy novel is basically a fast fun romp that hits all the high points of dangerous spy, SciFi, and action stories. And it does not let up for very long. I did find some of the torture scenes a bit too much and marked them to skip next time. Other than that, there were no problems.
Jim DeGris throws lots of smoke grenades, changes his appearance many times, and sneaks in then out then in again to get the bad guys. This easy to read science fiction book does not challenge the reader at all but is still kind of fun.
The Rat, fresh from marrying his homicidal sweetheart Angelina, is sent to the oppressive planet Cliaand to investigate why they are invading other planets.
This is probably the novel that sets the formula for all the other novels in Tis sequence. It is fast, madcap, full of ridiculous capers and adventures and full of Jim's trademark larceny and sheer genius at improvisation. The sequence where he breaks out of the military base then breaks back in again is superb.
It fleshes out the ideas and universe of the first book much more realistically and also gives the female characters much more to do: we see what Angelina is capable of this time around, and there's a reason why she and Jim are among my favourite spouse teams in fiction.
The only issues with this book are that it does try to produce some credible female supporting characters but doesn't really do much with them beyond plotting. The science feels a little less specific and, therefore, much less dated (hint to SF writers: Te more detail you put into your tech, the faster it dates), although it's easy to tell that this was a novel written before the ascendancy of software over hardware in technology.
Not long after finishing the first book in the series, I happened to stumble upon the sequel and happily picked it up. After how much I enjoyed the first book, I expected more great things from this.
While it was still good fun, I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the first, and it did feel a bit more dated this time. If I see the next book I might pick it up, should I be in the mood for something light, but for now I'm quite happy to leave it there.
Slippery Jim strikes again! Just as the lovable rogue is about to settle down, the Special Corps send him out on an undercover mission infiltrating the invading military of Cliaand to discover just how mysterious grey men are bolstering their forces.
This was another rollicking fast-paced intergalactic mission impossible with a wonderfully acerbic wit. While the technical detail wasn't always to my interest, I couldn't help but appreciate the sheer cleverness of the Stainless Steel Rat's tampering with the system. That being said I would like to know a lot more about his disguise kits as they always work a charm without fail.
It was also pleasant to read a classic science fiction adventure where the rugged hero not only meets his female match but also loves and respects her enough to stick around. diGriz might well leap headfirst into an adventure while Angelina is pregnant but she continues to play a significant part regardless, saving his hide on multiple occasions. Indeed they make a delightfully dangerous double act.
There were sections that lost me with Cliaand military rank and explosive preparations but ultimately I really enjoyed the gleeful abandon of this thrilling plot. I recommend The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge and indeed the whole Stainless Steel Rat series to science-fiction fans who generally prefer Han Solo to Luke Skywalker.
The master criminal Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat, is recalled from his larcenous holiday by Inskipp of the Special Corps. Somebody is doing the impossible and waging interstellar war…and winning! Disguised as a Star Pilot for the Cliaand Navy, Jim infiltrates the barracks and gets himself assigned to a mission. Their strategy seems sound - no information to the troops until they are well into space. Upon landing the Cliaand troops meet only token resistance and Jim starts to suspect the battles are won before they land. Not only that but the troops are barely capable drunken sots for the most part, directed by a handful of much more able and sinister Gray Men who mess with Jim’s memories. When the Rat gets rescued by his beautiful but deadly wife Angelina, it becomes of paramount importance to follow the Gray Men back to their home planet and decide their fate. Harry Harrison’s second adventure of the SSR is great fun despite the ridiculous deus ex machina ending.
The adventures of "Slippery" Jim DiGriz continue in the thrilling sequel. After once again getting into a little trouble through his Stainless Steel antics, Jim, and wife Angelina are tasked with singlehandedly taking down a interstellar dictatorship. It goes well! I really enjoy Harry Harrison's writing, I was hooked when I first read West of Eden and its staying true for this novel. A fun, light hearted romp through space, torture and politics.
In terms of earlier science fiction, this was pretty interesting. The heroics and random plot twists due to unimaginable technology are quite familiar. One of the most interesting displays in this book was how gender relations was portrayed. Quite opinionated!
This was a fantastic romp of a book. Full of detail and joy but with a taut plot that was constantly moving forwards. The ending may have been a bit quick and easy but it was very interesting in concept.
The Characters are beloved and work in their own right. I have read enough of these to love the Small Town America sci-fi setting (that was captured to perfection by Ray Bradbury in his short stories. Its not twee or jarring, just hopeful and charming.)
The plot moves fast. This is not a great read. This will not challenge your perceptions and will probably not shock you but it is a whole heap of fun and that is perfectly fine. In these challenging times fun things are to be cherished.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has an interesting premise, a great story to tell and it does so quickly, but without too much haste.
Warning: Don’t read this review if you haven’t read the first Stainless Steel Rat novel.
Several nights ago I was in a bad mood. I had asked my husband to pick up M&M’s while he was at the grocery store because my daughter needed them for a school party the next morning. Due to a bad cell phone connection, he came home with the wrong thing and I didn’t discover this until 11 pm, after the closest grocery store was closed. Grumbling and feeling sorry for myself, I got into my car and set out searching for M&Ms.
Fortunately, I had grabbed an audiobook on my way out the door: The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge by Harry Harrison (produced by Brilliance Audio). Within 2 minutes of hitting play, I was smiling and laughing out loud — a complete mood reversal. It’s not just the despicably charming characters of Slippery Jim DiGriz and used-to-be-evil Angelina, but also Phil Gigante’s hilarious delivery.
The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge begins with Slippery Jim robbing a bank and Angelina driving the getaway car. Jim is as clever and ingenious as ever, but now he’s joined by Angelina — the evil villainess from the first novel who’s supposedly been “fixed” and is now working with Jim for the Special Corps, though they’ve both escaped and are attempting to return to lives of crime together. Angelina hasn’t lost any of her skills and ambition — she just has a bit of human decency now. Fortunately for the reader, not enough decency that she isn’t eager to go along on Jim’s crime sprees and help him out of tight spots, even while pregnant. This combination of Angelina’s brilliant criminal activity, deadly fighting skills, and sweet wifely and motherly instincts is absurdly amusing. And we’re never quite sure if she’s really cured of her sociopathic tendencies… Phil Gigante gets her voice just right.
Jim and Angelina end up turning themselves in and Jim gets sent on a dangerous assignment in which he must figure out how the planet Cliaand is conquering other planets. Along the way, he goes undercover as a Cliaand officer (Gigante’s Russian accents are so funny here), meets an army of beautiful women, wears transparent clothes, undergoes psychoanalysis (Gigante’s got a German accent here), and creates a troop of polite robot butlers who, in Gigante’s uppercrust English accent, say things like “Thanking you, Sir” as they throw bombs at the enemy.
The Stainless Steel Rat series, so far, is superb in every way — the plot is exciting and clever, the writing is tight and colorful, and Jim’s voice (it’s written in first-person) is endlessly entertaining. Phil Gigante’s humorous narration makes it doubly funny. This is definitely a series to read on audio!
This story takes off a few months after the end of the first book, "The Stainless Steel Rat". It follows James Bolivar diGriz, who is a con-man employed by a special agency aimed at defeating serious crime and other bad things, in this case, galactic conquest.
I enjoy the way these stories unfold, and I like the glee with which the narrator (audio book) provides as he tells certain events. I wonder if these stories inspired Richard K. Morgan in some ways. Takeshi, from Morgan's books, has a number of similarities to James, but I like James better since he has a conscience. Sure, he'll steal, but he takes no pleasure in killing. In both cases, you have an adept criminal who is a member of an elite government agency aimed at taking care of significant problems. Of course this idea probably predates Harry Harrison's books, too.
Regardless, it's a lot of fun, though there is one scene with intense violence. I'd recommend it.
There's some twee fun to be had here, a bouncy enough romp through spiking an interstellar invasion, but mainly it was just ok. It's the kind of book I'd suggest for my future children, except I wouldn't want them to think every woman is a buxom amazonian, fiercely independent up until the point where Jim capitulates, whereupon they melt again. He's definitely a rat. Reconstruct please.
The sequel to the "Stainless Steel Rat" does not disappoint - it's more of "Slippery Jim's" crazy exploits, more of his pompousness and incredibly high self confidence. The big difference is that "Revenge" is a lot more spy novel than caper novel. Basically, a zany James Bond among the stars type novel, complete with James Bond style villains. This isn't a problem, but I do think Slippery Jim works best when he's doing crime for sports, not dealing with a more serious subject matter (war and conquest).
Given the topic, it's no surprise that the book also felt a bit darker than the original, but it's always kept at a very teen level. This isn't a novel that makes you think about war or the nature of politics, though there is definitely a cold war social commentary buried in the narrative.
The SF elements didn't age very well, but are kept vague enough that it never becomes a problem.
All things said and done though this is another entertaining story, and the Stainless Steel Rat is quickly becoming one of my favorite SF characters. Definitely going to read the next book in the series. Rating is a very solid 3/5, "I liked it!" according to Goodreads' definition.
Another harum scarum romp for the Rat - he's given no time to adjust to married life and fatherhood but is abruptly sent off to stop an aggressive, imperialist power invading and colonising other planets and civilisations. The Stainless Steel Rat character is amusing and the story has pace, but you sense Harrison sells himself short, well short – we get pulp fiction when he could have written a more significant work. The story gets a bit simplistic – it really needs more sophistication. Harrison gets too caught up in producing a run-of-the-mill romp when he could have made it a real adventure. The closing chapters are abrupt and simplistic – readers deserve better. And, for a 1970 publication, it is seriously dated by its sexism – you feel Harrison must be able to write female roles better than this, as it stands, it makes his writing seem juvenile. And that probably answers the question I posed myself. I read this shortly after it was published - I was barely out of teenage, and I thought it was amusing. Now, as a twisted, bitter old codger reeling from experience of life, it is an unsatisfactory read, particularly as I really do feel he could have made the tale so much better.
Slippery Jim Di Griz gets married to Angelina and then has to stop a planet from invading other planets. Jim tries to infiltrate the regime and do some spy work, and ends up getting rescued by Angelina and then they both have a lot of fun saving the world(s) from the bad guys. I was a big fan of this series of books as a teenager, but since then I've changed, and the books, well they've dated reasonably well. Harry Harrison knows his audience, but it's very narrow, and the humour fades after a while. It's also a lot less clever this time around after a few intervening decades. Having said that, it's still not bad, HH tried to push a back a few social norms, this time gender equality, and there are worse books out there to read.
I'd never read any of the Stainless Steel Rat books so when one appeared cheap second hand, I decided to break my duck. Well, I can't say that I feel I've missed out all these years. This is an OK light read. Our hero is a sort of futuristic James Bond type, though given to a bit more moralising. His opponents seem to be a futuristic bunch of soviets by name and outlook. The plot moved quickly, but there were just a too few "and with one bound he was free" moments for my taste and the gadget angle was rather overplayed. I didn't think the sex role reversal planet, an old cliche, was dealt with in a particularly interesting way. In fact it was difficult to see what it added to the plot at all. I don't resent reading this, but I doubt whether I'll be back for more in much of a hurry.
(same write exactly as I did for the first book in the series) I could understand someone giving a 5 rating for this and I could understand a 1 rating too. It's not a deep book in any way but it neither wants to be nor does it pretend to be. It's a great comedy sci-fi romp, completely intended to make you giggle your way through a summer holiday on the beach. Its real selling point (to me) is that I think it's a pretty unique writing style and I don't know whether it was intended for a teen audience in the 60s but I think that's the likely audience now. You're unlikely to remember the story a couple of years from now but you'll enjoy reading it and have fond memories of having read it too.
This is a good, old fashioned, page turner. Sharp, swift, and straight to the point. The action barely lets up, and if there isn't a gag in every paragraph that's because there's probably two. Long descriptive passages? Forget it. Social commentary? Just a sprinkling. Ethical conundrums? Insufficient time. This is not a great book. It doesn't pretend to be, nor wish to be. It's a good book. A ripping yarn with a plenty of laughs. Pulp fiction - read it on a train or a plane, on a beach, or in front of a fire. I re-read this book to look at the technique. I enjoyed it as much as when I read it the first time just for fun.
Джеймс ди Гриз и възлюбената му Анджелина трябва да спрат планета, успешно извършила невъзможното (до този момент) - завладяването на други такива. Оказва се, че властта в родната планета на завоевателите е била завзета от тайнствените "сиви" - хора, за чиято родина не успява да разбере нищо. Тази линия явно продължава и в следващата книга. Типична книга за Джим, със своята незадълбоченост и забавни моменти. Последната сцена беше доста яка. Издразниха ме вездесъщите десетки видове гранати, от които Хлъзгавия никога не изпитва недостиг. Както и отсъствието на каквито и да е второстепенни персонажи, извън Анджелина, която макар и незастъпена особено, е вероятно единствения такъв.