Stainless Steel Rat

I had some spare time to do some leisure reading the other day, so I read the first three books dealing with the adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat, a series of sci-fi adventure stories by Harry Harrison. There is nothing particlarly deep, thought-provoking, or even any cool science in them. Yet I found myself enjoying them, perhaps for that very same reason.

The plot is basic and simple. James DiGriz is an interplanetary super-thief: never been caught, never failed to get what he is after. But he finally does get caught by a covert branch of the government known only as “The Corps”, sort of an interplanetary black ops that doesn’t even officially exist. His punishment? He has to join and become a field agent.

Overall the character is kind of a sci-fi James Bond, with similar always-keep-your-coolness and narrow escapes. One big difference is that he is quite monogamous, at least after he gets married in the second book. I can’t say I have read much by Harry Harrison, (isn’t it a little strange that he has the same first name and last name?) so I don’t know if that has more to do with the author’s preferences, or if that’s just how he chose to characterize the main character of these books.

So I read the first three that were published together in “The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat”. I liked the first two, and have little to criticize without getting nitpicky. The third one though, I’ll warn you. It deals with time-travel. I don’t know that I’ve ever read any sci-fi story that dealt with time travel in any sort of way that seemed realistic, (And that doesn’t even count the physics of it. When the author does choose to go into it, it’s even worse than the unbelievability of the effect-cause paradox) and this was no exception. But it was still overall an interesting story, and I enjoyed it. These are the kind of books I would suggest to someone flying overseas, where you need several books that will keep you entertained.

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2 Responses to Stainless Steel Rat

  1. Porter says:

    “I don’t know that I’ve ever read any sci-fi story that dealt with time travel in any sort of way that seemed realistic”

    I have one book to recommend, then. “Pastwatch” by Orson Scott Card deals with time travel in about the most believable way I have ever seen.

    Also, if you want to read some more sci-fi that’s just fun and nothing else, I sugges Phule’s Company by Robert Asprin. I haven’t ever read any Stainless Steel Rat, but everything I’ve heard about it has reminded me of Phule’s Company.

  2. Derek says:

    Ah. I had forgotten about Pastwatch. That was very realistic, in the sense that once you change the past, the future is forever and irrevocably changed. No going back. That’s it.

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