Stephen's Reviews > The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge

The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge by Harry Harrison
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Jul 13, 11

bookshelves: audiobook, comfort-food, science-fiction, rogues-and-scoundrels, 1970-1979, humor-and-satire
Read from July 11 to 13, 2011 — I own a copy

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.

Plot Summary

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.

5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie I just gave the rat one more star as a bonus just 'cause you're reading one! Forgot how much I enjoyed these til I saw you were reading one. comfort food is a good category !


Stephen This is only my second Rat escapade but he is turning into a real favorite of mine. I actually set up my "comfort food" shelf with this character in mind as these are the kinds of books that just make you smile.


message 3: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Better put Bill the Galactic Hero on your summer reading list too or he might get jealous of the rat.


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie If I had a comfort food shelf, the first book I'd put on there would be Practical Demonkeeping for exactly the same reason! Then I might have to put the rat somewhere very close nearby . . .

Stephen wrote: "I actually set up my "comfort food" shelf with this character in mind as these are the kinds of books that just make you smile."


message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Agreed: the Rat books are perfect for a nice, comforting read. I haven't read any of the Bill ones yet, but want to. I can heartily recommend "Star Slammers of the Galaxy Rangers" for a wacky transgalactic swashbuckling romp.


Nellyna Totaly agree! :)


Stephen Thanks, Nellyna.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

This story is fantastic. Love it. Adventure SF does not get any better.


message 9: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Definitely like your comfort food shelf idea.


message 10: by Crowinator (new)

Crowinator Great review! I should make a comfort reads shelf too. I read these books a long time ago when I was a kid and don't remember them well. I'll have to look for the first one because you make them sound so appealing. (c:


Stephen Thanks, Crowinator. If you do re-read them, I hope you like them. I need to update my review for the first one as I just re-read it enjoyed it much more the second time around.


Stephen Lisa O. wrote: "Definitely like your comfort food shelf idea."

Thanks, Lisa.


message 13: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Excellent review. I really enjoy this book series, I need to get cracking a few of the later ones.


Stephen John wrote: "Excellent review. I really enjoy this book series, I need to get cracking a few of the later ones."

Thanks, John.


message 15: by Terence (new)

Terence Stephen,

This has nothing to do with your review (very good, by the way) but I was motivated to look at your "comfort food" shelf and was surprised to see that you (apparently) haven't read any of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series. I think you might enjoy them.

Also, I see you have a lot of the Retief books on your shelf. I wish I could remember which ones I've read, I'd put them on my shelves but it's been too long. I do remember how much I enjoyed them, however.

And to bring this back to Harrison, you might want to hunt up a copy of Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers. For a newly pubescent lad in Missouri, this was quite an eye popper :-)


Stephen Terence-

I have not read the Dominic Flandry series, but I just read about the series and it looks like something I would enjoy. I Just ordered the omnibus containing the first three novels.

I have a copy of Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers but have not read it yet. I will move it up on my to be read list. Thanks for the heads up on these books.


message 17: by An Odd1 (new)

An Odd1 Your comfort shelf reminded me I liked Aspirin. I like David Weber short stories, not long Honorverse space opera. Chesney has my short silly sweet surprises. Are mystery, action or horror comforts too?


Stephen BibbleBabble wrote: "Your comfort shelf reminded me I liked Aspirin. I like David Weber short stories, not long Honorverse space opera. Chesney has my short silly sweet surprises. Are mystery, action or horror comforts..."

I think "comfort food" is probably different for each person and could probably be any genre. For me, it is not necessarily a "favorite" book but one that I could pick up over and over again and read when (1) I didn't want to think too hard and (2) needed or wanted something to make me smile.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Not only a "shame-on-you" shelf, but a "comfort-food" shelf. You are a treasure house of good ideas!

And also...I loved the Stainless Steel Rat, and am still verschmeckeled that no one's done a TV show of it.


message 20: by The Pirate Ghost (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) I got DiGriz on my comfort shelf.... 'cept I don't have a comfort shelf... but if I did, I'd have Degriz on it!


Stephen Hugh The Curmudgeon wrote: "I got DiGriz on my comfort shelf.... 'cept I don't have a comfort shelf... but if I did, I'd have Degriz on it!"

This is certainly a fun series that I love to come back to when the mood needs a shot of uplift.


Stephen Richard wrote: "Not only a "shame-on-you" shelf, but a "comfort-food" shelf. You are a treasure house of good ideas!

And also...I loved the Stainless Steel Rat, and am still verschmeckeled that no one's done a..."


This could be a great series. Not too tech heavy to have it get in the way of story and you just need the right lead to play DeGriz and someone who can write the Harrisonesque dialogue.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I need my own TV channel. On the Internet. Audiences are smaller, so costs have to be lower, but hey, omelettes in unbroken eggs are...ummm...eggs.


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