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The Stainless Steel Rat

(Stainless Steel Rat (Publication Order) #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  13,598 ratings  ·  460 reviews
In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own
Mass Market Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 1998 by Orion (first published 1961)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  13,598 ratings  ·  460 reviews

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Mark Lawrence
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book to read. Pulp sci-fi written in 1961 and reprinted dozens of times. First in a successful and long running series. My copy comes from the late 80s when it was selling very well.

The main points of interest for me were how poor a prediction of future technology it was, and how badly sci-fi was written 55 years ago.

The Stainless Steel universe has the 'standard' many-times-faster-than-light travel, instant communication (via psychic telephone men this time), and highly

To understand the unique brilliance and enduring popularity of the Stainless Steel Rat, it’s important to understand the world in which these stories take place. It is the far future and genetic manipulation and controls have bred the “malcontent” or “criminal” gene out of humanity...all but a few anyway. Society is sterile, homogenous and lifeless.

Shattering the status quo is James Bolivar DiGriz (aka The Stainless Steel Rat) and his roguish, adventure-filled criminal schemes. He is an exc
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of To Catch a Thief, Ocean's Eleven
Recommended to carol. by: Eric
First, notice the cover. Do you know why my review copy looks so different from the one you may have read? Published 1970, baby, this edition comes courtesy of the local library system. Let’s give it up for the librarians, shall we, the ones who track down my ridiculous requests for books published before I was (figuratively, of course, my dears). I like to think of myself as the real life equivalent of the heroine in Bellwether, who was on a mission to check out unused books so that they wouldn ...more
Right up front, I'm going to tell you that this is a book that is about to suffer for being judged out of time. By me.

Now, I'm not usually the type to notice offenses to the feminist cause in everything, but I couldn't help but find this book, and its depiction of literally the ONLY female character in it (besides prostitutes, that is, but they don't count) ridiculous in the worst way. As soon as the "secretary" was mentioned, and it was - of course - assumed that she must be working for a male
Richard Derus
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, returned
Rating: 3* of five

Distastefully sexist, but 58 years old. (The book, not the reviewer.) (Although I'm regularly informed of my innate inferiority of character due to sexism.)

It was a modest amount of fun reading it because I like capers. "Slippery Jim" diGriz plans a fun caper indeed, thrice in fact, and I had no problem seeing how to modernize the capers. Still and all, I can't really think of a reason to read the book if you haven't already because there's really nothing substantive to be gain
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Great setup for what would become sci-fi grandmaster Harry Harrison's most enduring series and character, Jim diGriz, AKA the Stainless Steel Rat. Funny, clever and daring, he makes the perfect inter-galactic rogue extraordinaire in a galaxy that's been mostly purged of crime thanks to scientific advancements that enable the early detection and elimination of deviant personality traits. He stays one step ahead of the authorities, constantly moving on to his next scam on a new planet w ...more
Juho Pohjalainen
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good action, clever spy thriller and a bunch of crime geniuses that actually come across as smart, and a sympathetic main character, all more than make up for the relatively petty shortcomings of slightly uneven plotting and shallow universe. I believe I will keep up with the series.
Jason Koivu
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a fun, action-packed good time
Recommended to Jason by: Stephen, he of many reviews
Shelves: sci-fi, humor
A fun, entertaining and, above all else, quick read. Just what the doctor ordered after finishing the mammoth tome that is A Game of Thrones. This Sci-Fi lite-meets-hardboiled cop dramedy makes for a nice, mindless distraction. It probably only deserves 3 stars (this ain't Shakespeare, folks!), but I'm willing to bump it up a full star more for the pure enjoyment of it all. Some will consider the writing so-so or even subpar, while others will complain of stereotypical characters (I actually enj ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of sci-fi classics
What we have here is a time capsule from 1961, when Harrison, the author of Make Room! Make Room!, wrote a pulpy sci-fi adventure as an homage to prototypical science fiction adventures of an even earlier era.

While this didn't age as well as one would hope, and may get knocked down by fans of more contemporary science fiction on that account, I enjoy occasionally looking back in time and reading influential genre works, as they give a glimpse into how the genre was built and evolved into what i
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice blast from the past, a fast moving space opera with a wonderful main character, Slippery Jim DiGriz. He's a thief, con man, liar, but a pretty good & nice guy for all that. Just a bit of a square peg in the round holes of the future. This was the first book published & might be the best book, although the next one The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge is a very close second.

While this is shelved as SF, the universe is very much a 1960's vision of the future. Punch cards are still use
Kat  Hooper
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

"At a certain stage, the realization strikes through that one must either live outside of society’s bonds or die of absolute boredom. There is no future or freedom in the circumscribed life and the only other life is complete rejection of the rules. There is no longer room for the soldier of fortune or the gentleman adventurer who can live both within and outside of society. Today it is all or nothing. To save my own sanity, I chose nothing."

In the future
Sep 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: stainless steel rats, hot killer babes with battlecruisers
"Slippery" Jim DiGriz is a rogue in a society that is a peaceful, plentiful utopia and has mostly bred antisocial behavior away. That leaves men like DiGriz bored and, unable to cope with society any other way, they plan capers. Since there are so few people like him, there is a Special Corps dedicated to stopping these nefarious ne'er do wells.

After a bank heist and a scam that turns the wrong way, DiGriz gets captured, and recruited into the Corps. Of course. Takes a thief to catch a thief, an
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I was surprised to find how well this book stands up after all these year. I hadnt read Harry Harrison before so i didnt expect it to be this good.
It was raw quality with fun adventure, great satirical humour,ingenious plot twists. Good action too. The ideal fun space adventure i was looking for.

Slippery Jim himself is an awesome character to read and memorable. His strong first person narrative carried the book very well. Every thought,word from him was interesting. He made me smile by the kind
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2nd reading.

Shame, this seemed so much better in my teens.

Still holds some magic but the majority must have escaped through a hole in the pocket of my flairs.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction

Excellent SF caper novel. The successors get steadily worse, but #1 is definitely worth reading.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I was a child in short trousers, I used to stare fascinated at the various ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ adventures on the bookshelves at W.H.Smiths. I don’t quite know what intrigued me so much. Perhaps it was the cover, which I remember as a square jawed man in a futuristic space-suit dropping from the sky. Or maybe it was the name, as I thought the term “stainless steel rat” seemed impossibly cool (if I’m honest, I’m still of that belief). Whatever the reason, I would stand there and stare at th ...more
I was never particularly attracted by this book before, but when Ryan from SpecFic Junkie was reading it, he got me intrigued. I wasn’t going to buy it, in case it remained not-my-thing, but actually it’s pretty fun. Slippery Jim is basically a Vlad Taltos/Locke Lamora of sci-fi: a loveable rogue, ultimately reluctant to do real harm, and sort of kind of on the side of right. It’s a pretty short book, or the tone might start to grate, and there were one or two things I disliked about the portray ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I think the fact that it's taken me a week to get through a third of this short book is a fair indication of my total lack of interest, so I'm giving up.

I read this and a couple more of the series back in my teens and remember enjoying them well enough. And I can't really say there's anything about it that's actually annoying me this time round. It's just a pulp crime caper set in space and good enough at being that. But it's not special - I don't understand why it seems to be hailed as some kin
I read this book for the first time back in the early 90s, while at university. We had a fantastic book shop where you could give back books you'd read to help fund your new purchases. I introduced myself to a lot of previously unread science-fiction authors thanks to that shop, but I also read through a lot of great series that way too. Strangely, I never went any further with the stainless steel rat series, although I remembered loving the first book – and I gave it four stars based on that me ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars

Finally I could read this classic. It was my second Harry Harrison's work and I find it quite different for the masterwork Make Room, Make Room!. The Stainless Steel Rat was a light reading with an ironic criticism about human nature, but no the devastating warning that was the other.

A thief turned space agent 007esque style has to stop an interestellar mass murder. A light reading, curiously it remembers me the Spanish pulps I read when I was a very young space cadet (it occurs me t
Ken Magee
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Stainless Steel Rat introduced me to comedy sci-fi many, many years ago. It opened up a whole new genre which, in turn, led me to comedy fantasy. I'm very grateful to Harry Harrison for that.

I remember the plot as being somewhat convoluted, but it boiled down to master conman turns cop... and falls in love. I recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of fun, I plan to re-read it soon.

Rosemary Standeven
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love all the Stainless Steel Rat books, and have read each one many times. I cannot recommend them highly enough
A perfectly good work of retro science-fi pulp. The main character gave me Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy vibes. I just think it was pretty forgettable for me. I think people who really love this series do so because they read it as a kid/teen in the 60s or 70s. Reading it for the first time as a grown woman living in 2020 didn't do it for me.
This was entertaining but not as good as 'Make Room! Make Room!' by the same author. But then again, the comparison is not fair as 'Make Room! Make Room!' is more serious than this. But reading 'SS Rat' once won't make you regret it.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know why but I was expecting something more like vintage space opera from the 30's and was surprised to find this was actually written in the mid '60s and still feels fresh.

This is light, fast-moving, edge of your seat stuff that you will whip through in no time. A charming, loveable rogue protagonist is nearly impossible not to engage with. While he think's he's clever, he still gets outsmarted on quite a regular basis, his fallibility only making him more likable. There is very little
Peter Tillman
An SF/humor classic. Here's the short story that kicked the whole thing off, in 1957:

"When the office door opened suddenly I knew the game was up. It had been a money-maker - but it was all over. As the cop walked in I sat back in the chair and put on a happy grin. He had the same sombre expression and heavy foot that they all have - and the same lack of humour. I almost knew to the word what he was going to say before he uttered a syllable.

'James Bolivar
Austin Wright
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing want to read Sci-Fi Comedy (A Sub-Genre that I personally despise), then I recommend this book. I do not recommend Douglas Adams' series at all, and this book is better and more comical than all five of Adams' Hitchhiker series.

Strong characters! Will continue reading the series!
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book aged very well - probably because it focused more on the characters and the caper - and those are timeless.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: space, digital, audio, sf
{1.5 rounded down}
I simply could not connect to this book or its main protagonist who could do no wrong in all of his wrongdoings in such a praising way annoyed me just too much to really bother.
Jun 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This is definitely the best pulp scifi I have ever read!

There are no actual rats, steel or otherwise, in this story (I have to admit I was a bit disappointed about that); the stainless steel rat is the protagonist and narrator's metaphor for his chosen role in society -- slipping between the cracks and taking what he wants. In the far future it's harder to do this, as society is run by experts who maintain peace and abundance and who cull potential criminals from the population. Thus one can't j
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was an American science fiction author best known for his character the The Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973). He was also (with Brian W. Aldiss) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction G

Other books in the series

Stainless Steel Rat (Publication Order) (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge (Stainless Steel Rat, #5)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World (Stainless Steel Rat, #6)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! (Stainless Steel Rat, #7)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat for President (Stainless Steel Rat, #8)
  • A Stainless Steel Rat is Born (Stainless Steel Rat, #1)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted (Stainless Steel Rat, #2)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues (Stainless Steel Rat, #3)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell (Stainless Steel Rat, #9)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus (Stainless Steel Rat, #10)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Returns (Stainless Steel Rat, #11)

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