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The Stainless Steel Rat Returns Hardcover – August 3, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harrison returns to his long-running interstellar adventure series for the first time since 1999's The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus. Slippery Jim DiGriz, a thief and con artist, is enjoying a comfortable 35th-century life when his hick relatives show up, farm animals in tow, looking for a handout. Jim and his beloved wife, Angelina, are soon careening around to various backwater worlds where Jim hopes to ditch the unwanted kinfolk. The series' 1960s origins are most painfully obvious in the descriptions of a planet where the green-skinned, shiftless, slow-witted majority oppresses the smarter, slower-breeding, pink-skinned minority. Shocked not by the race wars but by the existence of races at all, Jim (himself quite pink) declares that the different skin colors "should have been bred out centuries ago." Modern readers are unlikely to find this tale appealing in any way.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Slippery Jim DiGriz has been retired from both interstellar intrigue and the printed page for nearly 10 years. Now a long-lost and unwelcome cousin arrives to spoil his cushy retirement on the planet Moneyplenty. The Stainless Steel Rat and his wife, Angelina, have to hit the spaceways to recoup their fortunes. This they do, after a long series of adventures, done with a satirical eye and a fine sense of how to keep the pacing fast. The Rat is a classic outlaw-as-hero type, the bandit with a heart of refined metal, and as such has become one of Harrison’s most enduring creations. Wherever there’s an audience for Slippery Jim, this latest tale should go on the shelves. --Roland Green
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Product Details

  • Series: Stainless Steel Rat (Book 12)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780765324412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765324412
  • ASIN: 0765324415
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,252,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I got about halfway through it and couldn't go on.
W. Bellant
Harrison is one of my all time favorite authors and this entry into the Stainless Steel Rat series isn't up to some of the early books, it is still a great ride.
TBrien
I finished this book last night after a 5 day reading binge.
Gavin Wigg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Ann Anderson on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm going to have to spend this comment taking apart the idiot and dullard of a professional book reviewer at Publisher's Weekly who tried unfairly to paint Harrison as a racist in his public review. It seems to be removed here But I'll post here anyway as I did at Barnes and Noble.
This is a bit spoilerish, just a warning...............

As he hasn't read the series much less Harrison's background from WWII where he worked with black soldiers as a Sgt. while their white jackass Officers were always giving them crap and trying to get them written up or jailed. Harrison wrote a long time ago about his experience of this, and how it was about time the day black soldiers got their equal rights and were desegregated in the military back in the late 40s when he was stationed in the south at a training base. Harrison has never been a racist.
The Reviewer quotes the one sentence where jim remarks:
> Jim (himself quite pink) declares that the different skin colors "should
> have been bred out centuries ago."

Firstly Jim is not pink. His race is never mentioned in the books, though he is generally portrayed as a white guy by artists on some covers and the comic book by creative license alone. Harrison (and he has said this before himself) always tried to keep race specifically vague for the main characters in his Rat books so that any reader identifies with them.
Jim mentioned that racial differences on the same planet and same continent were odd to him BECAUSE in his world (this series) humans had colonized the galaxy thousands of years ago.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chad Cloman on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't know where all the 5-star reviews have come from, because I'm having a hard time believing them. Harrison has taken everything good about the Stainless Steel Rat and left it out of this novel. Jim DiGriz is a con man, but there are no cons. He's also know for his fantastic robberies, but this book had none. He works for the Special Corps, saving the universe, but not here. Everything that's special about The Stainless Steel Rat is missing.

When I found out there was a new novel in the series, I was really excited. But reading it was a disappointment. The plot does not require Slippery Jim DiGriz -- it could have been any normal person facing difficulties in a future world. Harrison has let us down in this one.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Wigg on August 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished this book last night after a 5 day reading binge. The rat is back and he's wittier than ever. I laughed out loud constantly in the first few chapters, and was glued to the book after that. I would definitely start out with at least a few of the older stainless-steel-rat books first then read this one. Thank you Harry Harrison! This book is highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of Harry Harrison. I've read all of the Stainless Steel Rat books and at least half of his other books. I approached this book with great anticipation. It was at the very top of my Christmas list. Unfortunately, like the toy that looks so great on TV that you endlessly beg your parents for, the reality was disappointing.

When The Stainless Steel Rat is at its best, Slippery Jim DiGriz comes up with a creative way to turn his enemies' strengths against them. We've seen Jim win planetary elections, stop alien invasions, narrowly escape from dire situations, and capture some very smart, elusive crooks. Luck may occasionally intervene to help him along, but it's mostly his creativity that saves the day.

In The Stainless Steel Rat Returns, the same overly-confident, hard-drinking, wise-cracking Jim DiGriz is there, but when his back's up against the wall, he gets the perfect solution delivered to him on a shining silver platter. All he has to do is go through the motions... which might be what Harrison did to write this book.

For example (minor spoiler alert!), at one point in the book they "bloat" (jump) the spaceship to get away from bad guys and have no idea where they'll end up. The captain informs Jim that they have no fuel. He can collect more, but it will take three months. They don't have the air, water, or food for that long. This becomes a non-issue when they look out the window and see two planets. One has high gravity (making it a perfect place to scoop up gravitons, or fuel). The other has a breathable atmosphere, a livable (if warm) temperature, and a nice safe place to land. Oh, and it turns out a plant that looked like grass is actually a potato-like tuber.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert on June 24, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Unfortunately for many of those who have read previous SSR novels and those who haven't this title is a let down.

What I like best about the SSR series is the wit, novelty, and escapist thrill of the adventures. After finishing one adventure I wanted to read about the next one. While the Rat seems to always have Teflon attached to him (hence the nickname "Slippery Jim,") one still had the sense he could get himself in trouble. Not so, here. Our hero doesn't encounter any opponent or situation that he doesn't easily conquer.

Alas, in The SSR Returns, we seem to move from point A to point B to point C as if the author is just checking off a list of "go here, save day" and repeat. The SSR really doesn't want to be on this mission and neither do the readers. The SSR Returns starts with our hero being retired. I kind of wish he would have stayed that way.

Angelina, in name, tags along for the adventure. Her previous history is never brought up and you wouldn't think of her as more than a minor sidekick to the Rat. As for the sons, only one is ever mentioned, and that is as a plot device to transfer funds to his dad.

I read that someone thought that Harrison must be racist as he brings up the color of a different race in this novel. If you read about the author you will find this is not the case. One of the premises in the SSR series is that mankind has gotten along so well for so long that the human race has indeed become one big melting pot and that the color of a human's skin is pretty much the same around the universe. While never mentioned in the novels Harrison's take is that one's skin color probably is closer to an Asian than anyone else.

The Times Literary supplement once wrote "The Rat can hold his head high amongst the most elevated superhero company- Bulldog Drummond, James Bond and Flash Gordon included." I only wish that was still true today.
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