Friday, December 18, 2009

The Stainless Steel Rat - Harry Harrison

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The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.

This was another book loaned to me by yet another person working on the same floor at my secondment. Maybe they don't meet many other readers, or readers of genre. I had to practically fend off the book recommendations with a stick.

This was one of two books he loaned me. The other I got some twenty pages in and had to stop. In comparison, this book was a marvel.

It follows the Stainless Steel Rat, aka, Slippery Jim, aka many many names, one of the greatest criminals out there, and given the advances of civilisation and technology, one of very few criminals left at large. And he is a fantastic con man, I have to say. Quite impressed with all his heists and the audacity that comes naturally to him. He's a character that sits comfortably on 'cocky' without straying into 'arrogant'. Much to his horror, he appears to have some sense of social justice and even worse, a conscience! Not useful traits for criminals.

It's age is showing; the future predicted has already been well and truly jettisoned, but it remains a solid little story.

Unfortunately, it suffers in its depiction of women.

Holy fucking shit does it suffer.

And I'm about to spoil Madame Antagonist's key motivation, so if you're interested in reading look away for a moment-

Dude, she turns into the greatest and most ruthless criminal in the universe, one without conscience, because she was born ugly. Yeah. Surgery fixed that, but she was born ugly. That makes her bad. Because to be an ugly woman is to be an unperson, a worthless and pointless and useless woman, failing to be a proper woman because you have to be good looking to accomplish that. And the fact that she's beautiful now makes her worth saving.


Aside from that, yes, good tight and highly amusing bit of writing.

Verdict: I don't feel compelled to overlook that 'aside' however.

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