The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Kindled


Aeon McNulty e-mailed to say ‘Why haven’t you told people about Harry’s books being released for Kindle?’ The answer to that is: Ignorance. On my part. I didn’t know they’d been released.

So the good news is that a whole heap of HH titles have been issued by Gateway (Gollancz/Orion):

A Stainless Steel Rat is Born
The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You!
The Stainless Steel Rat For President

The Men from P.I.G and R.O.B.O.T
The Technicolor Time Machine
Queen Victoria’s Revenge
Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers
Tunnel Through the Deeps (A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!)
Captive Universe
Planet of the Damned
A Rebel in Time

West of Eden

Stars & Stripes Forvever
Stars & Stripes in Peril

Deathworld 2
Deathworld 3


Presumably there are more to come — they wouldn’t release incomplete trilogies, would they?

More good news is that the prices are pretty good: £2.99 and £4.99 in the UK, $4.74 and $7.93 in the US.

The bad news is that first reviews of some of the titles indicate that Gateway have done a bit of a half-arsed job of preparing the texts for the e-versions. One reviewer has said the title he looked at seemed to have been OCR’d and not corrected, so there are all kinds of odd characters and errors littering the pages. I haven’t looked at any of these myself yet, but it would be a shame if Gateway haven’t taken time to do the job properly. I’ve OCR’d a lot of stuff in the past — including all of HH’s short stories — and the files need a certain amount of tidying up before they’re ready for consumption, but a half-way decent copy-editor can do it pretty quickly.

I’m off to dowload the Kindle version of West of Eden now to check it out…

PS: Anyone who leaves a comment on this post pointing out that there’s a typo in it will receive a poke in the eye by e-mail…  ; )

11 Responses to “The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Kindled”

  1. Paul Tomlinson Says:

    Okay, just had a quick flick through West of Eden on the Kindle: text actually seems pretty good, and it even includes the Bill Sanderson illustrations, albeit in slighly murky scans.

    The only thing I think may be missing are the non-standard accents used in the Yilane language.

  2. Chris Says:

    Although I prefer books myself, I know several Kindled’ people who are going to love this news. Thanks for the info.

    • Paul Tomlinson Says:

      Yeah, I’m a book person too — having qualified as a librarian and also worked as a bibliographer. But I also project managed the introduction of e-books in one of the lesser UK universities, and having access to masses of texts — and being able to search across the full text of them all — is pretty cool. I discovered some obscure HH references that I would never have found otherwise.

      I’ve also kept a professional eye on e-book readers since Sony’s first attempts, and I think the latest Kindle is pretty much perfect, with or without the keyboard. I replaced some of my book collection with e-versions to make space on my shelves for new books!

      I also want to try out an iPad for larger format and colour texts. Having played around with tablet PCs since the days of Windows XP, and tried out an Android tablet, I think the iPad looks like a good bet in terms of size and weight.

      So actually I’m a book person and a gadget person. What a geek. : )

      • Burin Says:

        Since you kept a professional eye on ebook-readers and mentioned the Kindle I’d like you to ask some questions about it. While I am generally a total book person too I recently started to think about getting an ebook-reader and the latest Kindle looks very promising.
        But I need to know if it is possible to manage, upload and download ebooks/documents from your computer to the Kindle and if it is really able to show PDF-files. I know it can handle PDF-files among others, but are they displayed somehow crappy or not? And if you have one that is in horizontal format can that be read on the Kindle too or is it even possible to rotate the Kindle for 90° to use it in horizontal format? And how are grafics inside a (PDF) file displayed on the Kindle? Its not important to me that they are displayed at all, but if not is it just empty space?
        And finally if a (PDF) file has a pretty big format is it always scaled down to “Kindle-size” or can you read it in uhm original size and ‘move’ the whole page on the display?
        Thanks you very much in advance.
        PS: If you wont answer my questions I’ll mention the toilet seat. 😛 😉

      • Paul Tomlinson Says:

        Questions, questions always questions… and these aren’t even about Harry Harrison…

        And the toilet seat story is on the HH website — you just have to know where to look — so that’s an empty threat! 😛

        However, since no one else will read this, I shall share my thoughts on the Kindle.

        I have used both the original Kindle — screen not great, design ugly. And the second generation — which I think is pretty much a near-perfect e-book reader for text but not images.

        In answer to your questions:

        You can transfer files from your PC using the USB cable — works fine, with free e-books and loaing pdfs. Your Kindle also has an e-mail address which you can e-mail documents to, and I think there’s also some conversion done on Amazon’s servers — but I haven’t tried this.

        You can rotate the image on the Kindle’s screen, so you can have portrait or landscape views of a page.

        Images are greyscaled but okay — imagine a decent b & w photocopy — and appear in all the documents I’ve tried so far.

        In theory you can also access the web on the Kindle and view web pages or access e-mail. Haven’t tried this. Presumable this isn’t available on the new keyboardless version of the Kindle? Maybe someone can tell us. I have a wifi only model – couldn’t justify the extra cost of 3G, and haven’t missed it. Haven’t tried the text to speech or the audio book (Mp3) option either.

        Viewing PDFs is a bit hit and miss. Even with text-only PDFs I’ve had some issues — Mike Carroll sent me a proof of one of his books in pdf and when I enlarged the text the lines split across a line and a half on the screen, which made reading it a pain. (But obviously Mike’s book was great.)

        Other pdfs appear in full page on the Kindle screen, so too small to read comfortably. You can switch to horizontal view and see the top half of the page and scroll down to see the rest — doesn’t really work if you have a multi-column magazine page though. And yes, you can zoom in 150, 200 etc percent and full size, and use an onscreen ‘frame’ to move to the parts of the page you want to read.

        My personal opinion is that the Kindle is not an ideal device for reading pdfs — for pdf books it is just about okay; magazines aren’t great, and comics don’t really look great unless they’re b & w to begin with.

        Big pdfs need a bigger screen and probably colour — especially comics and magazines, and non-fiction books with lots of images. This is my argument for going out and buying an iPad… : )

        I bought the ‘official’ leather cover with mine – looks neat and fits well, but I took it off after a couple of days because it makes the device bulkier and heavier. Mine lives in a five quid (seven euro?) neoprene sleeve.

        I’ve bought a lot of gadgets over the years that have ended up in a drawer gathering dust, but this one feels like a keeper. It lives on a pile of real books by my bed most of the time — it’s not something I would use on my daily commute to work. Mainly because I drive myself to work.

        I’m now feeling an urge to create a free Kindle book myself. Or a fanzine — that woud take me back to 1984 and my HH fanzine ‘Make Room!’ (lasted two issues, then became ‘Parallel Worlds,’ which lasted for eight). Then I did a non-HH fanzine called ‘Other Times’ that lasted 12 issues, and then someone invented the internet and I started messing about with e-content. I miss Letraset and the days when ‘cut n paste’ was a literal action. And fanzine pages had to be copied and collated… [sigh]

        And, Mr. Bache, if you tell me you weren’t even born in 1984 I’m sending you that poke in the eye by e-mail… ; )

      • Burin Says:

        Wow, thank you VERY much for your long thorough reply!
        But what’s up with that toilet seat you mentioned? I have no clue about that… 😉
        Hm yeah, I have heard about the ‘PDF-issue’ on the Kindle. So the iPad might be better for this and especially those in a big format. Well, it feels sorta like an overkill to have an iPad just for ebooks. I do not really want and need it for anything else. Hm, hm, have to see. Still undecided.
        The PDF-files I have to read are not magazines or comics tho. If the grafics aren’t shown at all that would not matter. But some have multiple columns and a lot are in horizontal and big format so the issue with the lines could be a big problem.
        Might have to see if I can test a Kindle somewhere.
        But you’ve been a big help so thanks again. You earned yourself a glass of Syrian Panther Sweat. 😉
        Oh, and in ’84 I was 10 and a huge fan of the anime tv-series Captain Future and the classic Star Trek. That was all sci-fi I knew back then.

  3. Bob N Says:

    What a delight! A bunch of HH titles I haven’t been able to find at my local used bookshops.(very happy about The Men from P.I.G and R.O.B.O.T). Plus I assume Harry gets a cut! Love to see the entire back catalog available.

    • Paul Tomlinson Says:

      Yes, these are legit e-books and Harry does makes some money from them.

      I’m sure there are more to come, though whether we’ll see all of Harry’s books Kindled I’m not sure: rights may be tied up with other publishers for some titles. We shall have to wait and see.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I took a look at a couple of these – remember that you can download samples free of charge which are the first 10% of the book.

    It didn’t take long into the first sample before I found an OCR typo: “‘Gear the area,’ an amplified voice bellowed” [The men from PIG and ROBOT sample, location 98] – should be “Clear”.

    Clearly (Gearly?) the books have been OCR’d and spell checked, but not actually proof read by a human.

  5. Glenn West Says:

    Really want to share the Stainless Steal Rat Book 1 on Kindle (And the rest would be great). I want to re-read and my 10 year old has determined HH is one of her favorite authors.

  6. Rich Says:

    I would like to see the first Stainless Steel Rat book(s) on Kindle–like the three books in The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. I can’t find them, either at Amazon or anywhere else.

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