James White's Sector General stories.

James White, "Double Contact"

2014-04-16 · in Books, Sector General · 40 words

The final Sector General novel. Back to the regular form from the earlier stories, with a reasonable medical mystery to solve and a selection of novel aliens — and it's written from Prilicla's perspective (not a minute too soon).

James White, "Mind Changer"

2014-04-14 · in Books, Sector General · 40 words

... and finally we get a story starring O'Mara. General opinion seems to be that this is one of the strongest books in the series, and I'd agree; there's considerable skill both in plotting and characterisation at work here.

James White, "Final Diagnosis"

2014-04-13 · in Books, Sector General · 38 words

Sector General from a patient's point of view.

I was pleased to have worked out the mystery fairly early on in this one — although I did have the advantage of having read the preceding books recently...

James White, "The Galactic Gourmet"

2014-04-12 · in Books, Sector General · 50 words

I suspect James White might have felt the series was getting a bit too serious after the last two books. In this story, Gurronsevas — who appears to be Traltha's answer to Alexis Soyer — resolves to improve the standard of Sector General's catering. Mixed results ensue. Suitably amusing stuff.

James White, "General Practice"

2014-03-31 · in Books, Sector General · 149 words

The third Sector General omnibus. As the introduction points out, Conway is now (mostly) too senior to have adventures, so we have two new protagonists, and more of a focus on O'Mara's psychology department.

Code Blue — Emergency (1987) has substantially stronger writing and characterisation than the earlier stories (helped by not being a fix-up novel), and I really liked the setting. It even passes the Bechdel test!

The Genocidal Healer (1991) is excellent — it goes off in a surprising philosophical direction, albeit one that would have been quite topical at the time, given that James White was from Belfast. It was nice to see Khone getting some of the best lines here.

Again, a POD book; variable print quality and some OCR errors, but probably better on average than the previous two. There's no in-print omnibus of the rest of the series, so I've ordered individual copies...

James White, "Beginning Operations"

2014-03-25 · in Books, Sector General · 93 words

I've never been very good at reading series in the right order — this is the first Sector General anthology, not the one I read a couple of weeks ago, and it includes the only one of the novels that I'd read beforehand.

The science and engineering stands up very well; the gender attitudes less so, particularly in Star Surgeon (1963). Will we ever find out Murchison's first name?

This is also a POD book, and the print quality's fine this time, but the text suffers badly from missing words and typos.

James White, "Alien Emergencies"

2014-03-01 · in Books, Sector General · 150 words

The second anthology in the current edition of the Sector General novels, set in the central hospital of a galactic civilisation with a combination of easy FTL travel and an enormous variety of intelligent alien species. We follow human doctor Conway and his only-occasionally-human colleagues as they work out how to cater to the unusual medical needs of their patients.

The characterisation is paper-thin, and I still don't really have much idea of what a Hudlar or a Tralthan actually looks like, but that's not really the point; the author's interested in what you can do with a space-opera-like setting where conflict is rare, and there's some nice consideration here of how unusual alien civilisations could work.

The only complaint I've got is that this is a print-on-demand book — and as usual, the quality is appalling! Anyone would think Amazon were trying to kill off the paper book...