This is the 22nd in a series of Friday Forgotten Books
This second novel in the Sector General series – and in the omnibus edition I read it in – is less short-stories-pasted-together and more unified. It was initially published as a novelette and a short story, these were edited together so that it’s difficult to see the join.
Note: the cover shown here is from the Ballantine edition.
In this one, Dr. Conway, the continuing hero of the series, is called to a distant planet to help curb a series of epidemics. Unfortunately, politics come into play, and a heretofore unknown “Empire” of nearly 40 worlds feels threatened by the humanitarian efforts. To say more would be to give spoilers, but I found myself seeing some parallels to some present-day situations both in terms of disaster relief and political politics. Imagine what might happen if a large Red Cross hospital in some country was identified by that country’s government as a secret munitions factory and spy sanctuary for the imperialist Americans. The red cross on the side of the building might not be much protection for the staff inside, and that’s what happens here.
This novel is a little more serious than the first one, Hospital Station, and there’s quite a bit of military SF added to the medical scene, all again handled very nicely by the author. There are a few corny moments, when White introduces a love story, but that’s minimal and it does serve to give the reader a moment to catch breath.
This is another very enjoyable 1960s-era hard science fiction novel and again I’m amazed that somehow this series had slipped under my radar.
Look for the review of the third volume and comments on the Omnibus edition, soon.
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