Star Surgeon

This is the 22nd in a series of Friday Forgotten Books

by James White, © 1963, 2nd in the Sector General series, science fiction

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.

~  ~  ~  ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more FFB reviews at her own blog,
and a complete list of today’s participating blogs.


About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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17 Responses to Star Surgeon

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I just finished HOSPITAL STATION which was, as you indicated, several short stories strung together. After finishing a couple of other books I have with me I’ll get to this one.

  2. Carl V. says:

    I was wondering when we would see this book two review. Jeff S. pointed out to me the other day that the copy of the book I got from my library was actually the second omnibus, so I had to order the first through interlibrary loan, thus delaying my getting to Hospital Station for a little while longer. I’m glad you are enjoying these and am holding out high hopes that I will as well.

  3. Bill Crider says:

    I remember reading and enjoying White back in the old days. Haven’t read anything by him in well over 40 years, though.

  4. Glad you’re enjoying the SECTOR GENERAL series, Rick. Plenty of good books slip under the radar. That’s why we read blogs!

  5. I read White a long time ago as well and Haven’t perused these books in a good many years. I may have to pull them out. Then again… I have so many to read the first time, which is why I limit rereading to a select few.

  6. Richard says:

    Jeff M. – Strung together or not, I liked that first book, and this one too.

    Carl V. – With the great John Harris covers, I’m surprised you didn’t buy these omnibus volumes. I got all three of them, but will start the second one after I’ve tried to read a few other things. (same problem as Randy mentions).

  7. Richard says:

    Bill – I was in just the right mood for some old fashioned space opera, I guess, though these are centered on the giant hospital ship. I really enjoyed them.

  8. Richard says:

    Randy – I have the same problem and thus reread infrequently as well. These are fun and fast, if you do decide to pull one out for a quick refresher.

  9. Evan Lewis says:

    Hm. I don’t like hospital books or hospital shows (except House) or hospitals period, but you make this sound pretty good.

  10. Carl V. says:

    I think that I probably would have picked them up had I ever noticed them in a bookstore. I don’t recall ever seeing these anywhere.

  11. Richard says:

    Evan – these aren’t like medical or hospital shows, they’re SF, pure and simple, that happens to take place in a multi-species healing space station.

  12. Richard says:

    Carl – I didn’t see them until I looked them up on-line.

  13. Carl v. says:

    So, you’ve changed my name now. ;0

  14. Carl V. says:

    The “Carl” in comment # 12 was “Varl” for awhile.

  15. Richard says:

    Oh? Are you SURE?

    heh heh heh heh heh heh heh…

  16. Carl V. says:

    I get the feeling I’m being gaslighted!

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