Books

Short works

Books : reviews

James White.
Deadly Litter.
Corgi. 1964

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Grapeliner. 1964
The Ideal Captain. 1964
The Lights Outside the Windows. 1964
Deadly Litter. 1964

James White.
The Aliens Among Us.
Corgi. 1969

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Countercharm. 1960
(Sector General) Conway gets his first permanent Educator tape, and falls in love with a crablike Melfian.
To Kill or Cure. 1969
Red Alert. 1969
Tableau. 1969
The Conspirators. 1969
The Scavengers. 1969
Occupation: Warrior. 1969

James White.
Monsters and Medics.
Corgi. 1977

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Second Ending. 1961
Counter Security. 1963
Dogfight. 1959
Nuisance Value. 1975
In Loving Memory. 1956

James White.
Futures Past.
Del Rey. 1982

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Commuter. 1972
Why is the polite young man so interested in the old lady?
Spacebird. 1973
Assisted Passage. 1953
Curtain Call. 1954
Boarding Party. 1955
Patrol. 1957
Fast Trip. 1963
Question of Cruelty. 1956
False Alarm. 1957
Dynasty of One. 1955
Outrider. 1955

James White, ed.
The White Papers.
NESFA Press. 1996

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 15 January 1999

A collection of some of James White's best short fiction, and of his early fan-writing. The short fiction is great -- most of it I've seen in other collections, but some of it I read here for the first time. Although he's best know for his Sector General stories, the others here demonstrate the range of his skills. I found the fan writing, mostly about early SF conventions, less interesting. But it is well written, and I suspect if you know the people involved, it would be riveting. The notes on Sector General and the classification system are detailed and useful.

Contents

Commuter. 1972
Why is the polite young man so interested in the old lady?
Medic. == O'Mara's Orphan. 1960
(Sector General) During the building of Sector General, despised construction worker O'Mara is forced to baby-sit a one-ton orphaned Hudlarian infant.
Visitor at Large. 1959
(Sector General) A melting SRTT and its panicked infant cause chaos.
Countercharm. 1960
(Sector General) Conway gets his first permanent Educator tape, and falls in love with a crablike Melfian.
Accident. 1983
(Sector General) MacEwan and Grawlya-Ki are frustrated in their attempts to bring the Federation together. Then the Accident occurs.
Custom Fitting. 1976
A traditional tailor gets the commission of his life when the new ambassador arrives
House Sitter. 1996
Devastated by the loss of his wife, Alan goes to stay in a house in the country, where he meets its mysterious housekeeper
Sanctuary. 1988
The nuns insist on giving their injured visitor sanctuary, which turns the eyes of the world upon them
Christmas Treason. 1962
Some talented youngsters try to discover the secret of Santa at the North Pole, and misunderstand the missile bases...
The Secret History of Sector General. 1996
An expanded version of the account in Ambulance Ship
The Last Time I Saw Harris. 1952
The Beacon. 1953
The Not-So-Hot Gospeller. 1956
The Long Afternoon of Harrogate. 1963
The History of IF #3. 1957
The Quinze-y Report. 1958
Fester on the Fringe. 1961
The Exorcists of IF. 1987
The Unreal George Affair. 1990
Gary Louie. Sector General Timeline. 1996
Gary Louie. The Classification System. 1996

James White.
Hospital Station.
Corgi. 1962

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Trouble With Emily. 1962
Medic. == O'Mara's Orphan. 1960
(Sector General) During the building of Sector General, despised construction worker O'Mara is forced to baby-sit a one-ton orphaned Hudlarian infant.
Sector General. 1962
Visitor at Large. 1959
(Sector General) A melting SRTT and its panicked infant cause chaos.
Out-Patient. 1962

James White.
Major Operation.
Ballantine. 1971

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Invader. 1966
Vertigo. 1968
Blood Brother. 1969
Meatball. 1969
Major Operation. 1970

James White.
Ambulance Ship.
Del Rey. 1979

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Contagion. 1950
Quarantine. 1979
Recovery. 1979

James White.
Sector General.
Orbit. 1983

(read but not reviewed)

Contents

Accident. 1983
(Sector General) MacEwan and Grawlya-Ki are frustrated in their attempts to bring the Federation together. Then the Accident occurs.
Survivor. 1983
Investigation. 1983
Combined Operation. 1983

James White.
The Galactic Gourmet.
Tor. 1996

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 26 May 1997

A recurring scene in the Sector General stories is the staff canteen, where Diagnosticians, living with several alien educator tapes, try to find some kind of food that revolts none of the wildly-diverse species sharing their heads. So eventually we had to have a story about the food.

Gurronsevas, an FGLI Tralthan gourmet master chef, has found a new challenge: improving hospital food. The first half of the book shows him making small improvements to various diets, but also causing various calamities. Eventually, he has to be removed from the hospital for a while, to let things, and people, calm down. O'Mara cunningly assigns him to the First Contact ambulance vessel Rhabwar, on a mission to Wem, where ecological catastrophe has caused civilisation to collapse, but the surviving natives are refusing aid. Naturally, food is the problem and Gurronsevas provides the solution.

Part of the fun comes from meeting all our old friends again. Although Conway has only a cameo role, Prilicla, O'Mara and Murchison feature throughout. The rest of the fun comes from the descriptions of all the aliens, and from trying to solve the puzzles before the characters do (which isn't all that hard in this case, actually). Classic Sector General stuff.

James White.
Final Diagnosis.
Tor. 1997

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 29 August 1998

Final Diagnosis links in well with the series as a whole, being a follow-up to the war described in Star Surgeon, in that Patient Hewlitt was born on the planet that was once Etla the Sick. [There is a little too much recapitulation of that back story for my taste -- if you want to start in at volume 10 of a near-40-year-old series (both real-time and story time), you deserve not to understand what's going on!] Hewlitt's problem is that no-one will believe he's sick, until Prilicla finally solves the puzzle. But by then, his disease is loose in Sector General, and it can cross the species boundary, potentially threatening the entire Federation...

Well, I'm afraid that I am just as bad as all those doctors in Sector General: they are more interested in "juicy ETs" than they are in their own species -- and so am I. Because the protagonist of this latest puzzle is a human DBDG, I find myself a little disappointed. But there are still some good ET scenes, such as the games of scremman with the other patients, and the Tralthan couple's reactions to the pet kitten.

James White.
Mind Changer.
Tor. 1998

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 2 October 1999

What's this then? I downgrade Final Diagnosis because it is about only a human DBDG, and not about juicy ETs -- but I'm marking Mind Changer highly, yet it too is about a human DBDG? Ah yes, but it's not just any human DBDG; it's about Sector General's inimitable Chief Psychologist, O'Mara himself.

Despite a few preliminary stories, the Sector General series really starts with "Medic", set during the construction of the famous hospital -- which tells how O'Mara got his prestigious position in the first place. Since then we have really seen him only from others' points of view, as he ensures, by fair means or foul, that all the diverse strong personalities in the hospital stay reasonably sane. Now we get a whole book from his point of view. Marvellous.

It is time for O'Mara to retire. (This series is nearly 40 years old, and the characters' time has progressed in step with real time. In a very real sense, I've grown up with these people.) First, he has to select and train his replacement. In trying to decide who to select, he is forced into thinking about his own selection all those years ago, in a series of flashbacks. So, as well as the senior doctors in the current smoothly running hospital (modulo the current desperate crisis, naturally), we get to see a young uncertain O'Mara, a trainee Thornnastor, and Sector General just beginning to be populated and take shape. We also find out why O'Mara is quite as blunt and forthright as he is.

Brilliant piece of retconning.

James White.
Double Contact.
Tor. 1999

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 3 September 2000

Dr Prilicla, along with his medical staff of Pathologist Murchison, shape-changing Dr Danalta, and Kelgian Charge Nurse Naydrad, are sent off into the unknown in ambulance ship Rhabwar, to answer a distress beacon from the Monitor Corps ship itself sent to answer two other beacons. They find not just dire medical emergencies, but a bungled First Contact operation they must repair -- and once that's sorted out, they discover their problems are only just starting...

More fun with old friends, and some lovely alien medical problems. This time it's mainly from the PoV of the empathic Prilicla, so we have an interesting juxtaposition of what everyone is saying and what they are actually feeling.