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Hospital Station (Sector General, book 1) by James White
james_nicoll


Hospital Station (Sector General, book 1) by James White

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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I'm surprised TV hasn't adapted this series. ("ER In Space! We can get Noah Wyle to play Conway! And there's a blonde with cleavage!")

I suspect the SFX and costuming/make-up budget necessary spiked any thought of it until very recently.

-- Steve'd love to see a good adaptation; hey, Netflix...

Hey, every Kelgian actor in Hollywood will try out for it!

Kelgians rarely make it in Hollywood: they lack vital bullshitting skills.

They really suck at elevator pitches.

Babylon 5 and Star Trek:Deep Space 9 did some of the same things as subplots. And not always with happy results.

A friend turned me on to White's series probably 30 years ago, and I do enjoy them. He had a good vision for what medicine could be like in such an environment.

Anyone know whether E. E. Smith's classification of species type in Lensman was influenced or influenced White's or were they completely separate. I remember Palanians' (and I think most ultra frigid types') classification started with Z and I thought the same would be true in Sector General.

I also remember another author made an homage to the system by referring to humans with the same 4 letter code as White users, but I have forgotten which author.

White borrowed it from Smith, but made his own adjustments. Smith's system used humans as baseline, so AAAAAAAAAA... was an Earth-originating standard human, and it went from there.

White had a more objective system where the first letter was the level of physical evolution--assuming most life started in oceans, moved to land, later acquired flight--and then the really weirder ones, the second letter was for the general type and distribution of limbs and sensory organs, and the last two letters in combination described the metabolism, pressure, and gravity requirements of the species. Humans were DBDG.

The major difference between the two was that White's was really meant to quickly sort out what type of environment a species needed to live in rather than a detailed description of the species itself. There were at least two, and possibly three other species that appeared in the novels (it was unsure if one species had evolved separately or had come from transplanted humans) that shared the human DBDG classification.

Jim was a regular guest/attendee of the Glasgow Albacons back in the 1980s. The local fan group that put them on was called the Friends of Kilgore Trout. As a tribute and group Tuckerisation he invented a race, classification FOKT which consisted of plaid-coloured alien creatures that went crazy in large groups. And made it work.

He was a gentleman and a gentle man.

My God is that the Gogleskans? I wouldn't call that complimentary towards Scottish people...

Gogleskans = Glaswegians. Yup, that was us.

Jim had a wicked sense of humour, something he shared with his friend, fellow SF writer and compatriot Bob Shaw. Jim suffered from diabetes and his eyesight was not the best. He wore bottle-end glasses and read his notes using a magnifying glass. As he put it, the spectacles allowed him to see the magnifying glass and the glass allowed him to read the notes. This made him a second-stage lensman.

Whenever the topic of living in an SF universe comes up, I always pick James White to be the writer. White's universes aren't perfect, but they all seem to be a whole lot better for the average sapient than most of them.

It's not clear to me whether "Custom Fitting" (not "Custom Fit" as you have it here) is meant to be in the Sector General setting, the Federation World setting, or a third setting. I should re-read it for clues, though IIRC it doesn't really mesh with "Tableau" in terms of first contact so it probably isn't the Sector General 'verse.

I forget how I stumbled onto the Sector General series. I managed to acquire all of them, I think. I like that the dramas tend not to be violent but are more problem-solving in nature.

I bought the omnibus a while ago, and reading it was like a soothing bath, right up until I lost interest. I'm glad the stories exist, and as problem-solving SF I prefer "how can we best help these aliens?" to some other kinds of problems in older SF, but I think I've read enough of it.

Memories, o! vague, vague memories ...

I am fairly certain that of these books — I think Sector General itself — was included in a box of books a kindly mechanic gifted me with when I was (I think) in grade three or four, and regularly waited outside his garage to transfer from the short to the long bus on my way to school.

Said box contained all sorts of science fictional wonders (not least of which, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame), and though — 40 or so years later — I don't remember the specifics, I remember the title and with it, a vague remembrance of good stories just a little beyond me.

Edited to fix HTML.

Edited at 2016-09-30 04:02 am (UTC)

I remember following the Sector General stories (though not the earliest, already collected in Hospital Station and Star Surgeon) as they appeared one by one in John Carnell's original anthology series New Writings in SF, from the 1966 "Invader" onward. It was a high point of personal Sense of Wonder when Tor invited me to write the introduction to their second big Sector General omnibus. Please excuse my smugness.

These stories actually pre-date the violence in Northern Ireland, which didn't really start till the late sixties. His early short novel The Secret Visitors has a section set in Northern Island, when it was a sleepy backwater.

Mind you, when I visited Jim and Peggy in Belfast in the early eighties, Peggy asked if we'd passed a particular building on our way, just round the corner from their house. "That's where that person was shot last week."

Fun fact. On that occasion, the friend was organising a New Year's party. Her parents were custodians of a National Trust property, Castle Ward, and had got permission to hold the party there. Jim and Peggy joined us later in the week. The grounds of Castle Ward are now used for filming Game of Thrones.

By the way, my memory is that ballpoint pens were available in the UK by the late fifties.

By the way, my memory is that ballpoint pens were available in the UK by the late fifties.

They were. C.S. Lewis complained in one of his late letters about having nothing to write with except his wife's biro, which he didn't care for at all.

All the way through my school years in the fifties and sixties, we were forbidden to do school work in biro. We were expected to hand work in in proper ink. Ink cartridge pens were the usual writing implements.

As I recall Diagnosticians are people who can cope with multiple implanted memory sets at once for extended periods of time, unless that got retconned in later than the first book.

Ordinary medical staff could get a memory set for treating an individual or carrying out a regular surgical procedure on an alien (to them) race but it was erased afterwards. the Diagnosticians maintained multiple memory implants full-time as they were the ones who developed new treatments and carried out research. They ate a lot of sandwiches, as I recall.

No doubt there's some unwritten tale of a Diagnostician whose implant side effect was wanting to put food between pieces of bread.

Still love those books

Some things don't do well upon re-reading, these do.

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