The Galactic Gourmet: A Sector General Novel (Sector General Series)

by James White | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0312861672 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 8/4/2018
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, August 04, 2018
I got this ex-library hardcover from Better World Books. I'd enjoyed a couple of other "Sector General" books, including Hospital Station, and went looking for more from this series about a huge interstellar hospital where the staff has to be able to treat beings of many shapes, sizes, and needs.

This is another hilarious entry in the series - formatted as a novel, though there are a couple of distinct story-arcs, so it's almost a loosely-linked anthology. In this case its viewpoint character is new to the series, a huge, six-legged, multi-armed and multi-eyed Tralthan named Gurronsevas, who's the most renowned chef in the entire galactic federation. So what's a celebrated chef doing at Sector General? Why, he's tasked himself with the greatest possible challenge: making hospital food taste good!

Yep, that's pretty much the premise of the first half of the book, and it's played out in typically snarky and amusing fashion. Gurronsevas isn't the diva I'd expected him to be, and is pretty good at working with others, but he does make some flagrant mistakes here and there. (One of the amusing bits has to do with his attempt to revamp the meals for hospital head O'Mara; he's disappointed that O'Mara doesn't seem to notice or care about the tastier meals, only to learn that the focused and workaholic O'Mara did notice - but wasn't pleased at having food so tasty that it distracted him from his work!)

Other fun bits included Gurronsevas' attempts to engineer a mobile, edible foodstuff to simulate the fleeing prey for a species of aliens who weren't doing well on the non-mobile hospital food. And Gurronsevas won over a very testy nurse whose own need for a chlorine-gas environment made it impossible to do much for her meals; turns out she appreciated someone who'd just talk to her...

All that was fun as the setup, but the main story kicks in after Gurronsevas makes one mistake too many and crosses a powerful officer, who insists that he leave the hospital. Some plotting by O'Mara and company get him off the base while retaining his services - as auxiliary on a rescue mission to a newly-discovered planet whose sentient beings seem to be starving. What's a gourmet chef to do with a culture which relies on the meat of its deceased members to augment the scanty diet? This part of the story features the author's trademark efforts at sketching wildly diverse beings and cultures, and showing how even the most well-intentioned doctors might misconstrue some things. I actually guessed one of the major misunderstandings here long before the principles did, but it was still a fascinating read.

I dearly wish someone would film some of these books. Modern CGI would make it possible, and decent casting would let the zippy dialog shine!

[There's a TV Tropes page on the series, with some entertaining tidbits.]

The series, in order of publication:

Hospital Station
Star Surgeon
Major Operation
Ambulance Ship
Sector General
Star Healer
Code Blue - Emergency
The Genocidal Healer
The Galactic Gourmet
Final Diagnosis
Mind Changer
Double Contact

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, 214 Main St. in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, March 07, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (3/8/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library, 214 Main St. in Nashua, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2019 Wine+Food release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2019 Celebrate the Irish release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2019 Science Fiction release challenge. ***

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