AMBULANCE SHIP

by James White | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0345285131 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 5/24/2019
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, May 24, 2019
I got this ex-library paperback from Better World Books. It's another installment in the marvelous Sector General series about a huge interstellar hospital where the staff has to be able to treat beings of many shapes, sizes, and needs.

This one deals with the introduction of the ambulance-ship Rhabwar, which features significantly in subsequent books. There are three loosely-connected stories here, each focusing on a different mission:

"Contagion" has the new ship being sent on what should be a simple run, to help its new crew get used to it. But they find themselves faced with a ghost from Earth's spacefaring past: a legendary generation-ship that had vanished from its projected course and had not been heard from since... The details of that ship's fate are pretty appalling, but our heroes don't have time to explore the derelict - instead, they have to rescue the crew of the first ship to find it, and then to rescue themselves, from what seems to be a plague from ancient Earth. (I admit to being just as frustrated as the characters were at the need to abandon the historic wreck, but it really was their only option. And its nightmarish story was awfully dark for the generally-upbeat "Sector General" tales.)

"Quarantine" describes the handling of the crew and patients on their return from this mission, but it doesn't stop there; a new distress call sends the Rhabwar out again, to find the sole survivor of a very messy shipwreck. The new patient is a furry, fox-looking being, in pain and only semi-conscious but radiating a strong feeling of intense concern and guilt (detected by the empathic Dr. Prilicla). And then the staff closest to the patient begin to collapse... Very nifty alien behavioral analysis here, and yet another wildly unusual first-contact situation.

"Recovery" has our heroes finally back on Sector General and out of their own quarantine, ready for more training on ambulance-ship methods (an excuse for the author to give an in-character info-dump about history and terminology). And then there's a new distress beacon and another case - this one featuring two survivors inside a very strange ship indeed, with the team suspecting some increasingly appalling situations before they work out what's going on. As always I was wowed by the author's knack for coming up with unusual and not-remotely-Earthlike alien species, and I love the main characters' teamwork and inventiveness under very difficult circumstances.

The book also has a "secret history" of the series, with some entertaining comments from the author on how it came about.

[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, Tenney St in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA on Saturday, June 22, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (6/23/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library, Tenney St in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library on this lovely day; hope someone enjoys it! (The LFL's door was damaged and could use some maintenance.)

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

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

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