Final Diagnosis

Travel with books
by James White | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9780312861483 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 8/10/2020
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, August 10, 2020
I got this ex-library hardcover from Better World Books. It's another entry in the marvelous "Sector General" series about a space hospital and its staff dealing with the physical and psychological problems of ailing aliens of many different types.

Unusually for the series, this one's told from the viewpoint of a human patient: a man named Hewlitt, who has a paralyzing fear of extraterrestrials and a history of random, non-reproducible health problems, but with an apparently perfectly healthy and robust body. So he's come to Sector General for a final try at a diagnosis - though given his xenophobia, the experience of being tended by nurses resembling six-legged elephants or gigantic mosquitos or worse is... trying!

There's a lot of fun to be had here via seeing the entire operation from the eyes of a newcomer; gives the author a chance to dump exposition yet again, but with good reason, and with differing perspectives. And it's intriguing to see how Hewlitt's reactions to his surroundings change - in part because he seems to be a decent person at heart who's able and (eventually) willing to get to know beings of other species despite his initial reactions, and in part because of the cause of all his problems. Yes, the Sector General folk eventually do work it out, and it's not at all what I expected - it all relies on an incident from his childhood, which when recounted is both charming and scary. (I loved the fact that he had a favorite cat as a pet; the eventual fate of the cat is part of the overall puzzle, and is - to my great relief - a happy one.)

While most of the story is pretty mellow, there's a potential crisis that builds up when it seems that Hewlitt may have encountered a virus that can leap species boundaries - something previously considered impossible among the many different races that visit or work in Sector General. If there is such a thing as a universal plague it could doom the galaxy, so things get tense for a while there! (This isn't the last book in the series so we do get a hint that things will work out {wry grin}.)

Spoiler: This book eventually has a callback to the characters and events of Star Surgeon, with some poignant and ultimately highly satisfying results. End spoiler.

[There's a TV Tropes page for the "Sector General" 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, City Hall in Manchester, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, November 28, 2020

Released 1 mo ago (11/28/2020 UTC) at Little Free Library, City Hall in Manchester, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

I left this book in the Little Free Library near the Stark Street entrance to City Hall; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2020 e-less challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2020 Science Fiction challenge. ***

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