Hospital Station Author:James White Balantine Books (c) 1962 — Publication date 1962 First Edition — Sector General is the home of many strange creatures, including humans. It is a vast, sectionalized hospital, set up in space to care for all kinds of extra-terrestrials including those that "breathe" methane gas, or live under water, or come from planets with pressures and gravities... more » altogether different from those of Earth. Each section of the hospital is rigged to duplicate the living requirements of its various patients. But the doctors, human and otherwise, must of necessity shift from one kind of space suit to another in the course of their rounds. How to devise a working spacesuit for a delicately expert surgeon with eight legs so fragile that mere Earth gravity would crush them? How discover what is ailing the incommunicable, elephants sized infant offspring of some vast behemoth before "baby" wrecks the joint? How get close enough to treat a mangled crewmember whose life force is hard radiation? These and many other problems - funny, dangerous, dramatic - are the daily bread of Sector General. But above all there is the job of keeping the hospital going, maintaining harmony and discipline among a wildly disparate group of aliens - this is the job that falls to a human.
The story of Sector General is told in a series of related, but not connected, episodes, each having to do with the particular problems of one alien creature, each also telling of some of the problems of the other aliens. The fascination of the conception lies in the ingenious technical adaptations that are devised - coupled with the ability James White has to make one identify with completely alien beings (in this respect he can only be compare the Hal Clements - that master of penetration into the alien mind), while O'Mara, the all-too-human head of a circus with as many rings as it has performers, is surely the most unusual space commander yet conceived - a far cry from the jut-jawed heroic idiot of conventional space opera...« less