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January Books 5) The Secret Visitors

5) The Secret Visitors, by James White (.co.uk, .com)

This was James White's first novel, published in 1961, and like many of his others the central character is a human doctor confronted with peculiar health problems, a precursor to his best-known works, the Sector General galactic hospital series. However, it's definitely a novel of its time; the galactic federation is interested in Earth, apparently, because our planet is unique in having a) an axial tilt and b) decent scenery. Added to this, our Earthmen heroes discover that the ultra-civilised galactics have lost all knowledge of a) surgery and b) battle tactics, and are able to help them out of a tricky spot or two. But it's fun; and it's particularly fun for me because of the use of Northern Ireland (in particular Portballintrae) as a setting for much of the first half of the book - this being a reason for me to read it, as it's part of my list.


Jan. 7th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
I went back to James White a few months ago and was disappointed to realise that he did not live up to memory. There was some good stuff, but his main female character was distinguished mainly by her bust measurement.
Jan. 7th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
his main female character was distinguished mainly by her bust measurement.

I'd be very interested to know which stuff you're referring to...I don't ever recall his female characters being defined in such a way...
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
Murchison in Star Surgeon is horrendously stereotyped. I didn't notice it when I was younger, but reading now, she's basically a bust measurement with a few token heroic qualities tacked on for good measure.
Jan. 7th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. I know he was very anti-chauvinism in real life, so I wonder perhaps if it was a result of writing to the standard that was expected from a lot of scifi lit from that time (which is a pity).

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