cover image The Galactic Gourmet: A Sector General Novel

The Galactic Gourmet: A Sector General Novel

James White. Tor Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86167-4

On the 384 levels of the far-future Sector General Twelve Hospital, a staff drawn from dozens of races treats the ailments of hundreds more, and also devises treatments to help newly discovered intelligent species. In this first hardcover entry in the Sector General series, popular since 1962, a gourmet chef celebrated throughout the galaxy is appointed Chief Dietitian of Sector General. Gurronsevas is a Tralthan (imagine a smallish, six-legged elephant), talented enough to substantially improve the hospital's food but somewhat accident-prone. Exiled to the medical team of a First Contact expedition, he saves the kangaroo-like Wem by concocting ways of cooking vegetables that overcome their cultural taboos, which had condemned them to starvation on a planet whose ruined environment no longer produces meat. White, a retired British physician, tells the story entirely from Gurronsevas's viewpoint, with realism, a delightful dry wit, compassion and an intimate knowledge of the technology, philosophy and politics of the medical profession. Fans can look forward to an above-average installment in a series that, perhaps more than any other of comparable longevity, has survived with grace the changes in both the SF readership and the larger society. (Aug.)