Monsters And Medics

By James White

Rating: 4 stars

I am a fan of James White and his brand of mostly violence-free space opera and enjoyed this collection. The meat of the collection was the novella Second Ending about the last man on Earth and the robots who keep him alive. This was a poignant and well-told piece, showing the loneliness of the position with realistic cracks in the protagonist’s sanity, and the sort of petty and pointless revenges that he would take out on the robots who wouldn’t let him die.

Of the other stories, Counter Security was a humorous tale of a sci-fi loving night-watchman who gets handed a very strange mystery in the dead of night; Dogfight is one of White’s very few war-stories, into which he injects his own particular brand of humanism; Nuisance Value involves a world rebuilding itself after the apocalypse and one man’s battle to clear his father’s name long after he has died; and finally, we have In Loving Memory, a story that he describes in the introduction as being formed while he was courting his future wife. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting from the story, and although I might disagree with the premise of a second wave of human space colonisation striving to undo the genetic differences that have arisen since the first to avoid war, it was quite hard hitting in its own way.

A good collection then, both for established White fans and for those who want a bit more thought and a bit less violence in their space opera.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552104623
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 1977

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