James White's biographical information.
The best known of his books are the 'Sector General' novels. They have a consistent back story and many of the same characters though the individual books are effectively stand alone stories. They take place in a generally benevolent, indefinitely far future where humanity is a founding member of a very diverse Federation. Diverse in being wide spread and in membership!
The big problem that this civilisation has is in medically treating members of all these species. Clearly an Earther falling ill on an Earth colony is going to be fine. But what of a Huldar? Or a Chalder?
The answer is Sector General.
A massive spacestation designed specifically to treat as many of the Federation's species as possible and to act as an emergency clearing centre in medical first contact situations. Now, not even Sector General could employ enough doctors to cope with the number and sheer variety of possible species in the Federation. The answer is the Educator Tape; a recording of the top expert's mind in a particular species medicine that can be impressed onto the recipient's mind. But not only is it medical knowledge that is transferred, but the complete contents of that expert's mind - it's loves and dislikes, it's fears and desires. Just imagine that you are an Earth Human (biped, upright, forward motion) who has a Melfan tape (hard exoskeleton, six legged, crab like); you'll find yourself constantly off balance! And don't think of enjoying a meal!!
The tapes are the main reason that the Head of Psychology is the second most important person in the hospital. Medical or Support. If you prove stable enough you might find yourself allowed to retain a tape permanently in order to take charge of an other-species ward or for research. That would put you in the upper reaches of the medical hierarchy as a Senior Medic. If you prove adaptable enough you might be considered for the post of Diagnostition - three or four tapes held on a permanent basis. Such exalted men are all heads of departments or leaders of research teams.
Now, I say men, and that's the way the earliest books were written; all the doctors are species-equivalent males. In the later stories he has to come up with a justification for this: the species-equivalent females have minds that are too orderly to accept the confusion caused by the Educator Tapes.
Each species is given a four letter identifying code that defines various things about them. The first letter defines physical evolution - A was for a liquid born lifeform originally but has had to be expanded to take account of those life forms evolved from plant like structures. Letters higher in the alphabet denote more highly developed lifeforms with the sole exception of those lifeforms who have telepathic abilities. Their classifications all start with a V. The second denotes the type and distribution of limbs. The last two indicate metabolic and gravitic requirements. In the earlier novels, there is an indication that there is a further level of codes but this is never described and is never mentioned after the initial description.
They are listed alphabetically.
Code Blue Emergency
The Galactic Gourmet
Don't forget you can order the books from either Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
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