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Book review: Med Ship - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
March 14th, 2006
03:31 pm


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Book review: Med Ship
Today's book review is Med Ship by Murray Leinster.

This is a collection of 8 stories from the late 50's and early 60's.  They have common characters and a pretty consistent setting (though there are some slight inconsistencies from story to story), and share some background material from story to story to the point of annoying repetition, but there is no long-term story arc, development from story to story, or even reference in one story to events in another.  The stories are individually quite readable; the characters are thin but the plots are engaging enough.  The science is a little weak, but mostly plausible enough, and the stories get into some social and philosophical speculation that is somewhat interesting.

Not great, but I did enjoy the actual reading more than it seems like I should have when I think about the various parts (plot, characterization, suspension of disbelief, etc.), which I guess is the measure of good writing.  8 out of 10.

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(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:March 14th, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)

Med ship

It's hard to believe that it has been more than 40 years since I first read those stories. I always enjoyed them, although as you say, the repetition of the background material gets a bit annoying if you are reading several consecutively
Date:March 14th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)


It's been a while since you've reviewed a book I'm familiar with. I actually didn't read these stories in the "compendium" book you are reviewing here (though Louie has a copy of it, and we had it out recently as the book she was reading) but one at a time, mostly as sides of Ace double books. I think your review is fair overall. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the stories seemed a little lame compared to the James White stories about Sector General hospital (which obviously had Leinster's work, already published, to draw on, as a standard to meet or exceed) but they look just fine compared to the Ole Doc Methuselah stories, originally published as by Rene Lafayette, revealed later as an L. Ron Hubbard pseudonym. And keep in mind that even the Ole Doc Methuselah stories, which I view as the weakest of these three series, read very well, were a lot of fun, back in the days of *Astounding Science Fiction,* 1947 through 1949. It's so hard to get totally out of one's current cultural perspective, but sometimes it's worth trying. Note: Even back in the 1960s, I would have said (and a lot of other people would have agreed with me) that Leinster isn't what you would call a brilliant writer -- but he is a *story teller,* and if you accept that there won't be any lovely stylistic tricks or bon mots, the story goes down very smoothly.

By the way, have you ever read *Earth Abides* by George R. Stewart? I'm in the middle of it now for what I think is the second time. An excellent book! (At one point I tried rereading it, but had to stop in the middle because I couldn't face the death of a certain sympathetic character. I think I'm stronger and saner now.)

Nate B.
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Date:March 15th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)

Re: Yes

It's interesting that you mention the Ole Doc Methuselah stories -- Eric Flint and Guy Gordon make no mention of them in their afterword when they claim Leinster was seminal in inventing the "space doctor" story.

I recognize the title of Earth Abides but I haven't read it. So many books, so little time.
Date:March 15th, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

I read Earth abides so long ago I don't know when it was--but I remember really likeing it. Unfortuately that was before I started buying many books so I doubt I have a copy. I might, though.
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