Bewildering Stories

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The Reading Room

Jerry Wright

Lester Del Rey is no longer around to complain at my stealing (and probable desecration) of the Book Review Column at the late-lamented Worlds of If magazine, so I'm stealing it. Suffer!

We have an old compilation maquerading as a new book, a slightly older book, and one hot off the press.

First off the block: Med Ship by Murray Leinster (edited and compiled by Eric Flint and Gordon Somebody).

I'm so pleased that Baen Books is making heretofore hard to find stories by the Masters readily available. They've published a bunch of Jame H. Schmitz and Keith Laumer, and now they are starting in on Murray Leinster.

The majority of these stories were originally published in Analog/Astounding in the 50s and 60s, and they have held up well. The stories have been previously collected in four different books, so you are getting a lot for your money.

The basic premise is that of the "Interstellar Medical Service" which is set in Leinster's "Landing Grid" universe. Calhoun is a doctor in a little ship who, with his pet tormal Murgatroyd visits various planets for "routine" medical inspections. Needless to say, his visits are anything but routine. Some terminologies clank just a bit, like "electron telescope" and "close-object indicator" where a modern writer would use "sensor" (all hail Star Trek), but the stories themselves are clever, and quite readable.

You probably will want to intersperse these stories with other reading (at least I did), but all-in-all this is a fine book well worth spending time with.

Next up Flesh and Silver by Stephen Burns

Mr. Burns has shown fine sensitivity with a Hugo-caliber story in a recent Analog entitled "Look Away". This earlier book is based around and expanded from a couple of Analog stories dealing with "Bergmann Surgeons" who have had their hands cut off to make them better surgeons.

More to Come

Hammerfall by C.J. Cherryh

Avon/EOS Paperback printing August 2002 (U.S> $7.50

C.J. Cherryh is back in great form with a new book set in a new universe. Although the background is that of two galactic enemies, one using nanotech and one throwing big rocks, the protagonist of this novel, Marak Trin Tain, hasn't a clue what is going on, as he is somewhat of a primitive. The story is evocative of Dune, Lucifer's Hammer, and other well-written stories. Although evocative, it really owes nothing to them, per se, as it certainly stands alone. Read this -- it is GOOD.

Copyright 2002 by Bewildering Stories.