Review of Welcome to the Madhouse
Sci-Fi takes on many forms, and crosses many sub-genres, but Welcome to the Madhouse by S.E. Sasaki is the first sci-fi story that I have read that is a blend of science fiction action and gritty medical drama. Dr. Grace Alexandra Lord has just received a surgical fellowship on the Nelson Mandela, the premier medical space station in the Conglomerate. Working under the brilliant surgeon Dr. Hiro Al-Fadi, Grace hopes to improve her surgical skills working on the augmented and genetically modified super-soldiers of the Conglomerate. What she didn’t count on was the sudden infatuation by Bud, a medical android built by Dr. Al-Fadi, or the obsession by the station’s head psychiatrist. When a medical emergency puts the Nelson Mandela into quarantine, Grace and the other doctors must race against the clock to find a cure.
I loved this book. It is fast-paced, easy to read, with great characters. It’s a blend of classic sci-fi from Heinlein or Asimov mixed with the best of M.A.S.H and E.R. The super-soldiers are genetically modified humans designed as massive tigers, bears, gorillas, and even orcas! The doctors are complex, with personalities that reflect not only their skill, but their inflated ideas about their skills. The banter and dialogue between the doctors feel real and makes each character come to life. Grace comes into her own as the story progresses, starting out as a new member of staff, by the end you feel that she is ready to step into any role on the station. She’s been battle-tested by the quarantine and comes out stronger because of it. Bud, the medical android, is an interesting character who is a super genius, but has a very child-like personality as he grows into his constantly updating programming. (Oh, and I really like the station AI, Nelson Mandela, who has multiple personalities, including one that creates AI poetry.)
Sasaki has created a wonderfully fun tale that blends the best of science fiction with a great medical drama. I highly recommend that you add this book to your collection.