“Welcome to the Madhouse” by S. E. Sasaki

This is a real old-fashioned space opera, except the setting is an orbiting medical facility instead of a battle cruiser. It has the usual cast of alien or semi-human creatures – in this case, animal/human genetic adaptations used as soldiers – the usual high-tech background and solution to problems, and the usual slightly stereotyped characters. It is an atmosphere of extremes. Nobody is just plain normal. Everyone is just a little more of everything.
The strength of this story is in the storytelling. The main character is likeable and fully rounded. There are plenty of tense, well-described action sequences. There is a current of deeper-than-expected thematic material as well, as people with the technical know-how to manipulate the bodies and minds of their patients agonize over the morality of what they are doing. Or don’t agonize, which is worse.
For hard-core Sci-Fi fans, the story is full of wonderful detail, from complex medical procedures down to the cleaning robots that tidy the floor of the operating room.
The weakness is in the telling. The humour is marvellous, but there’s just too much of it, and it gets sometimes slows down the action just when it shouldn’t. The emotion is strong! But there are far! Too Many! Exclamation marks! The overuse of adjectives is appropriate and humorous in the mind of an android who is experiencing the emotion of love for the first time, but the habit spills over into the rest of the writing as well. There is also too much description. Space opera fans must have their fill of technical jargon and creative future science, but too much is enough, already.
In general this book could do with a lot of tightening up – it takes five pages to decide who is going to carry her luggage – but otherwise it is an enjoyable, action-filled romp through a different area of space.
Recommended for fans of Space Opera and humorous fiction
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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