Calhoun is a Med Ship man, responsible for human health across a wide swathe of space. But now he’s been called out to a sector where the Med Service screwed up, badly. With one world starving to death, and the other deathly afraid of plague, Calhoun and his alien pet and partner Murgatroyd will have to find a way to save both.
As with The Mutant Weapon, another in Murray Leinster’s Med Ship series, This World is Taboo is surprisingly well thought out. It’s a creature of its time, replete with strong men, protected women, and sexist assumptions, but Leinster takes some digs even at some of those stereotypes. There’s a romantic element that we’re simply supposed to assume, but most of the plot follows a fairly reliable internal logic. The science is more suggested than described, but it doesn’t get in the way of the story. Calhoun is a likeable hero, and while he’s thoroughly competent, the Med Service he works for isn’t – a refreshing touch of gray for the era.
The firm backseat role for women is a little hard to get past in places, but aside from that, this is a novel that has held up fairly well. It’s fun, solid, and undemanding.