Book Review: ‘Doctor Alien, Three Tales’ by Rajnar Vajra

Genre: SF

Description: an alien species, the ‘Tsf’ has begun trading with Earth. They find single members of three other alien species adrift in space and bring them aboard their own space craft. The three appear to have no physical injuries, but perhaps some mental defect? The psychiatrist of the title is deputed to travel up to the Tsf ship and see what he can make of the aliens they have rescued. The three interlinked tales deal with what he finds when he gets there, how he helps the three aliens, and others. They also explore the problems that accrue when the Tsf reward him for his help.

Author: Rajnar Vajra has been a regular and delightful voice in Analog magazine for many years. He also contributes to (including their anthologies). One can only wonder why it has taken him so long to collect some of his stories together as he has done here.

Appraisal: I have been an Analog subscriber, and always enjoyed the stories enormously. They are usually hard SF of a most satisfying kind. The only thing you might say against Analog is that you can see its origins in the Fifties: it isn’t particularly ‘slipstream-y’ or modern. Things (often space ships or medical equipment) get built, developed, researched, discovered, whatever; alien races are interacted with; the way our lives might be in the future is explored. There is very often a clever twist at the end which makes the reader ask ‘why didn’t I think of that?’, or preen quietly if s/he did.

These three stories were originally published as long stories (possibly serialised?) in Analog. They build up one upon another and have an internal chronology. If you enjoy hard SF you will enjoy these. There are intriguing puzzles to solve before the clever twists I refer to above (what is wrong with the aliens? Why does the Doctor keep assembling and disassembling the same robot?); there is an interesting take on life in the future; there are well-imagined, seriously weird aliens; and the stories are funny. What more could one ask for?

Well, perhaps a goodly bonus might be an interesting introduction to the three stories by Stanley Schmidt (editor of Analog 1978-2012). That latter date is perhaps a clue to one of the few problemettes with these three tales: they were all written between 2009 and 2012. They stand up pretty well, considering the youngest of them is 10 years old. Vajra claims these as near future stories. I have published a near future novel of my own. So I know one always fears that they may become a mere historical curiosity as the fiction approaches confluence with the real world, in case the real world has moved in a direction one’s authorial brain did not foresee (which is pretty likely).

Technology hasn’t overtaken these stories, human nature hasn’t changed, answers to the fundamental questions of the universe are still being sought. Which is presumably why these particular stories were chosen for this project. Nevertheless, I hope Vajra issues some more recent tales in this format soon.

*** Review originally prepared for Big Al and Pals review website, received a complimentary soft copy for an honest review ***


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: