An old adage in the writing world is “write what you know.” This is good advice, because few things can pull a reader out of a story faster than an author butchering their subject material. This was the primary reason why I greatly appreciated Welcome to the Madhouse by S.E. Sasaki, a novel about physicians on a medical space station, as written by a physician.
The story centers around Grace Lord, a combat surgeon who treats patients aboard the station. However, said patients are animal-human hybrids with enhanced strength and abilities. They are in the midst of fighting a war and arrive at the facility with physical and mental injuries, which pose interesting challenges to the medical crew. The characters are well thought out and exhibit the appropriate flaws that one might expect to find in a space ship full of trauma and chaos. In short, it was easy to get sucked into the madhouse.
Sasaki also shows the appropriate restraint when diving into the details, offering a mindful and humorous approach to the medical speak. It reminded me a lot of The Martian by Andy Weir, in that complex problems and their equally complex solutions are presented in a digestible manner, making them accessible to general readers. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, and Sasaki manages it quite well.
As a parting note, I would be remiss not to mention Bud. Sasaki inserts some deft humor by way of this neurotic android, who is by far my favorite character. His comical interactions with the ship’s AI were my favorite parts of the book.
Welcome to the Madhouse is the first book of the Grace Lord Series, which includes Bud by the Grace of God and Amazing Grace. Sasaki is also a very talented artist. Her dragon portraits are astounding and a big hit at conventions.