Welcome to the Madhouse by S. E. Sasaki is a medical, science fiction, fantasy, romance novel. It was selected as a Book of the Day by OnlineBookClub.org and was available for free on Amazon. Not Kindle Unlimited (KU) but free. That is a lot of mix of genre. There is also a mystery but it has a lighter emphasis that doesn’t really qualify the novel as a fit for the genre mystery.
The novel starts out fast as is logical. Sasaki is creating a world where technology that doesn’t exist today has to be described with vocabulary that does not exist. The first third of the novel will keep the reader busy with processing new ideas. The second two-thirds is more slanted toward information in the areas of medicine, biology, and the challenge of the possibilities of change to adapt to former hostile environments. Throughout, there is romance or the possibilities of it. Not sex, romance. For parents who monitor their offspring’s YA reading choices; they will be happy. There couldn’t be a safer, yet interesting, read.
Grace Lord is a newly assigned doctor on a central medical facility named the Nelson Mandela. Throughout this novel, Sasaki chooses interesting character names. Nelson Mandela is actually an AI (artificial intelligence) and is the space station medical facility. Mandela controls all communication, transportation, security, supply, and non-human robots. Mandela’s control of humans is limited to how the AI can use subordinate robotic entities to physically control humans.
With the expansion of Earth throughout the solar system, humans from Earth had to adapt their bodies to exist on other planets as they explored and exploited other planets. Humans volunteered to do this as they adapted and augmented their bodies with various animal parts to acquire former non-human skills that would aid in colonization attempts. Settlers on an aquatic world adapted their bodies with fins and gills for an aquatic environment. Pioneers in a dark world augmented their bodies with the skills of bats for seeing in the dark.
The expansion of the Earth to other planets did not lessen incidents of conflict and war. Super-armies were built up with super-soldiers that had the strength and skill properties of a bear, a leopard, a tiger, a snake, and any other variety of animal whose attributes would make the resultant soldier a winner in the fight. All of the additional skills were an augmentation to, not a replacement of, human abilities. Soldiers get injured. The Mandela Central Facility was to rebuild them, tweak them with new skills, and return them to battle. Dr. Grace Lord, the newest doctor on the station would perform some of the complex procedures required.
Immediately on arrival at the station, Grace is almost killed as she is attacked by an escaped patient under the influence of some drug. With little time to settle in and in-process the station, Dr. Lord is required to meet her boss and mentor Dr. Al-Fadi, an irascible, curmudgeonly, narcissistic, sarcastic Chief Surgeon who immediately informs her that he will change her name to Dr. Grace. There can only be one Lord and that is Dr. Al-Fadi. There is also SAMM-E-777, an assistant surgical operating android who would like to be called Bud. He would also like to have human feelings so he could better interact with Grace, a fully human doctor he is smitten with.
The reader now has three main protagonists, Grace, Doctor Al-Fadi, and Bud the aspiring android. All others are supporting types, even the one evil character, Dr. Jeffrey Nestor, a psychiatrist. For an evil character, he is almost superfluous. His best role is in hinting at a possible sequel to find out what evil he may later do. He is fairly ineffective in this book.
The main conflict situation to watch is the introduction of a virus into the Nelson Mandela Premier Medical Space Station. The virus kills people by dissolving them. Will Dr. Grace, Dr. Al-Fadi, and Bud working together be able to survive and defeat this? They have to try to solve the situation before Conglomerate battleships arrive to destroy the Mandela with all aboard, infected and non-infected alike. It is better to destroy the few to save many. Unless you happen to be one of the few.
There are a few moral dilemma questions discussed that are interesting and apply to today. Is it ethical to continue to repair soldiers and send them back to fight until the one inevitable point, death is reached? Death would the point when repairs can no longer be made. Are using valuable resources for the purpose of killing others the way we want to go? There are other questions (think memprints) but to enjoy the discussions you have to read the book.
The first half of the book captivates the reader and holds attention well. The second half is good but the reader is just sticking around to see if all loose ends are tied up. This is a comfortable YA read.