Novacon Memories

How could I possibly forget every detail of Novacon 15? Quite easily, it seems, showing that I had far too much fun as lesser guest of honour. The main man was the great and good James White, which inspired me to try a pastiche of his Sector General hospital-station stories for the special GoH booklet. This was deeply foolhardy, but I clung to the hope that Jim would be too nice to hit me – and of course he was.

Obviously the convention should get a namecheck, so I afflicted Jim's hero Senior Physician Conway with a visiting VIP doctor called Nocavon, from "the backward planet Murb". And beer had to come in somewhere, so poor Conway's latest patients were 87 billion tiny, telepathic yeast-creatures, physiological classification VINO: to understand them he had to take a VINO Educator tape (the good old Sector General device for uploading the personality of an alien expert), which made the idea of drinking real ale seem uncomfortably like genocide. What's more, when the tape-ridden Conway thought about his gorgeous girlfriend Nurse Murchison, he had this powerful urge to lie with her in a bath of warm, nitrogen-rich sugar solution and gently divide in two ...

The plot got much sillier after that, not to mention metaphysical, and I awaited Jim's reaction nervously. He said, deadpan, that it had given him an idea. And that, gentle reader, is how I contributed a tiny full stop's worth of inspiration to the Sector General novel The Genocidal Healer (1992), by James White. How I wish he was still with us.