The origins of Sector General in 50's pulp fiction are, all too often, all too obvious. The style is didactic, formulaic, and rather limited. Reading the books (I have the first 9 of the 12 single volumes, rather than the omnibus editions) back to back is rather like trying to eat your way through a 5lb tin of chocolates. It sounds a wonderful idea when you start, but you'll get sick of the plan fairly quickly. When, for the umpteenth time, you're reading that O'Mara has a mind so keenly analytical that it's practically telepathic... that Mannen will pull someone's leg till it practically comes off at the hip... that any being sane enough to be a Diagnostician is, by defintion, mad... the page & a half of explanation of the 4 letter physiological classification system... Your eyes WILL glaze over.
This is not variations on a theme. Most of the time James White has, literally, typed out the same text he used in an earlier story. Then there's the bit on P.80 of Star Surgeon, the second book - "Contamination was the greatest danger in a multi-environment hospital". Quite right. So you'd think it'd be designed to minimise the problem? Ummm. No.
Obviously the author realises what he's done. Unfortunately, he all too often depends on the inherent bad design & other deus ex machina to generate his plots. The stories also date rather badly; partly because he never anticipated how rapidly technology would overtake his assumptions (a minor criticism; few authors in that more manual, less technological world could have, or did), partly because his attitudes also date (females of any species can't take an Educator tape "because they won't let someone else into their pretty little heads". Yeah. Right).
It's easy to criticise. For all that I've said so far, it's an amazingly inventive series, if not always plausibly so. Sector General is an enjoyable read, provided you take it in small doses. It's no classic, but it's no waste of time either.