Badge of Infamy

Cover image for


Author: Lester del Rey
Published: 1957
Language: English
Wordcount: 33,789 / 106 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 68.2
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 5,697
Added to site: 2006.10.06 14908

As a doctor, Daniel Feldman once made the mistake of saving a friend's life in violation of Medical Lobby rules. Now he's a pariah, shunned by all, and forbidden to touch another patient. But rules are looser on Mars -- there, Doc Feldman is welcomed by the colonists, even as he's hunted by the authorities. But when he discovers a Martian plague may soon wipe out two planets, Feldman finds himself a pivotal figure. War erupts, Earth is poised to completely destroy the Mars colony, and a cure to the plague is the price of peace.

Show Excerpt

plain that there were no such rights--that each generation had to pay for its rights with responsibility. That kind of talk didn't get far. People wanted to hear about rights, not about duties.

They took the phrase that all men were created equal and left out the implied kicker that equality was in the sight of God and before the law. They wanted an equality with the greatest men without giving up their drive toward mediocrity, and they meant to have it. In a way, they got it.

They got the vote extended to everyone. The man on subsidy or public dole could vote to demand more. The man who read of nothing beyond sex crimes could vote on the great political issues of the world. No ability was needed for his vote. In fact, he was assured that voting alone was enough to make him a fine and noble citizen. He loved that, if he bothered to vote at all that year. He became a great man by listing his unthought, hungry desire for someone to take care of him without responsibility. So he went out and voted


Average Rating of 2.8 from 4 reviews: ***
Lisa Carr

After a world plague, the Earth is ruled by the US, which is for all practical purposes ruled by the Medical and Space Lobbies. A promising doctor is declared an outlaw because he saved a friend's life by operating in the field instead of a hospital. He slinks off to Mars for some peace. But he discovers a Martian germ has begun infecting humans and he has to do something.
The writing is not so dry as the summary; it actually held my interest. There's a little mystery, some ex-spouse friction, double-dealing on both sides, and a war of liberation. Yes, the doctor is pure and idealistic, and the ex-wife is oddly amorphous in her loyalties and loves. Parts could be better, but I don't regret the time I spent reading it.


The entitlement crowd has finally won. Government has grown enormous to satisfy them for their votes, and very few actually work. (sound familiar)? Worse, lobbies grew in parallel with government and figured out that if they consolidated, they'd rule it all-and so they did. The medical lobby controls all medical care, and their physicians are a bunch of bureaucratic dimwits who could care less about their patients. All significant medical care must be performed in approved Lobby hospitals or under Lobby surveillance at least.

Doc Feldman, a caring doctor married the Daughter of the grand poobah of the medical lobby and has been labelled a "pariah" by the Lobby for performing emergency surgery outside of a hospital to try to save the life of a friend. If he is caught practicing medicine again, well... the penalty may be death! He is hounded by his wife who wants him punished. They are separated because of his "transgression". (I guess the good samaritan law got repealed)

He wanders, penniless and unemployable, but gets a crewman's ticket to Mars from a dead spacer. Mars is a crude frontier colony and they shelter him from the medical lobby as he dedicates himself to caring for the Martians.
He comes across the first martian disease which threatens not only Mars but Earth as well and embarks on a search for a cure with a few test tubes and a stethoscope; all the while being hounded by the Lobby and his wife.

Comment; The story is Ok, the social commentary about the way the world went may cause some pucker to anyone today who follows current events, but the medical science is totally stupid.
And, If I were Doc Feldman, I'd have killed my Bi*ch of a wife in chapter one-or any subsequent chapter she pops up in. Like a prior reviewer said. 'Not up to Del Ray's standard.

Leah A. Zeldes

A very predictable story full of stock characters: The selfless doctor. The venal, vindictive ex-wife. The nobel pioneer. Not one of del Rey's better efforts.


Fast-paced science fiction novel, with a more contemporary feel. The story involves a medical mystery and political intrigue on a Mars colony. The plot has more science than action-adventure, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. The politics portrayed even seem plausible. ( Watch out for that health insurance lobby!) Worth reading.

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