I probably read this book in the late 1960s in an elementary school library. I believe the story began with the young man on Earth and progressed to him having an adventure in space. His photographic memory was central to his character and probably the story also.

For years I thought the book may have been called something like Space Doctor or Star Surgeon. Books with those names exist but I have not found the one I am looking for. I may be in error about the name.

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    Can't find a summary, and I don't particularly remember it, but this 'feels' like a good possibility: "Doctor to the Galaxy" (1965) by A. M. Lightner. Looking for your book, I found a long-lost of my own, Lightner's "The Rock of Three Planets" (1963), so thank you! and good luck with your search. Feb 12, 2014 at 19:47
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    Star Surgeon is part of Sector General series. Photographic memory wasn't featured there. Feb 12, 2014 at 20:14
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    FYI, I checked Alan E. Nourse as well - Star Surgeon, close, but no 'memory' bit; Hubbard, White also had no good match. Feb 12, 2014 at 20:59
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    The perfect memory main character is a feature of Heinlein's Starman Jones, but Jones became an astrogator, not a doctor.
    – steveha
    Feb 13, 2014 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


Could it be Sucker Bait, a novella by Asimov?

In it, 20-year-old Mark Annuncio of the "Mnemonic Service", who has been trained to memorize and correlate vast amounts of information, saves the crew of a spaceship investigating a planet that turns out to have an abnormally high concentration of beryllium in its soil.


Turning a comment into a community answer, this might be Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein. It was published in 1953 as part of his juvenile series, which matches with when you read it and with it being a children's novel (going by the tag you used).

The protagonist is Max Jones, an orphaned farm boy who wants to go to space. His uncle may have left him astrogation manuals. He meets a hobo, Sam, who helps him, but also cheats him out of the manuals. Sam does get them jobs on a spaceship.
Max' eidetic memory allows him to memorise all the manuals, which helps them later (after he has become an astrogator) when the manuals are destroyed.

The covers can be found on the ISFDb and may help jog your memory.

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