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Space Prison by Tom Godwin

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Space Prison by Tom Godwin (1958), are words engraved in my brain. My first real SF read.
At thirteen I had my appendix out in a cottage hospital in Glebe, Sydney, Australia. In those days, an appendix operation scored you ten days in bed. After my third or fourth escapade out of bed, the matron came to tell me ‘in no uncertain terms’ – she did not want again to hear of me setting even one foot on the floor while I was in her care.
The kid’s ward had four beds, two kids and an old wooden wardrobe filled with linen. My co conspirator across the aisle had his broken leg strung up in the classic cartoon style, and for weeks already. He was bored.
My mother was desperately ill in the same hospital. I wanted to escape into a good book and not worry. But books for Rita wouldn’t have been on anyone's to-do horizon. 
The hat shelf in the cupboard in our ward was stuffed with lairy yellow paperback books, my co conspirator said, seeing them each time a member of the staff opened the cupboar…