Tomes of Starhopping

Welcome to the land of wonders, where time travel is possible, space travel a reality, and "what ifs" come to life. Join me as I explore new worlds--and old ones--filled with scientific wonders, new civilizations, and strange new mysteries to consider.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.

That said, on to the review!

Title: The Ship Who Sang
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Format: Paperback
Copyright Date: 1969

Imagine that you were born hideously deformed and stunted, and in some cases death would be preferable than going through life being discriminated against in social and physical ways. Then imagine that you were "altered" so that instead of using clawed hands to grasp things you could use mechanical claws moved by the power of your mind. And then that you were implanted into a titanium shell in a titanium column in the titanium hull of a mighty starship. And that you were guaranteed virtual immortality, or at least a much longer life than any ordinary man or woman, reaching well into the hundreds, perhaps even the thousands if you were lucky. And then imagine that you were placed into a number of situations where only your unique abilities as the heart and soul of a brainship could possibly save the day. Well, that's the life that Helva faces each and every day. But to get through the tedium, she learns to sing. Now follow her voice as she soars through the galaxy on missions of mercy and dire need as the brainship XH-834.

The Ship Who Sang is a terrific novel from a terrific author (yes, I know I've said it over and over again) that offers a surprising change from the more benign tones of her other works. I'd rather not be completely critical of Anne McCaffrey, but this novel--for all that it was written several decades ago--deals with a subject I wouldn't dare touch with a fifty-foot pole (longer, if I could help it). So, full praise to her for taking what could have become a very touchy topic and turning it into the start of a great collection of books!

It's hard to say what would be the most interesting and satisfying part of this novel. The relationship between brawn and brain? The apparent invulnerability of the shell-person who is the heart of the brainship? The predicaments that Helva finds herself in through various errors in judgment of her brawns or Central Worlds or just unexpected circumstances? Well, I'd say all of the above and more. Helva's individuality is truly amazing, and well worth the effort of studying my own feelings about differences as I read through the novel. You'll understand what I mean when you read it yourself.

The Ship Who Sang has been around for a long time now, and chances are it will remain around for a long time yet to come. And you will certainly encounter Helva in other books in this collection, at least through occasional references here and there. But first you have to read this book, so go out and get it!

Rating: Thumbs up! The pilot may be the brawn, but who's really the brawn: the brawn or the brain?

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