The Ship Who Sang (Brainship, #1)

By Anne McCaffrey

Rating: 3 stars

Helva has been wrapped in a titanium ‘shell’ since birth, a shell that protects and nurtures her, as her own body is broken and useless. Inserted into a spaceship that becomes her body, she travels the stars with her partnered ‘brawn’, working for the Central Worlds government as a medical ship, trying to pay off the debt she incurred for her upbringing and spaceship body. But Helva is unique amongst Brainships, she is the ship who sings.

This book brings together several short stories about Helva that McCaffrey wrote in the 1960s and a new conclusion (at least, it doesn’t have a separate copyright date on it) that brings closure to her story. Some of the attitudes in the writing, especially in the earlier stories, were a bit odd and of their time (especially attitudes towards disability) but I still enjoyed the book. A major theme in the book is one of loss as Helva mourns for her first brawn, finds ways of coping and eventually gains contentment. This feels well-drawn and organic, happening over a number of years.

Book details

ISBN: 9780345334312
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Year of publication: 1969

The Ship Who Searched (Brainship, #3)

By Anne McCaffrey

Rating: 4 stars

Tia is a precocious daughter of archaeologists who take her with them on digs. On one, she is infected with a disease that destroys control of her body, leaving her dependent on life-support. Tia is eventually transferred to the ‘shellperson’ programme where her body is encased in a shell and her brainstem attached to a spaceship. She now has a mission: to understand whatever it was that laid her low and make sure it never attacks anyone again.

This is an old favourite, not demanding reading at all but the team of Tia and her ‘brawn’ Alex is a fun one and their adventures make for enjoyable light reading. Like a lot of McCaffrey, it’s unambitious (more thought could certainly have been given to the setting) but enjoyable.

Book details

ISBN: 9781857232059
Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 1992

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