This is the first, and the best, of Anne McCaffre''s Brainship stories. A young woman, Helva was born with terrible physical problems that were incompatible with any kind of independent life. New technology allowed her to be encased in a titanium shell that formed the core of a spaceship, with her brain wired up to the ship, allowing her to use her formidable intellect to act as the craft's central 'computer'. She has become the first of the 'Brainships' and can now have a freedom and independence of sorts, the freedom to travel between the stars accompanied by the pilot who will be her 'Brawn'. Helva proves to have a love of music and an incredible voice to go with it; her constant singing leads to her fame as The Ship Who Sang.
It's hard to believe this book was written so long ago, it has certainly stood the test of time and is as enjoyable now as it has ever been. McCaffrey has introduced the idea of cyborg technology in a way that makes you question the morality of combining man and machine and to think about issues such as euthanasia. She never loses sight of the humanity of this young 'hybrid' however, and Helva's development and growth as a person makes for moving reading. Granted this isn't a heavyweight of literature, don't expect lengthy prose or hard science, and occasionally the book lapses into more of a romance than a sci-fi story, but that aside, this is still a really good read. Keep an open mind and give it a chance, you won't be disappointed.