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The Ship Who Sang [Mass Market Paperback]

Anne McCaffrey
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 12 1985
Helva had been born human, but only her brain had been saved and implanted into the titanium body of an intergalactic scout ship. But first she had to choose a human partner, to soar with her through the daring adventures and exhilarating escapades in space.

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About the Author

Anne McCaffrey was one of the world's leading science-fiction writers, and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards as well as the Margaret A. Edwards' Lifetime Achievement Literary Award. Born and raised in the US, although of Irish extraction, she spent the last years of her life in Ireland, in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. She died in 2011 at the age of eighty-five. She is the creator of the Dragons of Pern series. Her website is www.annemccaffrey.net --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne McCaffrey at her best June 28 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A living spaceship with the voice of an angel April 6 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This short story collection marks the genesis of the concept of 'brainships' in McCaffrey's Central Worlds universe: infants born so damaged that they cannot survive without life support, but whose minds are sharp and alert. Given a matchless education at Central Lab Schools, they don't strap on prosthetics - some become space stations or city managers. Those with a head for starflight mathematics, like Helva, may become brainships - the 'brain' half of a brain/brawn team, a human mind installed in a spaceship.
See also "Honeymoon" in McCaffrey's _Get Off the Unicorn_ for the tale of one of Helva's missions to Beta Corvi that didn't make it into this book.
"The Ship Who Sang" - Helva is unusual in that she developed her particular hobby while quite young: moving from a passion for Shakespeare, to grand opera, to overcome the technical difficulties in learning to sing. But there's a reason shellpeople don't consider themselves handicapped in any way...
"The Ship Who Mourned" - Helva has just endured the funeral of her beloved brawn partner; only to be expected, given the difference in their lifespans, but that doesn't help the sharp edge of her grief. MedServ's usual lack of sensitivity has sent her straight back out to carry physiotherapist Theoda to treat the survivors of a plague that left the few surviving victims paralyzed. And Helva sees more mourning than her own...
"The Ship Who Killed" - MedServ has assigned Helva a 3-year mission and a new brawn (temporary, but for the duration of the mission) with an unusual twist. Nekkar's entire population has been left sterile by a radiation flare from their star, and Helva and Kira now have Assignment Stork: delivering thousands of embryos to Nekkar from worlds all over known space.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT ON MANY LEVELS May 2 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It never occured to me to write, or even read a 'customer review' of Anne McCaffrey. I've enjoyed her since I was eighteen years old. Simply, She is one of two SF/Fantasy authors I buy in hardback. I'm enjoying reading the thoughts of people just discovering her, and also the controversy!
That said, THE SHIP WHO SANG is marvelous on many levels. Ms. McCaffrey has said that what she does best are love stories and Helva is as heroic yet soft-hearted as anyone could wish. As a silly little escape from the realities of the working world, this book succeeds. As a homage to her father, she overwhelms.
In a purely sci/fi vein, McCaffrey took the concept of cyborgs to a great extreme at a time when artificial heart valves and kidney transplants were in their infancy. The first functional pace maker didn't debut until 1960. The first of the Helva stories that make up this book came out in 1961. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN didn't appear until twelve years later, when Helva and her peers (shell people) were already the elite of space exploration, single-handed managers of major metropolis's and coordinators of space mining platforms. STAR TREK didn't boldly go here until 1966! While it's not Jules Verne, this ain't too shabby!
I see the Helva stories as perfect to spark high school discussions. McCaffrey's unified galaxy, Central Worlds presaged our current move to a global economy by forty years. Her social consciousness emphasizes the need for the arts in a civilized society and serious issues like euthanasia, drug use and civic responsibility are all major themes. The entire concept of social protestors evolving into 'Dylanists' should set the stage for historical discussions of the Viet Nam Era and extrapolating Shakespearean universality into alien societies should do the same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars People of intelligence will love this book. Jan. 2 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Unfortunately, intellectual snobs will use this lovely book to go off on tangents about words like "undulate" etc. etc. Ms. McCaffrey has done an outstanding job of making Helva one of the most lovable HUMAN people ever created. Her interactions with her fellow human beings either uncovers their true worth (as in the case of Niall Parollan), or shows the baser side of humanity. Somehow characters who get to know Helva forget that she is "a deformed dwarf in a titanium column, with only a functional brain". They tend to treat her like the wonderful exciting, sexy woman she was meant to be. It is not hard to believe that a man would have unfulfilled sexual notions about a woman like Helva. And just one comment to all the teachers who have a tendency towards censorship -- this book wasn't written with children in mind. It is for adults. The snobby sounding reviews from some teachers and university elitists makes them sound like self proclaimed superior intellectuals (and it makes a few of them sound sexually repressed). Give us a break and stick to reviewing Plato.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great reading material
Published 25 days ago by 2011cardar
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful McCaffrey book!
I am a huge Anne McCaffrey fan. I have been putting off reading this book though. I shouldn't have. It was wonderful. I did not realize the book was written in the early 60's. Read more
Published on May 10 2004 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Undeveloped in several areas
Ok, right off the bat you have a brain separated from its body. How such an organ operates without sensory input is, well, better left to the science fiction writers. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2004 by Avid Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Very good
I loved this book best, of all A MC's work. You sympathise with the character, you feel what is happening through the powerfully written words, reinforced with the imagery evoked... Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2002 by Kotori
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR MCCAFFREY FANS!
I am a second generation McCaffrey fan, raising the third generation. My 15-year old daughter and I both thouroughly enjoyed "The Ship Who Sang". Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2001 by Plane chick
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that literally changed my life...
... as in, it gave me hope to go on. Helva's struggles as she loves, loses, and grows were like an atomic blast to a 15-year old -- "I'm *not* a cripple!" -- in 1968. Read more
Published on July 9 2001 by Samanda b Jeude
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality
This book was one of the most realistic books I have ever read. McCaffrey created Helva to be such a powerful character, that I couldn't once find fault with her work. Read more
Published on March 28 2001 by Leia
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!
I first read this book several years ago, and I loved it then, and I love it now. The plot is wonderful, telling different stages of her development as a person, and adjusting to... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who misunderstand
I've read many of these reviews, and a lot of them seem to be about censorship.
If you want to censor what people read, go ahead, but giving a book one star because it... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2000
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