Mark Johansen's Reviews > The Ship Who Sang

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
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Mar 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction

** spoiler alert ** In a future time, society has found a niche for children born with severe handicaps: They are encased in metal shells, attached to all sorts of electronics, and used to run factories, cities, and star ships.

The heroine of this book, Helva, is such a child, who has been built into a star ship. She IS the ship. She figures out how to sing through her electronic speakers, hence the title.

At heart, this is a romance novel. The "brain ships" of the book are paired with an ordinary human pilot. Helva and her first pilot fall in love, a romance in all but the sexual sense. Given that ship and pilot are alone together for months and years on end and are constantly working together, this doesn't seem implausible. You'd have to end up either loving or hating each other. Then -- WARNING! MINOR SPOILER COMING -- her pilot dies. Most of the book is about Helva dealing with grief and searching for a new love.

While I'm not a big fan of romance novels -- note I checked the box for "male" in my profile -- at its best this book is an excellent example of what science fiction can be. The author takes a speculative scientific premise: what if handicapped people could be made productive by wiring them into a spaceship like this? Then it examines the implications in an entertaining story. What would it be like to be wired into such a ship? How would such people fit in society? What would be the legal and moral implications? Etc.

On the down side, I thought this book tried too hard to tug at my emotions. Or perhaps I should say, the author's efforts were too abrupt. Characters were introduced and three sentences later I am apparently expected to care about them. I don't even know them yet. You need to build more. Too many characters with too many personal problem raced by too quickly. The pacing was just too fast for me to get emotionally involved with any of them but Helva herself. I think this book would have been better if it had had fewer characters and fewer "episodes", but had discussed each in greater depth.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 6, 2011 – Shelved
March 6, 2011 – Shelved as: science-fiction
March 6, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Aunt Edie I suspect the pacing issues you are describing are due to the fact that much of the book is comprised of cobbled together short stories. Once you realize that it makes more sense. Although still jarring.


Mark Johansen Aunt Edie wrote: "I suspect the pacing issues you are describing are due to the fact that much of the book is comprised of cobbled together short stories. Once you realize that it makes more sense. Although still ja..."

Fair enough. That explains how the book came to be this way. It's still a problem, though!


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