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McCaffrey, Anne
book-date: 1969
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Greg & Tim Hildebrandt

Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang. The McCaffrey books I like best were her first half-dozen books from the late Sixties and early Seventies (before she started "sharecropping" or inviting other other authors to collaborate in worlds she had already established.) This collection of the "Helva" stories is her 4th book. I haven't read my copy for decades, so I'm quoting from a couple of book reviews: one to give the set-up, and another to give a reaction to the book overall:

"Helva is the ultimate and logical development of the cyborg concept - a human brain which is part of and controls a complex organism. Helva is the ship in which her brain has been encased ever since she became an adult - and Anne McCaffrey never lets you doubt her humanity. She is no Hal; she is no Adam Link; and she is always completely feminine. By the very nature of her life, trouble-shooting among the star-worlds, she is usually very close to tragedy. In the opening episode, the tragedy is her own, as her first living partner - her first "brawn" and her first love - is killed. Later she finds that other, whole people have their tragedies, too, and so do other ships..." [-P. Schuyler Miller, Analog September 1970.]

"...All these confusions seem to me to be the result of a lack of rewriting. In its last episode, when the book really picks up, when people lose their mechanically explanatory voices and start yelling at each other, when Helva finds her second love, a short, blunt-mannered, vain, fake-hard-boiled guy who's a bit of a dandy, SHIP turns into quite a good thing. Even at its silliest the book has a contagious joyfulness. An added pleasure: people's motives are usually connected with love or family feeling, a respite from the war, commerce, and rivalry of the usual space romance. Write more of the same sort, say I." [-Joanna Russ, Magazine of F&SF July 1970.]

The Ship Who Sang - Contents:
The Ship Who Sang
The Ship Who Mourned
The Ship Who Killed
Dramatic Mission
The Ship Who Dissembled
The Partnered Ship
These originally appeared from 1961 to 1969 - in Magazine of F&SF, Analog, Galaxy and IF. "The Partnered Ship" is original, and "Dramatic Mission" is expanded (9 pages added to end.) "Dramatic Mission" was a Hugo and Nebula nominee.