The Ship Who Sang Author:Anne McCaffrey Helva was born severely deformed, yet the electro-encephalogram routinely administered to newborns showed that her mind was receptive and alert. With unexpected hope to offset their grief, her parents chose to give her the only life they could - as a shell-person: the brain of a spaceship destined for Central Worlds' Scout Service. — For childre... more »n who qualified, the delicate transformation began in infancy. Helva's useless body was encapsulated in a special metal shell, her neural responses adjusted to the manipulation of mechanical extensions instead of arms and legs. Then, together with her classmates at Central Laboratory School, she embarked on a training regime that became increasingly sophisticated.
The program was intensive, designed to prepare each student for a rich, rewarding life. Singing wasn't actually part of the curriculum, but Helva's habit of crooning absentmindedly as she worked led a visitor to the school to remark that she had a lovely voice.
Shell-people used their own vocal cords and diaphragms, though sounds issued through microphones rather than mouths. Intrigued by the possibilities the visitor's comment raised, Helva learned to adapt and control her technique. By the time she was installed in her ship, the XH-834, she'd mastered a full tonal range, bass to coloratura, and could sing any song that struck her fancy - an extraordinary talent.
Yet it wasn't until she met Jennan that Helva truly came into her own. He was the ideal partner for her - the "brawn" that perfectly complemented her "brain" . . . a man who recognized that she was a unique and gifted person. Their missions together whether carrying vaccine to a distant system ravaged by plague or helping to destroy a vicious narcotics ring - brought them closer than she would have believed possible during all the years of training. And before long they became known throughout Central Worlds as a first-rate team with a curious musical bent: the Ship Who Sang.
Helva looked ahead to a future that seemed to hold infinite promise - unafraid of danger, unconcerned by the passage of time and the whims of fate . . .« less