Interesting - a very different sort of concept. Cleverly written. Deformed children with severe physical limitations are used as the human mind guiding powerful ships. They are physchologically conditioned to be the "brain" of the ship and are partnered with a human "brawn" - a free-walking human, and sent on missions around the galaxy.
I read this book twenty year ago,enjoyed it then. I have again. whispercreek06
I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It is my first Anne McCaffrey book.
The concept is a human becomes the brain of a spaceship. The book is divided up into 6 events in the life of Helva, call sign XH-834. Along with the story of her travels, is the interaction between Helva and her passengers.
There's no great melodrama like in 2001. It's more like a small ship captains relationship with crew & guests. In this time frame many humans who are born critically physically damaged, with brain and mind in tact become captains of ships, trains, spaceships, etc.
The stories are not for deep thinkers. I find them entertaining, and interesting.
I really enjoyed this series.
Good reading this is book 1.
This book has a number of interesting concepts it addresses; namely, the differences between subjective definitions of "alive" and "dead", ideas of companionship and love, ideas of conditioning and breaking expectations. In fact, several instances of conditioning (be it subtle or overt) were near Orwellian in overall scope if not in degree.
However, I struggled to really connect to these characters and to their emotional or logical reactions to many of the problems they faced. True, it was a page-turner in a number of tense scenes, but the action was colored by a kind of separation between reader and character that I found difficult to overcome. I didn't completely find myself given over to the character until the last dozen pages of climatic action.
While the concepts were thought provoking, and I could easily see this book sparking quite a few discussions on what it means to be human, on social conditioning, or on social ramifications of prolonged life, this wasn't for me a good leisure read.
All in all, though, I don't regret having read it, and I'm certain some of the ideas presented within the text have left their mark.
Wonderful! A great mix of "hard" sci-fi, using the brains of hopelessly in compact at ed infants with little to no chance to live, and giving them a new body -a spaceship! Along with independence and a purpose - filled life; then mixing a little fantasy ("What if we could do this? How would it work?). The answer is -very well. Another Mccaffery triumph.