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Brain Ships (PartnerShip & The Ship Who Searched) Hardcover – November 4, 2003
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"Quite entertaining . . . captures the spirit of The Ship Who Sang . . . a single, solid plot. . . ." "Splendidly paced and filled with lively characters . . . [PartnerShip is] excellent entertainment." "A perfect combination of SF, adventure, and romance, this is sure to please a wide variety of readers." "[The Ship Who Searched is] superb . . . Lackey and McCaffrey have created a marvelous love story in an exciting science fictional setting and then topped it all off with an ingeniously spiffy resolution."
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The second novel, (3.5 stars) PARTNERSHIP is about another young brain (born into the 1% High Family class) who is partnered with something like a born-again Vulcan. On her first mission she overhears her High Family brat/thug passengers plotting highly illegal things and inexperienced as she is has to figure out how to deal with it since her brawn tells her it is unethical to tell anyone because they thought she was an AI. As the plotters schemes bear fruit over the years, Nancia has to watch and fume until her autocratic brawn is injured and she lucks out with the temp.
A wonderful combination of science fiction and adventure (with a sprinkling of romance), that will keep you engaged from the first page.
Hypatia (Tia) Cade is seven years old when she comes into contact with a mysterious virus on a planetary dig with her archeologist parents, and is left almost completely paralysed. Fortunately, she is an extraordinarily intelligent child and a good candidate for the shellperson programme. Upon her graduation, she begins what will be a successful career as a brainship, assigned to A and E.
This book is a genuine page-turner and reads just as well a second or third time. Tia is a sparkling character, particularly as a child, and her response to the heartbreaking consequences of the virus which infects her, will bring genuine tears to your eyes. As a brainship, Tia has a number of hair-raising adventures and, despite the fact that these are set in space and on unknown worlds, you will find yourself completely fascinated and engaged. The only criticism would be that the ending feels a little too convenient and far-fetched, but this is certainly not enough to detract from the overall quality of the story (and it could be argued that the concept of brainships themselves is equally as far-fetched).
If you like adventure, science fiction, some romance, and well-written characters, you can’t go wrong with this book.
A science fiction, adventure story told from the perspective of multiple characters, with a number of twists and a very satisfying denouement.
This story starts with an introduction to Nancia Perez y de Gras, sixteen years old and a newly graduated brainship, who is setting out on her first mission, transporting five other “High Families” graduates to their first jobs. What should have been a simple courier service assignment becomes complicated when Nancia overhears them discussing their unethical, immoral and illegal plans for “getting ahead”.
As the story continues, different chapters are narrated from the point of view of the other five “High Families” graduates, which is perhaps why this is not one of my favourite Anne McCaffrey stories. As much as it is possible to like and admire Nancia, the same cannot be said of these other protagonists. That being said, it is interesting to follow the story from a number of different perspectives, and there are a number of twists in the story that make this another real page-turner. Despite, or perhaps because of, their very different strengths and flaws, all the characters have depth and draw you in to their reality.
If you like character-driven science fiction and unexpected twists in a story, this book is worth a read.
Basically, children with incurable, severe physical birth defects can be "saved" by putting the person in a mechanical "shell," where their brains are connected to the machine. Although the books often refer to these people as "brains," it is not just a bare brain that's in there, it's the whole person. That person can choose a career that suits them, but basically they function as sentient computers guiding things like cities, hospitals and space ships. They are partnered with a highly-trained mobile person to act as their hands and legs, since the shell people have limited mobility.
PartnerShip details the adventures of brainship Nancia from the time she received her first mission. That first mission served to shape the entire novel, and involved escorting five less-than-savory highborn brats to their various assignments in remote systems. Nancia has no brawn for this first mission, and she is very naive in the ways of the world, but is quickly disgusted by her passengers. Eventually, she takes on a brawn for a partner and they fulfill various missions for the Courier Service. Her brawn sees things as black and white, with absolutely no shades of gray or slack, and this serves Nancia well at first. She wants to do what's right and honor her family and she realizes she doesn't have the experience in the world to always know what's right. However, she doesn't realize at first that there are many perspectives on "right," and not all may fit with a hard-line moral code.
As time goes on, Nancia slowly realizes that her brawn, Caleb, may not be right all the time, and his strict view of the universe is actually very limiting. The actions of her first passengers come back to haunt her, and eventually Caleb manages to get himself incapacitated. Because of the emergency situation, Nancia takes on a temporary brawn while Caleb heals. Her new brawn is nothing like her old one, and has a wealth of experience and humor that Caleb completely lacked.
The major plot of the book is interesting and the authors did a great job portraying the characters, and more importantly, their growth and maturation. Often I find that books where the character is supposed to "grow" are either not interesting or that "growth" is a sudden thing, rather than natural. In this book, it is completely believable that Nancia would start with one set of ideals and perspectives and slowly outgrow them. Nothing felt particularly forced about that, although her new brawn's sudden love of Nancia I found to be a bit out of synch with the rest of the story. Just seemed too sudden and out of the blue and gave me the feeling of a movie that has had some plot line left on the cutting room floor.
The other book in this series, The Ship Who Searched, is one of my favorites in the entire series. The book begins with a very independent and curious child, Hypatia Cade, who contracts a mysterious and life-changing illness on an archeological dig with her parents. (Get ready for some seriously touching and sad scenes). The illness completely paralyzes her, and in an unusual move, she is admitted to the Shellperson program. Her secret goal is to find the home world of the civilization her parents were excavating and hopefully discover the source of the virus that paralyzed her (and prevent any other child from suffering the same).
She's not impressed with any of the brawns she's presented, but finally chooses one she thinks might share some of her archaeological interests and that she could put up with. As they discover over a series of dangerous, routine and interesting missions, the two of them have a lot more in common than archaeology, and the ending is quite touching.
The characters are likeable without feeling forced, the missions are interesting, even the "routine" ones, there is action, adventure, love and friendship, and in general, it's a great read. If you liked The Ship Who Sang, you'll probably like The Ship Who Searched. It's got the same feeling and spirit, and leaves you feeling satisfied.