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The Ship Who Won Hardcover – April 1, 1994
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McCaffrey continues to develop her brainship concept, with a new collaborator this time, the one who worked with her on The Death of Sleep (1990). The brainship Carialle and her brawn, Keff, find a habitable planet inhabited by an apparent mix of races and cultures and dominated by an elite of apparent magicians. Appearances are deceiving, however, and by the time the explorers have discovered the planet's secrets--not to mention other intelligent races--they find themselves in a desperate battle to save it. Knowing McCaffrey's background in space adventure and Nye's in humorous fantasy, you can tell whose influence is uppermost in certain passages, but ultimately the two blend their skills effectively to produce a brisk, well-told, often amusing tale that does not strive to do more than entertain but does so admirably. Fans of either author, or both, will have fun with this book. Roland Green
From Kirkus Reviews
A new entry in McCaffrey's Brain/Brawn series begun with The Ship Who Sang (1969) and continued by McCaffrey with various collaborators. The Brain here is Carialle, a bodiless human wired into spaceship SSS-900; the Brawn is supplied by Carialle's human partner, Keff. Explorers Carialle and Keff hope to achieve alien contact. Unfortunately, they also need to make discoveries that generate money and kudos: Cencom might not renew their contract, since a prior unpleasant experience has left Carialle psychologically vulnerable to bureaucratic shutdown. On the chilly planet Ozran they discover a population of furry humanoids ruled by irascible and arrogant ``wizards'' wielding what apparently are magic powers. The wizards take Keff captive but do not immediately learn of Carialle's existence. Keff is aided by Plennafrey, a young, beautiful, and rebellious wizard, and the more powerful Chaumel, who is at least willing to listen. Carialle, you see, has discovered that the source of the wizards' power is a projector called the core of Ozran, set up ages ago by one of two long- vanished, advanced alien races. The Core was designed to function as a weather control device, and in using it to power their magic, the wizards have doomed the planet to a slow, cold extinction. Only after Carialle reveals that the ubiquitous globe-frogs are actually the previous masters of Ozran, and that they are willing to help once the wizards cease their bickering, are the wizards persuaded to mend their ways. Bright and bubbly entertainment, though, despite the adult content, decidedly juvenile in style and tone; therefore more likely to appeal to the younger sections of McCaffrey's audience. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Twenty years ago Carialle and her first Brawn had been in a little explored region of space when they fell victim to sabotage which killed her Brawn and left Carialle floating helplessly in space, blind and unable to speak but aware and able to hear the silence around her. Even though she was eventually rescued Carialle had been severely traumatized by the experience, so much so that Central Worlds had grave concerns about allowing her back out into space. Still there were massive debts to recoup for her lifetime of care and training and so Carialle was once again paired with a Brawn, Keff. Twenty years into their partnership the two thought they had finally found what they were looking for, first contact with a new race of sentient beings. In fact it appeared as they may had found two. As Carialle and Keff continued their investigations though they discovered that they may have found far more than they had ever dreamed.
This novel, as is the rest of the Brain Ship series, is definitely in the Space Opera/Adventure category of story. The stories are reminiscent of the classic pulp fiction tales or Heinlein's juvenile novels in that new worlds, damsels in distress, strange aliens and even space pirates abound. The action is well planned, although a bit predictable at times. It is easy to sympathize with Carialle and Keff as they are well written characters that leave the readers wanting more. Happily there is a sequel to their adventures - THE SHIP ERRANT.
I was also disappointed that both this book and "The City Who Fought" seemed to leave some loose ends that Anne McCaffery didn't follow-up on herself. The sequels were authored solely by the contributing authors and require reading if you really want to finish up those stories. For instance, if you want to find out what really happened to Carialle in this book while she was drifting in space and on the brink of insanity (which was a primary point in this book) you will have to read "The Ship Errant" by Jody Lynn Nye.
She and Keff find other sentient beings on an uncharted planet, but something strange is going on. The inhabitants, who appear to be human, demonstrate awesome magical powers! Ruling over a lower caste of slaves, these people are colorful and passionate, and constantly waging magical wars with one another.
Carialle and Keff discover the secrets this world holds, and find that nothing on Orza is what it appears to be. The magicians themselves don't even know the true mysteries behind their powers. A wonderful novel, I heartily recommend it.