The Ship Who Sang Critical Essays

Anne McCaffrey


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Ship Who Sang contains several traditional science-fiction devices. Helva could not engage in her adventures across widely separated worlds without a faster-than-light travel device. An instantaneous communication system allows Helva to send messages over vast distances. A new science-fiction device is the Corviki psyche transfer, which allows humans to transfer their minds into Corviki envelopes.

Helva herself is the most important science-fictional aspect of the novel. Cyborgs had been used in science fiction before Anne McCaffrey created Helva, but the concept of such shell people is unique. She is a talented, optimistic, and mature young lady whose brain happens to control every aspect of her spaceship.

Although The Ship Who Sang was originally written and published as a series of short stories, the novel contains themes that link the episodes. First is the need for Helva to pay off the enormous debt owed to Central Worlds for her expensive modification and training. This concern is never far from Helva’s mind until she manages to pay off the debt fairly early in her career.

Healing is the second theme. Helva begins life as a disabled person made whole by technology. She also is wounded emotionally when her lover, Jennan, is killed. She begins her own healing with the healing of Theoda and Kira. Healing continues with the rehabilitation of the victims of the space plague in “The Ship Who Mourned.” Helva herself is a whole, mature young lady in “Dramatic Mission.” She aids the dying Solar Prane and his...

(The entire section is 644 words.)