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Brainship #3

The Ship Who Searched

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A young woman becomes paralyzed and must become a brainship—and find her Brawn, her human soul mate, so that she can discover a cure for her illness.

Tia Cade is a headstrong, smart, and very normal girl until she contracts a terrible illness that leaves her with the bare semblance of life. Tia's only hope: to become the oldest person ever to train to be one of the legendary star travelers, the brainships. But now that Tia is free of her ravaged body, there still remains the task of finding the right partner to be her Brawn, the human element every brainship requires. And when the disease that debilitated Tia threatens thousands more, selecting a Brawn who is her true soul mate may allow Tia to find the origin of the terrible plague—and perhaps even a cure.

312 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1992

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

406 books6,946 followers
Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.

Her working career included Liberty Music Shops and Helena Rubinstein (1947-1952). She married in 1950 and had three children: Alec Anthony, b. 1952, Todd, b.1956, and Georgeanne, b.1959.

Anne McCaffrey’s first story was published by Sam Moskowitz in Science Fiction + Magazine and her first novel was published by Ballantine Books in 1967. By the time the three children of her marriage were comfortably in school most of the day, she had already achieved enough success with short stories to devote full time to writing. Her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.

She died at the age of 85, after suffering a massive stroke on 21 November 2011.

Obituaries: Locus, GalleyCat.

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5 stars
4,537 (40%)
4 stars
3,839 (34%)
3 stars
2,457 (21%)
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61 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 160 reviews
Profile Image for Salena Ross.
31 reviews5 followers
February 15, 2013
I think this has to be one of my favorite books. I first read it about ten years ago, and have read it at least once a year since then. The first chapter snares the attention and reels you in. I was reading another novel, and an excerpt from this book was in the back. I read it, and had to have it. I devoured it as soon as I got my hands on it, finishing it in an afternoon. And I wasn't disappointed.

One thing I love about Anne McCaffrey is the way she wrote female characters. So often, in sci-fi and fantasy, I find myself hating female characters, especially leads. Because the lead should never be the weakest part of the story, and I feel they frequently are, in those genres. But Anne McCaffrey didn't have that problem. Tia, despite being a ship, is so human, so real. There is never a point in the book where I dislike her, or Alex.

The plotline isn't a space opera. There is no war. The conflict is on a smaller scale, and I like that. I love me some space opera, but sometimes I want a story about a courier ship dealing with plague and human interests.
Profile Image for Lisa (Harmonybites).
1,834 reviews326 followers
April 21, 2010
This is another of the "Brain and Brawn" series created by Anne McCaffrey in The Ship Who Sang. The premise behind the books is that in a future time, severely handicapped people are given a chance at a fulfilling life by becoming cyborgs: an entire city or a ship becomes their "body" that they control.

Only that first book is solely written by McCaffrey--the others in the series are co-written by her or by others. Of those other books, this is my favorite--I love it just as much as the first, and this is among my favorite stories by either McCaffrey or Lackey. The reason is Tia, the "brain" part in this novel; I find her an appealing character, and I loved how this book dealt with her dilemma as a person cut off from touch but not the emotions of love.

This book also presents quite a departure for Mercedes Lackey--almost all her work is fantasy, not, like this one, science fiction. If you want to try more by her, Sacred Ground and Children of the Night, though not as popular as her Valdemar books, are in a contemporary setting--urban fantasy. Arrows of the Queen is her first Valdemar book, the series which she's best known for, just as for McCaffrey she's most famous for her Pern books, which begins in Dragonflight.
Profile Image for Alex Satrapa.
20 reviews
October 20, 2016
I couldn't put the book down once I started, and ended up surfacing from this thoroughly involving story at 4am the next day. Whoops!

The Ship Who Searched starts simply enough: we are introduced to the protagonist (Hypatia Cade) as a child, living with her xeno-archaeologist parents on a remote dig site, with the story introducing the precocious brat, her life alone with her loving parents, and the onset of the disease which turns her into a quadriplegic. Anne & Mercedes know how to pull those heartstrings, to the point where you can't help but want to move the universe to get the poor child into a brainship yourself.

The advantage for this book over the first Brainship book is that it was written from start to finish as one novel, while The Ship Who Sang was an omnibus of short stories modified to work in together. Once again, you have to remember that Anne Mccaffrey wrote Science Fantasy more than Science Fiction. Anne & Mercedes tell a wonderful story about the people, with "outer space" being the flavour of the story while the character development is the substance. Expect to see some “Mary Sue” action, since Hypatia and her companion do have fantastic adventures. But also expect to have some fun and shed a few tears along the way.

A thoroughly enjoyable piece of escapist fantasy with a science fiction feel.

Oh, and bring your teddy bear with you!
Profile Image for Kelsey.
101 reviews
October 5, 2007
One of my favorite books of all time, and one I can easily read over and over! This is my favorite of all the brainship books. I love the characters and the story...it is just wonderful!
Profile Image for Joan.
1,963 reviews
January 24, 2020
Perhaps not quite 4 stars but pretty close. Tia is an unusually well adjusted bright 7 year old. Fortunately, since she is about to have a life altering horrendous neural disease that ends her in a shell person and a brain ship. Having learned from watching a friend of hers, she is extremely picky about who becomes her brawn. Has she made the right choice in career and brawn? Read to find out!

This lost a star by leaving some important points completely unfinished. One minute Tia and Alex (the brawn) are feeling very sorry for a guy named Hank who likely has a nastier disease than Tia did and are checking out a planet to see if the plague Hank has is from there. Then we never hear of Hank again. For that matter we never get a resolution for the baddies trying to attack Tia. Then we all of a sudden are out of space in a pricey yet ordinary boardroom. Finally we jump to the brainship which is very ominously empty of Tia. I’ll admit the ending is nice and romantic but I’m not so convinced it is the logical ending to the story. The ending almost belongs in another book. But I couldn’t put the book down. Tia is a very sweet person and you’re cheering for her all the way. It deserves the 4 stars in spite of the plot holes.
Profile Image for Michael.
815 reviews81 followers
November 20, 2015
I gave this one 3 stars because of the ending (mentioned in spoiler tags below). Up until the ending, I was wavering between 4 and 5 stars.

It is hard to get used to these books as full length novels, after reading The Ship Who Sang, which was a collection of short stories about one particular Brainship. But it was well done as a novel, employing multiple plotlines and mysteries to great effect as the Brainship and her Brawn explore the Universe. I liked the main character in this one, Tia, as her background is interesting and her story allowed for a lot of discussion of disability and the treatment of the differently abled. She was a strong female character because of her science background and the use of her intelligence to move the plot forward.

The ending was a big disappointment for me, because I thought it undermined a lot of the themes that were being built during the course of the book. It was almost like the authors had this interesting plot idea, and they figured they would throw it in at the end even though it didn't fit with the characters in this story. I thought it was a cheap gimmick.
Profile Image for zjakkelien.
612 reviews19 followers
July 9, 2016
The ship who searched is about the brain ship Hypatia, or Tia. She is an exceptional brain ship, because she was quite old when she became a shell person: 7. She is interested in archeology and finds a brawn who is interested in the same. Together they get into a few scrapes...

The book was written in typical McCaffrey style, not over-emotional, but compelling nonetheless. I love this world with people who become ships and I like seeing how they interact with the world. The story itself is not overly brilliant, it is more a collection of adventures that show off the world, much like the first book. Only in this book, the adventures are more connected. I thought the ending was a bit too happy, but other than that, this was a very nice book.
Profile Image for Ellen B..
68 reviews2 followers
March 27, 2013
McCaffrey is kind of a hack (I say this as someone who ravenously consumed every Dragonriders of Pern book she could as a teen) but oh man this made me cry and cry (in a good way).

I guess I liked it because it's kind of a weird emotional romance novel?
Profile Image for Terralyn.
1,006 reviews43 followers
October 27, 2022
Ahhh…….soooo satisfying with just enough romance to inspire one’s imagination.
4 1/2 -5 Stars ✨
This was a reread from way back in the day and it was just as creative and engaging as the first impression. Hurray for Anne McCaffrey! I’ve read them all and I loved every one. My all-time favorite author.
Looking at books #1 & #3, I believe this series can be read in any order as the theme is the same but the characters are wonderfully crafted and different in each book. Dive in and enjoy.

Note to self: 3rd in the Brain Ships series, SciFi, off world. I was unable to acquire #2 to read in order, but am continuing to search.
Profile Image for Graham.
599 reviews9 followers
August 18, 2014
A long time ago I found a collection of Anne McCaffrey which comprised 'restoree', 'decision at doona' and 'the ship who sang'. This last book introduced us to the idea of people who were highly disabled being enabled by forming the 'brain' of a spaceship. The concept was fascinating: a synthesis of organic and mechanical life that allowed highly intelligent people to reach the stars. This book, 'the ship who searched', takes the concept further: rather than being paralysed from birth Tia catches an alien virus which robs her of mobility. Predictable story? Yes, somewhat, but McCaffrey's writing - taking us inside heads, examining motivations, her lovely slightly sarcastic tone on occasion - is delightful.
As an example of character writing, this is great. As a plot… it's a bit lazy on occasion.
Profile Image for Beau N..
161 reviews2 followers
May 29, 2018
Another lovely story about two souls meeting and falling perfectly for each other.

There's no real 'bad guy' in this one. Just a string of adventures and a happy ending for a child who, at one point, thought it was all over before she'd even begun.

I'd be happy to continue on with Tia and Alex to find the EsKays.

Overall, a good edition to the Brain and Brawn series. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Anna.
646 reviews4 followers
January 31, 2008
I love Anne McCaffrey’s books & this was a fabulous read that I couldn’t put down.

A tale of courage and adventure, set in the same universe as “The Ship Who Sang”. A precocious seven-year-old girl has been afflicted by a paralyzing alien virus, and cannot survive outside a mechanical support system. She straps on a spaceship and sets out to find what it was that laid her low.
Profile Image for Alethea Kontis.
Author 132 books1,464 followers
March 16, 2012
Two of my very favorite authors, and for me the best book in the series. There is so little really good YA science fiction out there, and this book is one of the best. Tia's story is just heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. It's also possible that I'm biased because I have a Very Special Teddy Bear of my own.
Profile Image for Sarah Bird.
8 reviews
March 30, 2013
I found the ending a little unsatisfying as we don't get to know if Tia found a cure for the illness that crippled her. Apart from that it was a satisfying read.
Profile Image for Daniel Beck.
78 reviews6 followers
August 25, 2014
Fun, but with a sort of simplistic conflict and solution and some iffy perspectives on disability.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,576 reviews90 followers
May 12, 2021
wow, that was quick

didn't have the emotional impact reading the book did and the reader's pronunciation of Hypatia and her robot-voiced AI detracted from it, but wow, since I love the book...
Profile Image for Norah.
28 reviews
May 28, 2022
aside from the funky pacing of the second half of the book and the emotional development, this is such a solid book lmao. the prose is GREAT. fun, quick read
22 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2017
A precocious only child of a pair of archeologist who search for archeological dig sites spends significant time alone with the AI and has friend that is a brainship. She contracts an untreatable virus which wrecks havoc with her nervous system. A bright mind with a challenging, interesting future ahead of her, Tia our heroine is now trapped in body that does not move or feel. Her teddy bear is a symbol of her childhood, her vulnerability and her strength, never give up, be strong. It is a symbol of her humanity throughout the story. It is at this point that the science fiction component arises, what if?
(We are now about 1/4 through the story The reader has gotten to know Tia and the supporting characters. You feel this moment.) The big decision to release her body and become a shell person is a turning point. Tia opts for a ship because she wants to travel and explore. The ship becomes her body. The ships sensors how she feels.
In the story we next see Tia as she is ready to select her brawn who is her mobile human partner. She has had her training and is ready to go to work. She has a lot of debt to repay. We learn more about the community of shell people and meet people who will become important in her future.
The reader follows Tia and Alex, her brawn, through their adventures. There are underlying themes of doing what is right (not easy), helping others and pursuing dreams. Love and caring are a large part of the book. Being friends and loving someone for who they are and not how they look is a constant theme. Tia often recognizes or acknowledges idiosyncrasies in others as she figures out how they will fit into her web of relationships. People as people are important.
We leave Tia and Alex as the story closes at a point that they weren't sure that they would ever achieve but even more interesting at the cusp of something even greater, with an invention that will change society. And again, what if?

This is a harder book to use in a class or small group. People may be able to relate more closely to Tia's situation because of experience. It could be emotional. There are a lot of "hard" decisions in the story, lots of opportunity to explore where the story might have gone if a different decision was made by one of the characters. Or a different tact is to explore the technology versus humanity theme. The story was written in 1992. There has been huge growth in prosthetics and robotics just in the past few years. This was more of a fiction story when it was written 25 years ago. Where do you think we will be in another 25 years with our technology? Could this story become a reality? How? Why? Is the human component (empathy, compassion, love, friendship) important? How does technology inhibit/aid these components of humanity? Traditional shell persons often are disassociated from their humanity. How or why do you think this occurs? Can you think of instances of this happening today in our world? What is beauty? What is beautiful? Tia often comments on be beautiful people. Why do you think she does this?
Profile Image for Katy.
803 reviews6 followers
July 11, 2021
This has to be even better than the Ship Who Sings, for me.

Hypatia Cade, known as Tia to her friends, is the 7 year old daughter of a couple of archeologists, and she lives with them at their Esk Dig. Tia is an extremely bright, and emotionally stable child, and her best friend is a Brainship called Moira who, on visiting the Site just after Tia's birthday, gifts her with a wonderfully soft, blue bear, who is dressed in a Courier Service uniform.

Soon after Moira and her Brawn go off on their rounds of Digs again, Tia finds a junk site that she feels belongs with the Esk site that her parents are studying and, in order to save time, she collects a couple of samples, although one crumbles as she tries to move it, and she breathes in some of the dust.

A few weeks later, Tia has trouble with her feet, as they first start feeling prickly, and then slowly go numb. Because she doesn't want to disturb her parents in their important work, she consults the Medtech box in the site but, because she didn't know what had caused the problem, she didn't tell the Medtech, and it assumed she was going through a growth spurt.

As time goes on, and because her parents were working so many more long hours, that she didn't want to disturb them, it got to the point where her hands went numb too, and then the numbness crept up her legs and arms. It was only because her parents had a day off, and she stumbled in front of them, that they realised there was a problem, and so Tia was shipped out to a Central Worlds hospital where, eventually, whatever had caused her problem was stopped - but not before she was numb to her neck, and had become a quadriplegic.

Her Consultant, Doctor Kenny, who is a paraplegic - disabled through an accident - gets his friend, Lars, the Central Worlds Medstation Brain, to help him recommend Tia to the Shell programme, as her mind was still perfectly clear, and he hated the thought of her being stuck in a room for the rest of whatever life she might have left.

He knew that, if she were accepted as a Shellperson, she would have many, many more decades of life to live, with the choice of any job that she fancied.

Through Kenny and Lars' insistence, and Tia's natural character, even despite her age, she is accepted in to the programme and, on her graduation, accepts a job as a Brainship, to the Archeology and Exploration Service that her parents worked for. She was fitted as a Brainship, to work for A and E as a Courier Ship, just as her friend Moira was.

From then on, Tia chooses her Brawn, a man called Alexander, who was also an archeology buff, and their service life together begins.

They have many adventures, and discover many things, and the rest of the book tells all that happens to them, with all the same gentle humour, and love of people, that both Anne McCaffrey, and Mercedes Lackey, are capable of showing in their writing.

The fact that it's two of my most favourite of authors writing together, is definitely a bonus for me. And I both laughed, and also shed many a tear, in its reading.

Totally unputdownable!
Profile Image for Summerita Rhayne.
Author 21 books54 followers
March 28, 2018
If you finish a book in little over two days, I think there's no need to expound on how you found it. I rarely read sci fi. Thanks to Fiona for recommending it. Actually I picked it up because I wanted to write about women and technology conflict. This was perfect for my purpose but sadly I forgot about writing and became immersed in reading which says much about the readability of the work. I would have liked a more definite conclusion as far as the quest was concerned but since this is a series, maybe that was deliberately left loose. Otherwise, the central characters take the day and make it an engrossing book.
Profile Image for Rhode PVD.
2,331 reviews23 followers
April 6, 2022
Reread after many years. Why does heterosexual longing have to be included in this friendship between a woman who has total control over her hormonal composition and a straight man? Why is there ugly subtext for another woman who likes to wear leather and be in charge? Why is the hero so impacted when he learns a woman who’s encased in a titanium column was a very pretty little girl before that?

It’s full of gross attitudes that I am saddened to think I read less critically and took in years ago. Yuck.
1,523 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2020
The Ship Who Sang is one of my all-time favorite novels. Reading this during a pandemic is——interesting. However, it came across as a trifle saccharin/Disney to me.
Tia is a genius level child who travels around with archaeology parents. She gets hit with an unknown alien virus. Her parents and doctors push for her to become a Brainship when her body/nervous system breaks down. However, she is older than they usually accept....
Profile Image for Georgann.
639 reviews20 followers
December 15, 2020
This book was absolutely what I needed to read in this moment. Between all that has been going on at home, in the nation and in the world, I needed a book with a heroine beyond compare, a hero who did the right thing even when afraid, and a happy ending. Some tense moments, BUT no betrayals, no backstabbing, no treachery, thank goodness! So it gets 5 stars for being the right book at the right time.
11 reviews
January 8, 2021
A story of life, love, and exploration among the stars.

This was was one of my early introductions in high school to SciFi and Anne McCaffrey and loved it from the start. Now re-reading for the first time in over 20 years I can appreciate the details even more.

It’s not long and does leave you wanting more. There are definitely unlaying themes I missed as a child that make it more thought provoking. Another lovely addition to the series.
Profile Image for F. William Davis.
684 reviews17 followers
February 14, 2021
Another fabulous story in the Brain Ship series. I would say this one was better again, again. I loved the characters, I loved their relationships and interactions. I thought the story was enjoyable and captivating.

I did like the ending. There seems to be a bit of a Brain and Brawn boundary pushing in these novels and I thought this one probably handled it best... so far. I'm ready to see where the next story takes us.
75 reviews
December 12, 2022
Both Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey are both in my list of favored writers. I have read their works for the last 60 years or so and recommend it to all. I collect books and have several thousand but missed this so when I came across it at a restaurant, I bought it thinking to reread it but discovered I had missed it in "The Ship Who ..." series and found it very well written and entertaining with an unexpected ending. I strongly recommend it!
Profile Image for Nicola Hawkes.
197 reviews5 followers
July 13, 2019
I have a whole shelf of McCaffrey, with most I imagine being the first editions, as I started them probably 35 years ago. Reread some of them regularly, usually in times of stress or illness, particularly the Harper Hall books. This is one of my favourite Brain books, mainly because of the emotional start, and then the variety of trips Tia and her brawn is involved with.
Profile Image for Lesley Barklay.
Author 7 books9 followers
February 8, 2021
This is a re-read for me, and it's my favourite of the Brainship series.

I absolutely fell in love with Tia when I first read the book as a young teen, and her brawn Alexander is absolutely delightful. I love the relationship between the two of them, as they work together to thwart plagues, pirates, and other potential disasters.

I highly recommend this book!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 160 reviews

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