Literature Annotations

McCaffrey, Anne
The Ship Who Sang

Genre Novel
KeywordsDisability, Human Worth, Love, Medical Advances, Medical Ethics, Science Fiction, Society, Technology
SummaryIn the future envisioned in the novel, many children are born with severe physical handicaps, the result of toxic environmental conditions. Their brains, however, are perfectly healthy. Scientists place the infants' stunted bodies in mechanical shells, then train them to perform complex technical tasks. At adolescence, their brains are removed from their bodies and placed in machines. Their machines are their bodies, over which they have complete control. The Ship Who Sang is the story of one of these children who is placed inside the hull of a space ship. She falls in love with one of the fleshly men who board her. The resulting trauma is resolved when it is decided that they will be partnered forever.
CommentaryThis novel raises ethical issues about the treatment of handicapped children. What constitutes "quality of life"? It also forces a reconceptualization of embodiment. The heroine's body is a ship, but it is portrayed as being as much a part of her as flesh would be. What is the relationship between body and mind?
Place PublishedNew York
Annotated by Moore, Pamela
Date of Entry 05/20/94