“The Ship Who Sang,” Anne McCaffrey, 1961 – A woman with severe disabilities is offered the chance to become a “shell person”—a human brain encased in a machine–after which she will work off her debt as a ship with a “soft person” pilot.
Comments: Read in Women of Wonder: Classic Years. A much-anthologized tale of a (genderless?) human-hybrid. The story has been the subject of criticism concerning its portrayal of both gender and disabilities. See, for example, the short review at NYU’s Litmed, which raises the question of “quality of life” for handicapped children, or longer treatments, such as Jessica Amanda Salmonsen’s “Gender Structuring of Shell Persons in The Ship Who Sang,” New York Review of Science Fiction, 1989 June; 10: 15-18.. The story is also seen as linked to transhumanism and cyberpunk due to its use of a human-machine interface.
Author: Wikipedia: “Anne Inez McCaffrey (1 April 1926 – 21 November 2011) was an American-born Irish writer, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. During McCaffrey’s 46-year career, she won Hugo and Nebula Awards…Anne Inez McCaffrey was born in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts…She attended Stuart Hall (a girls’ boarding school in Staunton, Virginia), and graduated from Montclair High School in New Jersey. In 1947 she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College with a degree in Slavonic Languages and Literature…Her book The White Dragon became one of the first science-fiction novels to appear on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2005 the Science Fiction Writers of America named McCaffrey the 22nd Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame on 17 June 2006.”