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25 January 2013

The Romance Madness Blog Hop


I'm excited to be taking part in the Romance Madness Hop.  It runs from January 25 to 29 (Friday to Tuesday) so you have five days during which you can take part.There are over Fifty blogs taking part, so the more you visit and comment on, the more chances you have to win.

I'll be giving away a copy of my fantasy novella 'Dancing With Fate' and a $6 Amazon voucher.

I have to write about one of my favourite romances.  Ah, there are so many, and I'd love to mention some of my wonderful author friends out there, but how could I choose just one or two?  Instead. the one I have chosen is one of the first Science Fiction stories I ever read, by a world famous author, Anne McCaffrey.  It's not strictly speaking a romance, in the way most people these days think of a romance, but it is certainly a love story and I was and still am, very moved by it.

The Ship Who Sang was published in 1969 and is a science fiction novellette, the first of five stories published between 1961and1969.  The stories became a series known as The Brain & Brawn Ship series, and are set in the future, in the Universe of Anne McCaffrey's Federated Sentient Planets.

Helva is a human being, born with a severe physical disability.  The parents of babies with such physical disabilities but fully developed and exceptionally talented brains, are given the choice of allowing them to become "shell people" rather than to be euthanased. Taking that option, physical growth is stunted, the body is encapsulated in a titanium life-support shell with capacity for various roles  in their adult life. As such, they suffer no pain and  live a comfortable existence in a metal shell for several centuries, performing unusual service for Central Worlds. After medication and surgery, general education, and special training, shell children reach adulthood with heavy debts which they must work off in order to become free agents. They are employed as the "brains" of spacecraft ("brainships"), hospitals, industrial plants, mining planets, and so on, even cities.

Helva becomes the "brain" of a starship.  A brainship is able to operate independently but is usually employed in partnership with one physically fit person called a "brawn" who travels aboard the ship as its pilot. A brawn is specially trained to be a companion and helper, the mobile half of the partnership. Their  training is long and intense and the brawns also need to have a high level of intelligence. Helva is no mere cyborg though, her human side is very evident. She laughs, reads, Shakespeare, listens to opera - and sings! Helva chooses a young man called Jennan as her "brawn".   As they get to know each other, their relationship develops to a deep and genuine love, despite the lack of any physical contact. The story ends on a tragic but very moving note, with Helva singing 'taps', but I don't want to give too much away, apart from saying that If you love SF romance, as I do, this is one story about an enduring love, that will stay in your mind long after you've read it.

I was so captivated by 'The Ship Who Sang" and later on by Anne McCaffrey's "Dragon" Series, that I wrote to her and asked if she had any advice for someone wishing to write - to my surprise I received a lovely postcard back from her, telling me to "write what I would like to read". I've never forgotten that advice, and and although my books published so far, Starquest, Children Of The Mist, and Dancing With Fate are  quite different to "The Ship Who Sang" or indeed, the "dragons of Pern" they certainly owe much to that piece of advice from a wonderful writer.

Anne McCaffrey passed away in November 2011, but she wrote a great many books, and several amazing series. Although she always termed herself a Science Fiction writer rather than a Fantasy writer, and would probably never have thought of herself as a romance writer, certainly all her stories have a strong romantic thread in them - but for me 'The Ship Who Sang' is the most beautiful and poignant of all.

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Remember, there are prizes to be won at every stop!
The Romance Reviews Romance Madness Hop

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To win a copy of Dancing With Fate and an Amazon Gift Voucher, just leave a comment. If you sign up for my Newsletter, Follow My Blog or Like my Facebook Page too, just let me know in your comment, and you'll gain an extra entry.

'STARQUEST'    'CHILDREN OF THE MIST'  (The sequel to Starquest)  Dancing With Fate      

                  Also available on Kindle