Top critical review
Frogs. In. SPACE!
Reviewed in the United States on April 24, 2013
THIS IS TWO NOVELS! Because the wonderful Amazon summary doesn't tell you this, it is The Ship Who Won and The Ship Errant, both novels in the Brain Ships series, and both about the same brain/brawn team.
That being said, if you're familiar with any of the other brain/brawn books, this series has a similar outline, but a much different feel, especially in the first novel, The Ship Who Won. If you're not familiar, that's not an issue; each individual novel in the series stands on it's own, and requires absolutely no previous knowledge for you to get the general concept. Basically, children with incurable, severe physical birth defects can be "saved" by putting the person in a mechanical "shell," where their brains are connected to the machine. Although the books often refer to these people as "brains," it is not just a bare brain that's in there, it's the whole person. That person can choose a career that suits them, but basically they function as sentient computers guiding things like cities, hospitals and space ships. They are partnered with a highly-trained mobile person to act as their hands and legs, since the shell people have limited mobility.
The first novel is less sci-fi and more sci-fantasy, with a pretty heavy emphasis on the fantasy feel. A space exploration brain/brawn team lands on a planet that appears to have at least two sentient races on it, but one race is enslaved and the other acts as overlords. The overlords wield a power that appears to be magic; they can fly, fling lightning bolts and so on, without any obvious power source. Misunderstandings and shenanigans ensue when the exploration team is mistaken for a powerful mage, and everyone discovers there are two sentient species on the planet, but not the ones they expect and the "magic" is explained "scientifically."
The second book follows the same brain/brawn crew and one of those nifty alien species to reunite with the long-lost home world and solve a nagging issue of pirates and supposed insanity with the brainship.
I wavered between three and four stars for this set because I did enjoy the books, but not as much as the others in the same series. The characters were alright and the plot was fine, but it just didn't draw me in as much as the others, and having read them first, it was slightly disappointing. I found it interesting that in both novels, there are no real villains, and I'm not sure if that added or detracted from the books. Sure, there are people you won't like and who appear to do bad things, but they feel justified in their minds, much like real people, so that's good. But none of them do anything really bad, just sort of "dickish," so it gives you the feeling that they're coworkers you just don't like.
Overall, it's a nice set to round out the series, or get you started if you're unfamiliar with it, but you may like the other books better.
AMAZON: Why no Kindle version of The Ship Who Sang? Considering you have every other book in this series and tangential series', why on earth do you not have the very first book, that kicked it all off?