This is a story from sometime in or before the early 1980s. The gist is that there's a kid who spends his whole life dreaming about being the pilot of a space-going passenger craft. However he can't because all the pilots are tall, handsome, square-jawed and so on, and he's a complete six-stone weakling and ugly as sin, albeit very skilled.

However he triumphs in the end because it turns out that these ships are actually piloted by guys like him, hidden in the bowels of the ship and plumbed in to the computers, and the good-looking fly-boy types are actually all as dumb as rocks and just there for show, and to make the passengers feel comfortable.

I have a feeling that this might have been a one-off strip in 2000AD comic, although it could also have been in an SF anthology of some kind. Ringing any bells ?

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    This isn't it I am sure, but this basically describes the plot of the movie Gattaca, except that in the movie the "tall, handsome, square-jawed ...jocks" are genetically engineered and are also very smart.
    – NominSim
    Apr 19, 2012 at 11:32
  • I was thinking along the same lines. Sounds very much like Gattaca. imdb.com/title/tt0119177
    – Chris
    Apr 19, 2012 at 13:00
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    This isn't like Gattaca. That's a movie about genetic modification. The main character is a natural born baby with no genetic modifications which leaves him with a heart murmur that keeps him from joining this space exploration program. He wasn't even trying to be a pilot. This story sounds completely different from Gattaca. Apr 19, 2012 at 13:37
  • Thanks, but I'm talking a story written before the early 80s.
    – Alan B
    Apr 19, 2012 at 13:53
  • @KevinHowell Hence the comment, and the preface of "This isn't it I am sure"
    – NominSim
    Apr 19, 2012 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Sounds a lot like the Brain & Brawn series from Anne McCaffrey et alii (Wiki link)

The premise is that children who are deformed but with otherwise healthy brains can be transplanted into "shells" (a reinforced life support cylinder for the brain only), they become the "brains" of the ships. They are partnered with "brawns" who provide the physical part of the deal.

  • It does indeed and I suspect the one I am thinking of may have 'borrowed' the concept. Will investigate further ...
    – Alan B
    Apr 22, 2012 at 15:53
  • This is the closest to what I'm thinking of so I'm going to accept this as the answer.
    – Alan B
    Apr 24, 2012 at 7:51

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