I read this sometime in the 90s but it may well be older. I remember

  • A female character had been fitted with a system that allowed her to induce physical pleasure (orgasms at will if you like) as restitution for a crime committed against her1. Part of the story arc was another character's attempt to convince her to leave her bubble of pleasure (I seem to remember her as floating for some reason) and help the main character.

  • The major plot twist was that at the end we realize that

    the narrator is actually the main character's ship that was given sentience at some point during the novel's story. The last chapter is narrated by her (the ship) in the first person.

I really don't remember much else about it apart from that it was far future and space opera(ish). Also, sentient ships were not the norm, this is not a Banks book for example.

1 I was a teenager, that's the kind of thing that stuck in my mind at the time.

  • 4
    It almost sounds like it might be from Anne McCaffrey's Brawn and Brain "Ship" books. However, some of the details sound like they don't quite align.
    – Xantec
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:06
  • @Xantec thanks but no, I haven't read those, I've only read her Pern books and there was no organic creature at the core of the starship.
    – terdon
    Feb 28, 2014 at 17:08
  • Having an organic creature at the core of a starship is not the same thing as being a sentient starship.
    – JohnP
    Feb 28, 2014 at 19:32
  • @JohnP sorry, my comment was not clear. In the Brawn and Brain books that Xantec suggested there are organic creatures that serve as some sort of core for starships (according to his link), in my case it is a sentient starship.
    – terdon
    Mar 1, 2014 at 18:58
  • Could it be Farscape? It's a bit younger than you suggest, but may as well hazard a guess. Oct 9, 2015 at 1:21

2 Answers 2


Maybe you are thinking about the book Light written by M. John Harrison.

The book centres on the lives of three individuals — the physicist (and serial killer) Michael Kearney, on the verge of a breakthrough in theoretical physics sometime in 1999; Seria Mau Genlicher, the cybernetically-altered female pilot of a "K-ship", and the ex-space pilot and adventurer Ed Chianese. Seria Mau and Ed's stories take place in the year 2400 AD.


Are you thinking of The Void Captains Tale by Norman Spinrad?

Theodore Sturgeon explained the "erotic form of space travel" in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: "Spinrad's ingenious space-drive has the ship's machine create a field . . . which at peak and at captain's command melds with the pilot's psyche, causing the ship to cease to exist in one spatial locus and reappear in another." During transit, the pilot experiences orgasm—this unique form of travel requires the pilot to be a virgin. Typically pilots are not part of the social life of the ship, and the occupation takes a physical toll.

  • Heh, nice but no. The erotic undertones were not quite so explicit.
    – terdon
    Mar 3, 2014 at 16:37
  • That's really a bad idea. Crew be like "Ship, stop jumping all over the galaxy for no reason! We need to stop, we are out of food and water! ARRR!" Oct 21, 2020 at 11:30

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