I read a sci fi book roughly 20 years ago (late nineties) but for the life of me I cannot remember the title nor locate the book on Amazon or elsewhere online. I don't know when the book was actually written. It is quite an unusual book filled with somewhat bizarre scenes. I don't know if it's hard sci fi exactly but it's certainly for mature audiences only, not for kids. Here are the details I remember (just bits and pieces):
It's set in a very technologically advanced universe and the setting is loosely Star Wars like. It's about a small ragtag group of I think refugees who are escaping from some sort of totalitarian government or organization.
They fly in a spaceship which I believe was named the Lightning or something similar.
One of the main characters is a tribal woman who works as some kind of agent for a giant supercomputer that rewards her successful achievements by flooding every pleasure center of her brain, causing her to pass out from sheer pleasure. This reward is effectively her payment, and she continues to work for the computer for these pleasure hits.
Either this woman's tribe, or some other tribe in the book, is totally female, except the Alpha Female, who turns male. If the Alpha Male dies, the next female in the hierarchy becomes male and becomes the new Alpha Male (quite bizarre, but clownfish from the "Finding Nemo" animated movie also actually exhibit similar behavior called sequential hermaphroditism).
The ragtag band flees from planet to planet. On one planet, they are asked to implant one of their crew member's minds into the body of the planetary fairy queen, a woman of considerable power, perhaps somewhat psychic or magical power.
The leader of the ragtag group asks one of his crewman, a big burly guy, whether he would like his mind transferred into the fairy queen's body. The big burly guy seriously considers it, but finally declines, and they choose a female crewmember instead, who becomes the new fairy queen. Part of the process involves removing her previous memories however, so she no longer remembers her old crew and truly becomes the queen of the planet.
I may not be remembering everything exactly correctly, but this is the gist. I think the book may have been part of a series. If anyone knows the title of this book, please let me know! I've been searching forever but just can't find it. Thank you!