A while back, I started my top ten list of books that got me into the fantasy / gaming scene.
Mercedes Lacky is a well known author that has written dozens of books. I have read a few but the one that captivated me was "The Ship Who Sang" (follow the link to read a good chunk of the first chapter).
The Premise: (from Wikipedia)
"The Brain & Brawn Ship series is set in the future of our universe and in McCaffrey's Federated Sentient Planets.
The parents of babies with severe physical disabilities but fully
developed and exceptionally talented brains may allow them to become
"shell people" rather than to be euthanised. Taking that option,
physical growth is stunted, the body is encapsulated in a titanium
life-support shell with capacity for computer connections, and the
person is raised for "one of a number of curious professions. As such,
their offspring would suffer no pain, live a comfortable existence in a
metal shell for several centuries, performing unusual service for
After medication and surgery, general education, and special
training, shell children come of age 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 – in the books, primarily spaceships and cities.
A brainship is able to operate independently but is usually employed
in partnership with one "normal" person called a "brawn" who travels
inside the ship much as a pilot would. A brawn is specially trained to
be a companion and helper, the mobile half of such a partnership. The
nickname is relative: the training is long and intense and the brawns
must be brainy people in fact. Commonly the brain and brawn are paired
at will and, for a fee, a brainship may terminate an assigned
It is very well written and drew me in. Even now, as I went back to look at it again, I reread the first chapter and loved it all over again.