I read this book about 13-Jun-2004. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1992. This note was last modified Tuesday, 15-Jun-2004 23:13:31 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Actually the second novel in an omnibus volume titled Brain Ships, containing this and The Ship Who Searched. This novel is a collaboration between Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball, set in one of Anne's universes. Other publication complexities are discussed over there.
A newly-commissioned brainship gets a passenger transportation assignment, without a brawn, and orders to pick up a stranded brawn and bring him back. She's upset at being pushed into a partnership she didn't choose, but can't deny her duty to make the pickup. And her father didn't come to her graduation; perhaps by not winning the special prize she's shown herself to be unworthy? (Graduation had to be restructured because of how many of the other prizes she DID win.)
Meanwhile, the passengers are a bunch of spoiled "High Families" kids getting sent off to bad assignments because they've screwed up. They don't realize she's a brainship (they never asked, and managed to offend her instantly). So she listens to all their planning, and gets a map to most of the major crime in the sector for the next 5 years.
She kinda likes the brawn, except he's such a tightass about regulations and rules and honor. So she can't use the information she got listening to the kids, can't even admit to it. But she gets involved in investigations, undercover work, and various things, and eventually brings all the kids criminal plans (and the one kid who turned out to do very good work, saving an intelligent species, and only breaking a few laws along the way). And acquires a new brawn, and realizes she's outgrown the tightass.
This isn't nearly as moving as the first one. Has more of an action-adventure plot, but also more holes in it. I don't really believe a galaxy dependent on chips from one plant run on a prison planet, for example. And I don't believe the designs being as stable as they say they are, either.