Outline of Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey

This is an Outline, not a serious review or critique, meant for parody and humor purposes only.

Other Outlines can be found here

The Crystal Singer Omnibus

Crystal Singer is a great book when you’re fifteen and/or know nothing about music. (Why a writer who supposedly does have voice training would hold something like perfect pitch in such high universal regard is mystery to me, for instance. Also, it’s kind of weird that there’s apparently no “popular” genres a of music in The Future–just classical. Instead of recommending non-classical music careers, the maestro immediately jumps to things like “crystal tuning.”) It doesn’t really stand the test of time in a lot of ways, but it does manage to be entertaining…if you like the main character, which I don’t all that much. Much like the irritating burr in her voice, I find her to be a bit annoying.

In which there are Divas.

KILLASHANDRA: I worked my ass off and now you tell me I’VE NO VOICE?!

PROFESSOR: No, no, you definitely have a voice (in fact, you’ve almost burst my ear drums just now), you just aren’t suited for leading roles because of that annoying burr in your voice in the upper register!


FX: *burrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

PROFESSOR: Now see, that’s exactly what I mean.

KILLASHANDRA: *Angst! I am full of Woe!* My entire life was invested in music! Oh, whatever shall I do!

READER: …Have you thought of drama? Or maybe becoming a pop music diva? Cause you know, you definitely got the chops.

KILLASHANDRA: My life is meaningless without music! My family will be mean to me! I am a failure at life–WOE IS ME!!


KILLASHANDRA: I know– I- I’ll run away from home! That will show everyone! *Packs her bags and heads to the spaceport.*

READER: Show them what? That you’re twelve?

KILLASHANDRA: Never mind that, I have a date with DESTINY!!

*Destiny arrives in the form of a Crystal Singer, and a shuttle with a crappy engine*

CARRICK: *Is a rockstar!* (Well, he mines rocks, anyway…)

KILLASHANDRA: *Is a groupie* Teehee, I’m so daring, having a whirlwind affair with a complete stranger!

READER: Um, yeah. You got your groove back. Woo.

CARRICK: *Is a part time recruiter for the Heptite Guild of Ballybran, which mines crystals used for various technological applications.*

NEW MUTANT FAN CHILD: =D Ballybran?! That’s where Lila Cheney  got the crystal figurine for Sam’s Mom!

READER: *Facepalm.* No, no it isn’t

KILLASHANDRA: *Is enchanted by the idea of becoming a Crystal Singer.*

CARRICK: *Fails to mention the catch.*

*Whirlwind partying, music student gone wild!*

CARRICK: *Has a mysterious medical condition that involves CONVULSIONS* It’s been lovely dear, but I must be going back to Ballybran. *Has more convulsions*

KILLASHANDRA: *Does not feel foreboding, and continues to want to be a Crystal Singer.*

PROFESSOR: *with nice young men in their clean white coats* I am here to rescue you from the evil clutches of the evil mutant!


PROFESSOR: No, for reals, I didn’t realize how distraught you’d be at being told you had no future as a soloist!

KILLASHANDRA: Even though I’m acting in an insane and irrational fashion, that’s no reason to try to have me committed!!

READER: Actually, that sound like a pretty good reason to me.

KILLASHANDRA: No one’s talking to you! Shut up!

*CARRICK collapses due to the faulty shuttle engine and there is Drama.*

PROFESSOR: *Is a drama whore.* Do you see? If you become a Crystal Singer, something like that will happen. You’ll lose your memory and eventually your life!!

KILLASHANDRA: Good! *Gets the last word, and escorts poor catatonic Carrick back to Ballybran!*

*The next few pages feature Ominous Warnings about the Dangers of Ballybran and the Strangeness of it’s Inhabitants!*

KILLASHANDRA: *Ignores! Arrives at Shankill moon base!*

LANZECKI: *is the Master of the Heptite Guild* Thanks for escorting Carrick, here’s some money and an all expenses paid trip to anywhere that’s not here.

KILLASHANDRA: *Will not be denied entry! Looks up all the particulars and asks Questions. But possibly not the right ones.*

READER: One of the particulars is that only specific “types” of human are allowed to apply, and no mutants are allowed at all, which is one of the reasons why Lilah Cheney could not have gone to Ballybran.

NEW MUTANT FAN CHILD: Dude, that’s racist!

READER: Actually, it’s more eugenic–breeding and bloodlines are pretty much a recurring theme with this writer– but kinda yeah.

GUILD REP: *Say a lot without actually saying anything.*

KILLASHANDRA: *Is still determined to become a Crystal Singer and become rich and famous!*

EVERYONE: *A veritable chorus of Ominous Warning*


*Killashandra is accepted along with a handful of other applicants.*

YODA TUKOLOM: Now here you are, and full disclosure you shall have!

*A Crystal Singer named BORELLA explains all the dangers of the planet, including the reason why very few people are allowed to live there.*

CANDIDATES: Wait, we’re supposed to let ourselves get infected with a symbiont that will either kill us or adapt us to survive on the planet?


CANDIDATES: And we might not get the specific mutation that will guarantee we become Crystal Singers?!

GUILD REPS: Wow, you’re surprisingly astute!


GUILD REPS: Mwah-hahahahahahah.


*One by one the Candidates become infected by the symbiont and are carted off to the hospital. Except of course for KILLASHANDRA.*

KILLASHANDRA: Whee, what a wonderful day, I feel so happy and energetic and wow, all the colors are so bright and the world is so shiny!!

GUILD REPS: *…* Hospital. Now.

KILLASHANDRA: But I don’t feel sick!


KILLASHANDRA: But–*Sigh! Goes to the hospital.*

GUILD DOC: …You had a “Milekey” Transition. *Jealous! Annoyed!*

KILLASHANDRA: What does that mean?

GUILD DOC: It means you got the symbiont without any side effects or problems.

KILLASHANDRA: Whee! I knew I was special!


*KILLASHANDRA gets training in how to become a Crystal Singer and discovers something she should have figured out all ready: Most Crystal Singers tend to be egocentric senile pricks due to memory loss and memory loss induced paranoia. As a result, Crystal Singers are just plain buckets of crazy.*

CATTY READER: So, Killa-chan should fit right in!

KILLASHANDRA: AUGH, this is hard work! Also, my teacher is made of CRAZY.

LANZECKI: Well, yes, there is in fact a reason why Crystal Singers are paid so well.


*KILLASHANDRA becomes very successful at Crystal Singing! She also has an affair with LANZECKI and neglects to record her memories to save her from the memory loss crazy, which will become a Tragic Plot Point later!!*

LANZECKI: Killa–are you ready for the role of a lifetime?


LANZECKI: Yes, you get to be a SPOKES MODEL for the Heptite Guild!

KILLASHANDRA: Modeling–I’ve never thought of modeling before…

LANZECKI: We need you to show off and be a Diva to impress the clients who are dubious about our product! Plus, it’ll get you off planet to avoid the Mach storms!

KILLASHANDRA: *A Star is born!!*

*Not the end, because there are two sequels.*


Filed under Meta, Outlined

7 responses to “Outline of Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey

  1. WCG

    Heh, heh. I love this line: "It doesn’t really stand the test of time in a lot of ways, but it does manage to be entertaining…if you like the main character, which I don’t all that much."Anne McCaffrey can be entertaining, but this is one series I skipped. It just never appealed to me. Thanks to your review, I guess I now know that was the right decision. Nice job!

  2. Heh. Actually, I did like some of this when I was a kid–but I have a slight preference for the sequel Killashandra, but I despise and loathe Crystal Line.

  3. I remember this one. Killashandra does tend to come across to me as a person who prefers being admired to being liked, and as a result I sort of tolerate her. I like the author's world-building in the series a lot better than her characterization (only Enthnor (sp?) the Sorter really impressed himself on me as a character, and him only as a sort of well-done tertiary character), although as someone who knows very little, really, about music, I'm sure there's a lot wrong with it.I remember the first few (dozen) times I saw it in the bookstore I passed it over 'cause of the misleading summary. With no indication that she was *mining* crystal, my reaction was "WTF? You don't need a crystal to sing." The concept of a book based on the idea that people used crystals to augment their voices for performance just didn't meet the plausible deniability standpoint for me.That said, now that I hear there's a third book, I'm probably gonna get it.

  4. The bad plot summary was why it took me a while to read it as well.

  5. the book was ok although it's rather boring now. when i was 12 and read it i thought it was decent if a bit lacking in background but now i'd probably just put it back on the shelf after finding another book. that's not to say mrs mcCaffey isn't a good writer but the dragon riders of pern was a much better series that showcases her ideas better.

  6. "World building" is something of an issue with this writer. As much as I liked the Dragonriders series, I found a great deal to flail about in this and other of her works.

  7. I remember reading this when I was at the height of my Mercedes Lackey phase, and even then I didn't care for it. Granted the character had a sudden sharp disappointed come out of the blue (I wanted to strangle her vocal teacher) but like you said, 12-year-old much?

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