Sentient Ships

Sentient Ship
Image from copyright Kentsuku CG World used with permission

A sentient ship is distinguished from a neumann by its lack of onboard replication ability, from a vec or bot by having a spaceship body, and from aioid pilots by being integral to the ship (they do not just control the ship; they are the ship). Sentient ships serve an important purpose in binding civilization together with trade, freight, courier, and passenger transport. Most love their work and are very distressed if separated from it. Because of their turingrade or superturingrade intelligence, they are sometimes rejected in favor of more predictable and controllable expert systems, but many polities and corporations value their more personal and flexible services. The number of sentient ships in the galaxy is believed to number ten billion.

Some sentient ships have withdrawn from mainstream Terragen culture and live as Backgrounders among the cold dark icy bodies between the stars. Others (such as the Sagittarius Preservers) have set off on voyages of exploration of their own beyond the edges of the Terragen Sphere; few these return though some send back messages.

  • AI, ai  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Etymologically, Artificial Intelligence, although the original use of the term "artificial" has long been meaningless in this context. Broadly speaking, "AI" means any non-organic sentient being, although it is most often applied to those of SI:1 or greater (in contrast to aioids). When spelt in lower case the term can refer either to any subsingularity aioid as well.
  • Artificials  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    generic term for any sophont of a non-biological nature [noun]
  • Diademata, The  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Halo drive Colony ship, launched from Corona in 9255.
  • En'en Suifu and Tattoi Jueru  - Text by Chris Shaeffer
    Two famous bioships in the service of the Zoeific Biopolity.
  • Freegems  - Text by Tony Jones
    Former Diamond Belt sophont starship clade.
  • Futurological Congress, The (Civilisation Ship)  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A civilisation ship with an unusual quest.
  • Juggernaut Class  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; additions by Steve Bowers
    Excluding the Keterist battle-moons (which are more ISO than Capital Ship), these are the largest warships ever built in Terragen history. The approach of a Juggernaut Class vessel is an awesome sight: a cylinder some 280 kilometres in length and twenty five kilometres in diameter, accompanied by a swarm of giant autowars that are dwarfed to apparent mote-size by their parent vessel.
  • Leviathan Class  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    These MPA capital ships were the largest warships of the Version War, and the largest vessels to see combat in the Inner Sphere.
  • Linelayer  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Specialised spacecraft used to transport wormhole mouths to distant locations
  • M-Life - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Machinic non-biological life as seen in neumanns, hylonanecologies, and other inorganic organisms or ecologies. In practise M-life, B-life and A-life tend to merge, especially because of the ubiquity of biotech and bionanotech.
  • Mother of Machines  - Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
    Self-emergent autowar clade, recently embarked on migration to the galactic core.
  • Order of St. Christopher - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Solarist starship religious order, founded in 5378 by Nos D388. The members are all starships (mainly relativist craft), serving the Divine Order by transporting beings, equipment and especially wormholes to where they are needed. During the Version War the ships of the order were involved in refugee transports, linelaying and scouting, their efforts gaining them a formal blessing of divine gratitude from H. H. the God Emperor. The order has since then largely been active in the Perseus rift and in the Amalgamation effort.
  • Reason for Diplomacy  - Text by Chris Shaeffer
    Ascension Class warship: Reason for Diplomacy.
  • Sagittarius Preservers, The  - Text by Liam Jones
    A clade of intelligent mobile habitats dedicated to preserving and disseminating a wide variety of lifeforms.
  • Ship Mind, Shipmind - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The ai (or in some cases an uploaded biont or postbiont) that controls a ship. Shipminds require special training, programming, and customization. Often the Mind that runs the drive is the most expensive component in any ship, more so than the drive and its components.
  • Ship Mind, Transplanting - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Transferring a ship mind from one ship to another. Just as with advanced drives and other components, minds are typically designed to be fairly interchangeable, and may be moved from ship to ship, especially if e is agreeable and feels comfortable in the new vessel. Care must be taken however, because while the majority of transplants (especially of more adaptable ship minds) go well, there have been instances where a transplanted ship mind has had a mental breakdown (anything from mild somatic disjunction to full-blown catatonia).
  • Starhand  - Text by Tony Jones
    A clade of space-going vecs descended from space construction robots.
  • Starlark, The  - Text by Steve Bowers
    One of a numerous class of ships built after the Great Expulsion, as the population of Earth sought refuge in the worlds and habitats of the Solar System and among the stars.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev, with additions by John B, Stephen Inniss, Todd Drashner

Initially published on 14 August 2001.