Giant, self-contained nomadic interstellar spacecraft

Passing Through- worldship
Image from PortalHunter
The worldship Passing Through, a former asteroid colony fitted out with reactionless drive by Yave

Worldships are nomadic interstellar ships, typically moving at speeds of 0.01 to 0.1, c where relativistic effects are unimportant. Although a few late Interplanetary Age worldships were used for colonization (some of these generation ships, and are still en route), and though a few worldships are eccentric life-style choices, or peopled by paranoids and hiders, most are peopled by clades and polities that are happy to live a self-contained existence plying the distances between the stars. The resulting centuries of isolation and genetic drift mean that worldships are almost always home to unique clades and subcultures, and unique species of sophont and subsophont life.

Image from Anders Sandberg
One of the smaller empire ships of the Solar Dominion, merely 8 kilometers long and with 400,000 permanent inhabitants. It is mainly a diplomatic vessel, facilitating cultural exchange and trade in the Perseus Rift and Cygexba border. The biosphere has two different climate zones regulated using advanced chaos control and a subtle utility fog to replicate gravity. Beneath the sea the ship holds 345 bays containing extra housing, smaller crafts, museums, diplomatic mergers and nanofactories.

Image from Todd Drashner
Worldship in flight

Some systems (such as New Brooklyn) regularly send out new worldships to wander the galaxy, or to explore the outer edges of the Terragen Sphere; others are content merely to welcome them on their travels, and exchange goods, information and population with them. A number of systems do not welcome these giant ships and complain of espionage or cultural imperialism.

Twelth Fleet Worldship
Image from Steve Bowers
A worldship from New Brooklyn's twelth fleet
To date the largest worldships are the Civilisation Ships of the CPNC, built jointly by the Negentropy Alliance and the MPA.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 12 December 2001.

Fiction featuring a worldship

Deceleration Phase