Living Ships of Spelljammer

Man-O-War Transparency by Silverblade the Enchanter. Used by permission.

The living ship is nothing new in science fiction.  Also known as bioships, we’ve been exposed to many of them in recent years.  From appearances in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, to Babylon 5, to Farscape, LEXX, Dr. Who, Robotech, and Stargate, as well as a plethora of science fiction games and literature (shades of Starcraft, anyone?) we’ve seen quite a few, and they vary from cybernetic organisms, to animals, to plants, to insects. The first known appearance of a living ship in modern sci-fi literature was in a short story called “Specialist” by Robert Sheckley, which was published in 1953 in Galaxy Magazine.  In this story, different species in different parts of the Universe were supposed to function as different parts of a ship, and humans were intended to function as faster-than-light drives “Pushers.” Perhaps the idea spawned from the human tendency to assign personalities to inanimate objects.  Most of us name our cars or our computers and ascribe certain personality traits to them.  The living ship model fits nicely with the Spelljammer milieu since every ship in the Age of Sail had a name and a personality.  This article will explore some of the living ships particular to the Spelljammer setting and make suggestions to maximize enjoyment of these unique creatures in fantasy space.
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