Tiamat Bioship
Image from Worldtree
Heavily bioborged/syborged neogenic vessels that employ organic technology for many of their systems. Bioships are either grown partially or entirely using biotechnology or by a close analogue to biological growth: they can be very similar in final composition to other ships but often look distinctively 'organic' in form.

Practically no existing organic carbon-based creature could exist for long in space, apart from the terragen Deinococcus radiodurans and its relatives, equivalent types on a number of other Gaian type worlds, and the microorganisms that are found up to 50 km above the surface of many natural garden worlds. The Terragen versions of these microorganisms were part of the precursors to the biotech that produced the bioships thousands of years after humanity stepped into space- examples of which include:
It is a mistake to think of these bioships as being soft, fleshy constructs however — the 'Soft' Cathedrals and the Biowars for instance had shells of steel, diamondoid and corundumoid to repel bionanotech assault. These shells were grown by the organic craft in the same way that terragen bivalves and brachiopods, and equivalent biota on many other natural garden worlds grow inorganic shells. In the same way organic bioships use advanced biotech and bionanomanipulation to grow internal drive systems and to collect fuel or other energy rich material — even including antimatter or exotic matter.

Soft Cathedral Bioship Allosaurus

Image from Anders Sandberg
Soft Cathedral carrier ship Allosaurus, escaping from the Taung Offensive in 6522. The Allosaurus was transporting a complement of Offensive Terraforming Beings to Taung when the system came under ultratech attack from the Sagittarius Sphere. The ship managed to escape using the OTBs as makeshift sacrifical defense drones, and eventually reached Utte Vais in the Negentropy Alliance after a 340 lightyear journey.

The advantage that the early bioist empires have over the drytech of the day was that the biosystems acted autonomically at a subsentient level; complicated systems could be grown over and over again starting from a basic set of instructions with no conscious input. This is the reason that feral Autowars can survive in asteroid belts such as those on the Keter borderlands without any higher intelligence to direct their construction.

Many hylotech manufacturing systems mimic biological systems so well that by since the eleventh millennium the difference between biological growth and non biological matter compilation is practically non-existent. In most cases the remaining Bioist empires are biological in name only, incorporating any available technology as long as biological systems can be utilised to grow the necessary components — organically grown solar sails and reactionless drive being common in the Biopolity.

Bioships in the current era most often use a matter/antimatter reaction power source or beamed power, but may have in some cases conversion-drive or even a reactionless drive, especially if the bioship is the product of high transapient technology.

Bioships may also have other advanced technology incorporated into their structure, such as an electrodynamic fluid circulatory systems and/or a chemical or air-breathing ramjet for atmospheric flight.

Image from Michael Tan (copyright)

Some species of bioship, including many biowars, are capable of reproducing entirely from seed or by viviparous birth, and can breed independently among asteroid belts, planetary ring systems or oort clouds. Some feral biowars have only limited artificial intelligence systems and a breeding population of such creatures can become dangerous on occasion.

Image from Steve Bowers
A Biowar designed by the Tapestry of Mold, near Macrystis
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers and M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 02 February 2001.

Tiamat bioship added August 2023