The ''Great Ship'' [[TheVerse universe]] is a series of science fiction novels, novellas, and dozens of short stories, written by Creator/RobertReed

In the distant future, an [[PlanetSpaceship enormous ship larger than many worlds]] is discovered streaking towards the Milky Way at a third the speed of light. The near-immortal, {{TransHuman}} descendants of humanity are the first set foot on the enormous ship, and the first to claim it. The ancient reactors are warmed up, and life is nurtured inside the millions of enormous caverns inside the ship's hull. A burst from the moon-sized engines catapults the ship around a brown dwarf, setting it into the galactic plane, where humanity sells berths on the Great Ship in exchange for worlds, information, and technology. The nearly indestructible hyperfiber hull makes the Great Ship NighInvulnerable, a very desirable feature to the nearly immortal, fantastically rich sentient entities in the galaxy, who desire something safer than a planet to reside on. Technology, colonization rights, pledges of assistance, and information is sold for the right to reside on the Ship.
Tens of thousands of species reside in the Great Ship, some interacting in the enormous cities and ports, others secluding themselves in distant caverns and empty fuel tanks.

The ''Great Ship'' universe is a [[MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness fairly "hard"]], MundaneDogmatic science fiction setting, as it eschews FTL travel and many other staples of standard SpaceOpera

!!!The ''Great Ship'' series :
* Novels:
** ''Marrow'' (2000)
** ''The Well of Stars'' (2004, sequel to ''Marrow'')
** ''The Memory of Sky'' (2014)
* (Notable) Short stories and novellas:
** ''Aeon's Child''
** ''Alone''
** ''Eater-Of-Bone''
** ''Marrow'' [[note]] The novel ''Marrow'' is effectively an expanded and more detailed novel version of the short story[[/note]]
** ''Mere'' (Chapbook, 2004)
** ''The Remoras''
** ''The Greatship'' (Short story collection containing most of the ''Great ship'' stories)

''Marrow'' starts off several thousand years into the ship's voyage as Washen, one of the ship's high-ranking captains, receives a coded message to vanish along with every other important captain - as they are recalled into the core of the ship. Buried under the mass of granite and hyperfiber lies an entire ''planet'' inside the ship's core - [[TitleDrop Marrow]] - which is suspended in the center by enormous electromagnetic barriers. After a SpaceElevator is lowered to the surface and an outpost is established, the electromagnic barriers strengthen to the point where the space elevator is crushed, stranding almost all important captains on the surface of what is essentially a DeathWorld, forcing them to try and carve out a living and await rescue. But Marrow has [[CreepyChild strange effects on their children]], and there's no sign of the rest of the ship even knowing they are missing...

''The Well Of Stars'' takes place several hundred years after the events of ''Marrow'' - the [[spoiler: Wayward mutiny]] has been crushed, but [[PyrrhicVictory at a terrible cost]], crippling the ship as it plunges into an abnormally dense and dark stellar nursery, the home of a species - or [[HiveMind entity]] - that calls itself the Polypond. With no way to avoid the nebula, and with every surrounding civilization either revering the polypond or [[spoiler: no longer existing]], the captains brace for the worst.

Many of the short stories set in the ''Literature/GreatShip'' verse have a mix of action, mystery, with the occasional bit of SliceOfLife for the immortal passengers.

!!Tropes featured in the ''Great Ship'' universe, and in the short stories:

* AerithAndBob: Some characters - primarily the older ones - have relatively normal names, such as [[TimeAbyss Quee Lee]]. Younger characters have odder names, such as Washen. The youngest have especially odd names, such as "Promise" or "Till"
* AndIMustScream: ''Mere'' starts with a child being kept barely alive (yet full conscious) through a 10,000 year voyage - most of which was spent screaming in pain and from insanity.
* AlienBlood: Humanity has very dark, almost black blood. Orleans, a Remora, has black blood with the consistency of ketchup.
* AlternateUniverse: Hyperfiber is so strong because it spreads any impact or heat damage across thousands of dimensions. In a more straight example, the Tila from ''Mere'' have quantum structures in their brain that causes an "aura" around objects they see - which they interpret as glimpses of thousands of alternate realities.
* {{Antimatter}}: Antimatter is a popular choice for ship propulsion, as ships using it need only very small amounts to accelerate extremely fast; Mere's scout ship in ''The Well of Stars'' uses a chunk of anti-iron slightly large than a thimble as propulsion. [[spoiler: Marrow's containment fields are powered by a massive matter/anti-matter reactor buried in the core of the planet]]
* AppliedPhlebotinum: Hyperfiber, an insanely strong metal that's used on pretty much every starship in existence. The Great Ship itself is nigh-invincible thanks to being absolutely ''slathered'' in the stuff.
* ApocalypseHow: ''Mere'' ends with [[spoiler: a binary star collapsing in on itself, wiping out all life in the system.]]
* AscendedExtra: [[spoiler: The !eech, which supposedly committed mass suicide in ''Marrow,'' return in ''The Well of Stars'' and are implied to be the Bleak.]]
* AuraVision: The Tila in ''Mere'' see faint auras around objects.
* AutoDoc: Autodocs are primarily used for repairing mutated genes, rather than blunt trauma usually seen in other stories.
* {{BFS}}: Quite possibly the largest one ever portrayed in fiction. At the climax of ''The Well of Stars,'' [[spoiler: the Polypond attempts to break out what lies at the core of Marrow by boring through the entire Greatship with a hyperfiber blade with black holes around its rim.]] This device was also previously used to break down most of the planets that used to exist in the Well.
* BigDumbObject: The Great Ship. it is a starship the size of Jupiter, made of the highest grade [[MadeOfIron hyperfiber]]. Discovered streaking towards the Milky Way at a third the speed of light by a human built probe, its origin is unknown (the area behind it is the emptiest part of the universe), it carries an ''entire world'' inside it, and it has tens of millions of caverns and fusion reactors all there to make the interior livable for almost any species. It may be as [[RagnarokProofing old as the universe]], and one character suggested that it ''[[GeniusLoci created]]'' the universe, or functions as a control center for it - the visible universe simply being another layer to the ship's hull.
* BinarySuns: The Tila's solar system in ''Mere'' has two stars in decaying orbits around each other.
* BizarreAlienBiology: Harum-sacrums have two mouths: one for breathing and talking, one for eating.
* BlobMonster: [[spoiler: The polypond is essentially a macro-scale version of one, being able to cover the entire surface of the Great Ship and having different feelers, sensors and appendages throughout its body.]]
* BodyHorror: Remoras are ''extremely'' disturbing. One of them is described as having photosensitive hairs in the pits of their eye sockets instead of regular eyes.
* BrainComputerInterface: Keyboards and such are almost never seen, as everything is done wirelessly
* BrainUploading: Almost all humans depicted have ceramic, artificial brains, which are nearly indestructible.
* CasualInterstellarTravel: Averted. While it's not hard to get around, it's ''extremely'' dangerous - when you're moving at a significant percent of the speed of light, a few stray atoms of hydrogen can rip through your hyperfiber shield and annihilate your ship instantly; the dangers of interstellar travel is what makes the Great Ship such a popular destination, as the shallowest habitat in the Ship are buried under several kilometers of hyperfiber.
* CerebusSyndrome: The whimsical first part of ''The Memory of Sky'' when Diamond is a child gives way to the darker second and even darker third part when Diamond is an adult. In an interview, Reed stated that the first part was originally conceived as a sort of [[YoungAdultLiterature young adult novel]] before being reworked.
* CliffHanger: ''The Well of Stars'' ends with [[spoiler: the polypond having bored into the Greatship down to Marrow, only to be foiled at the last second by the !eech, AKA The Bleak. Taking control of the ship, they twist it around and succeed in destroying the hyperfiber blade, which resulted in the Greatship being cut in half into two hemispheres.]] This book was released in 2002 and there's been no announcement of direct sequel yet, so we have no idea how ''anyone'' turned out after that.
* CoolStarShip: [[http://i.imgur.com/ll7Dd.jpg The Great Ship]].
* CranialProcessingUnit: Averted. AIs in robotic bodies keep their "brain" in the chest.
* CyborgHelmsman: The Master Captain. While she still looks fairly human, she is [[LargeAndInCharge far larger than a regular human]] to help disperse heat, and her skin is jam packed with computers, AI assistants, and communication systems to interface with the [[StarshipLuxurious Great Ship]]
* DeathWorld: Marrow is a small world located inside the Ship's core. The planet is periodically allowed to expand and contract via massive magnetic fields, which combined with a [[spoiler: matter/anti-matter reactor inside the planet]] makes the planet have ''massive'' eruptions and huge lava flows. The life on the planet is adapted to breed rapidly and thrives off eruptions. The air is tainted with heavy metals, and the planet is surrounded by massive magnetic fields which disrupt normal thought, causing anyone passing through them to go temporarily insane.
* DeathFakedForYou: [[spoiler: The !eech]]
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler: The polypond]] proves to be one in the end. It's also suspected that whatever is [[spoiler: imprisoned at the heart of Marrow]] might qualify, but no one has learned the exact nature of it yet.
* ElectronicEyes: Mere gets these in ''Mere'', to [[AuraVision see the world in a way similar to the Tila]].
* EnergyBeings: It's proposed in ''Marrow'' that this might be what the Builders really were. It's theorized that, in a younger universe, they may have emerged and created the Greatship without using physical bodies, which might explain why there wasn't a single shred of DNA, dead cells or any other sign of life on the Greatship until humanity came aboard.
* EternalEnglish: English appears to have died out, but whatever has replaced it seems to be very static, courtesy of pretty much every speaker being effectively immortal. The only language drift would be caused by isolation due to all forms of travel and communication being slower-than-light.
* EyeScream: Mere in ''Mere'' carves out her ''own eyes'' with a knife.
* FantasticRacism: The Captains have a pretty elitist view of themselves and often express resentment and bigotry towards the many alien and transhuman races who live on the Great Ship.
* FasterThanLightTravel: Averted; FTL is completely impossible.
* FauxAffablyEvil: [[spoiler: The Polypond]].
* FlingALightIntoTheFuture: The end of ''Mere'' has the Tila launching Mere (in a salvaged wreck) and their entire history and art, towards the Great Ship.
* GeniusLoci: The Great Ship has a "voice" spaced out at the beginning of some chapters in ''Marrow'' and ''The Well of Stars''. However, it is never shown to interact with the passengers, [[spoiler: except for Alone]].
** Gaians are entities that are effectively entire ecosystems - one Gaian covers an entire planet. Some are sentient, others are not.
* GoalOrientedEvolution: Remoras direct their mutations to be useful.
* GodzillaThreshold: When the [[spoiler: Polypond attacks]] in ''The Well Of Stars'', the crew decides to activate the ship's engines. ''All'' of the engines, in an attempt to flee as fast as possible.
* GoMadFromTheIsolation: Mere spent ten thousand years in complete isolation inside a barely functioning ship. She is ''thoroughly'' insane when the ship crash lands on the Tila's planet.
* HealingFactor: Humans and some other species have artificial "emergency genes", which will re-purpose matter in their body to heal wounds. The genes will keep on working until the only thing left is the brain - keep chopping off legs and arms and the genes will start re-purposing largely unneeded organs to regrow them. If deprived of food or water, the body will mummify itself.
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler: Mere convinces one of the polypond's worlds to relate to her enough to reveal that it plans to crack apart the Greatship with a blade made of hyperfiber and black holes in order to free what's beneath Marrow.]] It tells her that, for what it's worth, it's sorry about everything.
* HollowWorld: The Great Ship, to an extent. It's the size of Jupiter, and full of billions of passageways and caverns. Inside the ship's hollow core is an entire world suspended by energy barriers.
* HumansAreSpecial: While humanity is not particularly special normally, they control the Great Ship, making them the richest and most knowledgeable species in the galaxy.
* HumanSubspecies: The Remoras, which are the descendants of the crews sent to repair the hull of the Great Ship. They've been twisted by the hard radiation of empty space, and they actively cultivate their mutations.
* JerkAss: Pamir.
%%* ImmortalityBeginsAtTwenty
* InterspeciesRomance: Considering that everyone is immortal they uh, ''experiment'' quite a lot.
* InTheFutureHumansWillBeOneRace: The only character described as having a specific set of racial features is Quee Lee - who is the only character from old Earth.
* LargeAndInCharge: The Master captain. Due to a huge amount of implants, she is packed with different methods of dissipating the implants' heat - which causes her to be very large.
* LostColony: In ''Eater-Of-Bone'', a colony ship was catastrophically damaged and flung off of its trajectory, sending it towards one of the lone stars at the periphery of the Milky Way. The [[HealingFactor nigh-immortal]] TransHuman colonists are forced to settle on a world which is extremely metal-poor (particularly in salts and iron), making [[LostTechnology any kind of machinery precious beyond belief]] and every drop of blood lost a tragedy. One character laments that there's metal in the world, but so far below the ground that it is unreachable to the damaged machinery of the starship. The colonists cooperated with each other for a short time, but the strains of resource shortages fractured them into dozens of small groups, who often fight each other for resources. [[ImAHumanitarian "Eater-of-bone" isn't meaningless]], either, [[HumanResources because even bone and marrow hold the metals required for metabolism]].
%%* LivingForeverIsAwesome
* MeaningfulName: Marrow, the site of the Great Ship's [[spoiler: antimatter reactor, and a possible prison for the Bleak.]]
--> '''The Master''': "Marrow. It's a very old word. It means 'where the blood is born'"
* MeatMoss: Follownig the Polypond war, the Greatship is covered in a living sea.
* MechanicalLifeforms: Numerous types of [=AIs=] reside on the ship, who are totally independent of other species - though they are still technically artificial creations.
* TheMilkyWayIsTheOnlyWay: No known species have ventured (far) out of the Milky Way due to the lack of FasterThanLightTravel or communications despite almost every interstellar species having become nigh-immortal {{Trans Human}}s. The [[PlanetSpaceship Great Ship]] was discovered streaking towards the the Milky Way - at a significant fraction of the speed of light - from an almost completely empty section of the sky, and was completely covered in impact craters from a steady stream of collisions from its billion year long flight. However, at the climax of ''The Well of Stars'', it is [[spoiler: revealed that a ship has been chasing the Great Ship across the universe; when they seize control after the Polypond war, they activate the ship's [[ReactionlessDrive true engines]] and begin the flight back into intergalactic space with the ship's passengers still on board]]
* MisappliedPhlebotinum: Way averted. Hyperfiber is used for just about everything that it can be used for.
* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness: The Great Ship series follows almost all known laws of physics - the one exception is hyperfiber, which gains its strength from sharing energy across thousands of alternate realities; though it may not be entirely wrong, as some scientists propose that gravity is so weak because it shares its "impact" across multiple universal planes.
* TheMutiny: [[spoiler: Miocene and Till]]. Mostly bloodless, until Pamir and the Remoras fight back to restore the ship to the original owners.
* TheNeedless: Humans rarely need to eat, and do it mostly for pleasure.
* NeuralImplanting: Nexuses, which are implanted into one's body (or in say, a house), and mentally accessed for information or skills when needed.
* NiceHat: Captains have reflective, mirror-like peaked caps.
* NoNameGiven: The Master captain. Her name is said a grand total of [[spoiler: twice - Liza]].
* NoOSHACompliance: Since everyone is effectively immortal, most safety equipment is non-existent unless it could damage the brain. Some ships will accelerate at a hundred g's, crushing the bones of the pilot into dust, then the pilot's emergency genes will kick in to mend the bones.
* ProHumanTranshuman: Despite most of the characters being immortal transhumans that can survive being dipped in lava, they still consider the Remoras and the SpaceAmish humans that [[WeAreAsMayflies live a mere century]] to be their brethren.
* OnlyOneName: Some of the younger human characters have only one name, such as "Promse" or "Dream". Most characters do have full names, though rarely ever said because they are implied to be ''enormous''.
* OrionDrive: If a ship isn't powered by a fusion rocket or an antimatter rocket, it uses an Orion Drive (called a "bomb drive" in the stories), loaded with nuclear bombs.
* PlanetSpaceship: The Great Ship itself is larger than Jupiter. The interior of the ship has [[StarshipLuxurious hundreds of thousands of enormous caverns which are inhabited by the passengers]]. The ship has fourteen moon-sized adjustable fusion engines on one end.
* RacialRemnant: Mere is the only survivor of the Tilan stellar collapse. She left their solar system with the combined knowledge of their civilization.
* RagnarokProofing: The Great Ship spent at least several hundred million years drifting towards the Milky Way, but it only sustained superficial damage to it exterior shell. All the original technology in it still functions flawlessly. The [[spoiler: Matter-antimatter reactor inside Marrow]] still functions after billions of years.
* ReactionlessDrive: [[spoiler: The Great Ship's true propulsion is this - only discovered at the end of ''The Well of Stars''.]]
* SapientCetaceans: Whale-like aliens are encoutnered in ''The Well of Stars'', who talk via radio wave bursts and worship a nearby gas giant.
* ScavengerWorld: ''Hatch'' takes place after the [[spoiler: Polypond War]], with several million people trapped on the rim of one of the ship's nozzles. The refugees harvest the [[spoiler: Polypond's corpse]] for organic material and bits of technology - however, many of the entity's subsystems are still functional, causing the harvesting to be extremely dangerous - if a raider uses a ship slightly too big or creates too much thrust, laser cannons will blast it out of the sky.
* [[SciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfDistance Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Distance]]: Averted. The Great Ship will take hundreds of thousands of years to complete one circle around the Milky Way. Travel is extremely slow - a small ship spends 900 years accelerating to near lightspeed in order to reach the Great Ship.
* [[SciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfTime SciFi Writers Have No Sense of Time]]: Averted with the Great Ship; when it was discovered, the leading face of the hull was battered and scarred from being exposed to intergalatic dust for billions of years. The rocky core of the Great Ship is noted to have been scrubbed of ''any'' radioactive elements that would decay, as it would compromise the integrity of the ship as the elements decayed over millions of years, heating up the core and making it less dense.
* SlidingScaleOfLibertarianismAndAuthoritarianism: There is very little limits on what one can do on the Great Ship, provided it doesn't affect other passengers and you pay your ship taxes.
* SlidingScaleOfRobotIntelligence: Most AIs are at human level or above - even the houses and ships.
* SmallNameBigEgo: The Master and the Captains have some pretty big, undeserved egos on them. They constantly claim that the ship is theirs (which is technically true but only because a.) humans were lucky enough to find it first and b.) they violently attacked or rebuked most of the other races trying to board the ship before they started selling space) and believe that they're the only thing keeping it functional. It should be noted that the Master and Captains aren't politicians or rulers of any sort; most of them are the team of scientists who originally explored the Great Ship after it's discovery.
** In one notable moment Washen makes the egotistical claim that without the captains society on the Ship would fall apart (which Pamir even notes is bullshit) only for her to privately admit a few pages later that shipboard ''extinctions'' occur pretty often just beneath the Captains' noses.
* SocietyOfImmortals: 99% of humanity is immortal.
* SpaceAmish: Some humans forgo the ceramic brain and most, if not all, of the [[HealingFactor emergency genes]], instead living short lives.
* SpaceElevator: Marrow is connected to the rest of the Great Ship by a human-built space elevator. When the elevator is crushed and later rebuilt, it's used as an [[spoiler: invasion point by the Wayward mutiny]]
* StarfishAliens: Almost all of the inhabitants of the Great Ship. It's notable when the aliens ''are not'' StarfishAliens
* StarshipLuxurious: The Great Ship. Thousands of luxurious canyons, beaches, ''oceans'' are among the ''natural formations'' inside the Jupiter sized ship. In terms of space, the ''prisoners'' are guaranteed at least 10,000 cubic meters of personal space. Passengers can claim rooms larger than Manhattan very easily.
* StoneWall: The Great Ship. After humanity claimed the derelict, whole swarms of alien ships started showing up to try and capture it. The humans on-board simply closed the hyperfiber airlocks on the star ports and waited until the attackers ran out of fuel or ammunition.
* {{Transhuman}}: Almost all seen human characters have huge amounts of genetic modifications and implants. Emergency genes are artificial genes that all humans have, which can do some ''extreme'' modifications to the body in order to preserve the brain.
* TimeAbyss: Practically all the main characters of ''Marrow'' are at ''least'' several hundred thousand years old. Qeng Lee, a minor character, was born on ''Earth'', before the immortality treatments.
** Alone, in the short story ''Alone'', is a self-aware robot that had crawled on the Great Ship's hull for billions of years, long before it reached the Milky Way. The entity is so old that it doesn't even know how old it is, what powers it, or who created it.
* UltimateLifeForm: [[spoiler: The polypond is a single biological consisting of liquids spreads across a multitude of engineered planets throughout a nebula. It proves to be ''more than a match'' for the Greatship, which is larger than Jupiter and has all of the finest weapons, equipment and crew in the galaxy at its disposal.]]
* TheUnReveal: It's revealed in ''The Well of Stars'' that a single member of the Waywards got to see what was imprisoned beneath Marrow, but it's never revealed what they saw.
* WasOnceAMan: [[spoiler: The polypond]]
* WeaponizedExhaust: Used in ''Aeons Child'' - a starship fusion engine was brought into the ship to use as a last ditch weapon to purge a cavern of a [[GeniusLoci Gaian]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist: [[spoiler: The Polypond in ''The Well of Stars'' wants to destroy to open up Marrow and free what's inside, but not out of malice. It genuinely believes that the process of creating the universe was never finished and that freeing Marrow's prisoner or prisoners will complete it.]]
* WeWillHavePerfectHealthInTheFuture: The emergency genes and autodocs have effectively wiped out all diseases
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: ''The Well of Stars'' shows that one of the Greatship's more secluded caverns holds an order of monks that voluntarily refuse immortality treatments so that they can learn the answer the great mystery of what lies beyond death for themselves.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: Defied with [[spoiler: the polypond]]. Another being that was her "sister" of sorts in the sense that [[spoiler: they were born of the same species on the same planet before the being that became the polypond was ejected into deep space to eventually reach the dark nebula]] tells her that, rather than pitying her, she would do the same thing to her again and would send her ''into the sun'' instead this time around.
* WorthlessYellowRocks: Diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald are all popular ''building materials''. Diamond is used in place of glass on almost everything, and the others are just pretty to look at but not particularly valuable.