"The Ship Who ..." is a science fiction series created by AnneMcCaffrey, consisting of short stories and novels.

In TheFuture, infants with severe birth defects are placed in self-contained life-support shells in which they will spend their entire lives, and are trained to become the "brain" of a starship (and later, space station, megacity, etc.), into which they will be connected in such a way that the facility is effectively their body. Most "brains" are then partnered with humans, dubbed "brawns", who act as representative and counterpart, going where the brains cannot.

[=McCaffrey=] first visited the setting in a series of short stories written in the 1960s, collected in ''The Ship Who Sang'' in 1969.

The setting was revived in the 1990s by Creator/BaenBooks for a series of co-written novels: ''[=PartnerShip=]'' (1992, with Margaret Ball), ''The Ship Who Searched'' (1992, with Creator/MercedesLackey), ''The City Who Fought'' (1993, with Creator/SMStirling), and ''The Ship Who Won'' (1994, with Jody Lynn Nye). These were followed by ''The Ship Errant'' (1996, a direct sequel to ''The Ship Who Won'', by Jody Lynn Nye solo) and ''The Ship Avenged'' (1997, a direct sequel to ''The City Who Fought'', by S. M. Stirling solo).

[=McCaffrey=] also wrote two more short stories in the "ship who sang" sequence after long gaps ("Honeymoon", 1977, and "The Ship That Returned", 1999), and "brainships" have made occasional cameos in her other science fiction series, including the ''Crystal Singer'' series.

!!This series provides examples of:

* ArtificialLimbs: One of the characters in ''The Ship Who Searched'' is a research scientist whose field is prosthetic limbs.
* BrainsAndBrawn: In name if not in spirit; each "brainship" is assigned a "brawn" who acts as companion, ambassador and muscle for the immobile ship. Averted because brawns are also required to be pretty smart.
* CantHaveSexEver: A problem for any brain and brawn pair who fall in love, which is one reason the administrators try to avoid it happening. In ''The Ship Who Searched'', [[spoiler:the protagonist, after becoming very rich, deals with the problem by commissioning a remote-controlled full-sensory human body]].
* ChildProdigy: Tia of ''The Ship Who Searched''.
** Joat of ''The City Who Fought''.
* CodeName: Gently mocked in ''[=PartnerShip=]''; when Nancia realizes her current brawn is a spy, he says she can call him X-39. When she points out that she already knows his name, he cheerfully agrees; he just thinks it would be fun to be called that.
* ContinuityNod: Helva is featured by just about every sequel at some point, but apart from that:
** ''Partner Ship'' references the "Helva Modification" invented after ''The Ship who Dissembled'' (see GoMadFromTheIsolation below)
** ''The Ship Who Searched'' references the "Nyota Five" incident from ''Partner Ship''
** ''The City Who Fought'' references Moto-Prosthetics from ''The Ship Who Searched''
** ''The Ship Who Won'' recaps the events of ''The City Who Fought'' early on (together with cameos from Simeon and Dr Chaundra), and references the Moto-Prosthetics.
* CoolStarship: Depending on how inherently cool you consider the idea of a brainship. The actual ship body is usually something ordinary and middle-of-the-range; only brains working for military and law enforcement get top-of-the-line ship bodies.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The cover of ''[=PartnerShip=]'' features an astronaut walking next to a female humanoid hologram being projected from a device that floats next to him as he walks away from a spaceship, giving the impression that the brainship of the novel gains the ability to project an image of herself. This never happens. The blurb on the back cover also misidentifies the main character and misses the plot entirely.
* CreatorBreakdown: The first story, in which Helva meets her first brawn, falls in love with him, and [[spoiler: has to watch him die an unnecessary death]] was written while [=McCaffrey=] was grieving for the death of her father.
* CrewOfOne: A brainship appears to have a crew of one (the brawn), if you don't realise it's a brainship. It's also perfectly capable of flying itself with a genuine crew of one (just the shellperson), but they usually don't except in emergencies.
* {{Cyborg}}
* DeathSeeker: Kira, Helva's brawn in ''The Ship Who Killed'', is this due to the death of her husband...causing Helva enormous panic when they unknowingly wind up on a planet where the religion is such that ''everyone'' is one of these.
* DeathWorld: Kolnar, the homeworld of the villains of ''The City Who Fought''.
* DecontaminationChamber: In the research station at the start of ''The Ship Who Searched'', decontamination procedures are required whenever someone comes in through the airlock. Readers are treated to some graphic depictions of what can happen when decontamination procedures prove inadequate or aren't followed properly.
* DepartmentOfChildDisservices: The social worker assigned to the orphan Joat in ''The City Who Fought''.
* DuelingScar: In ''The City Who Fought'', Simeon's onscreen avatar has a dueling scar because he thinks it's cool. Only one other character recognises it.
* ExplosionsInSpace: Used correctly in ''The City Who Fought''; an exploding starship releases enormous quantities of debris which make the immediate environment of the protagonists' space station very dangerous for a period of time.
* FantasticDrug
* FasterThanLightTravel: Very expensive, and you still have to accelerate and decelerate relative to your destination on conventional drives, making the trips less than trivial.
* FutureMusic: In ''The Ship Who Sang''.
* GoMadFromTheIsolation: In one of the short stories, hijackers capture several brainships and remove from each the life-support shell containing the "brain", leaving the shellperson inside unable to see, hear, or otherwise sense anything outside the shell. At least one goes mad before rescue arrives. In direct response to this incident, subsequent shells are designed with integrated audiovisual inputs.
* KillMeNowOrForeverStayYourHand: In one of the short stories, brainship Helva learns that one of the crewpeople at her home spaceport has fallen in love with her. He tells her that he's afraid if she lets him get too close to her, he'll succumb to an urge to crack open her life support unit, killing her, in an attempt to get at the real her (a thing that has happened before in comparable cases). She deliberately eggs him on, confident that she knows him well enough to be sure he won't go through with it. [[spoiler:She's right; he doesn't.]]
* KlingonsLoveShakespeare: Or rather methane-breathing StarfishAliens do.
* MagicFromTechnology: In ''The Ship Who Won''.
* ManInTheMachine
* MindlinkMates: Helva and Niall end up as this in "Honeymoon".
* NamesTheSame: There are two shellpeople named Simeon - one appearing in ''Partner Ship'' and the other in ''The City Who Fought'' (also having a cameo in ''The Ship Who Won''). Both are managers (albeit for different locations) and even their designations are fairly close - VS-895 and SSS-900-C, respectively
* NoConservationOfEnergy: Played with in ''The Ship Who Won''.
* TheNounWhoVerbed: Many of the titles. Helva is also known as "The Ship Who Sings" InUniverse.
* PardonMyKlingon: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in one of the short stories that makes up ''The Ship Who Sang'': one of Helva's brawns curses a hapless functionary off the ship by reciting a particularly vituperative string of syllables -- her grandmother's recipe for paprikash, which she then proceeds to cook and eat.
* ParentalAbandonment: Theoretically, once parents give consent for their babies to become brainships, they have no further contact with them and the kids grow up knowing nothing about their background. Nancia of ''[=PartnerShip=]'' and Tia of ''The Ship Who Searched'' avert this totally, however. Nancia's parents belong to the wealthy and powerful 'High Families' class so they could [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney screw the rules]] setting a precedent for Tia's parents continued involvement in her life. Tia is also a rare case of having become a shellperson in childhood rather than infancy, and thus had several years of normal family bonding before a disease paralyzed her body.
* PatchworkStory: ''The Ship Who Sang''.
* PeopleJars
* ThePlague: In "The Ship Who Mourned".
* PlasmaCannon: Used by the Kolnar pirates in "The City Who Fought", ignite slugs of fissile material.
* RazorFloss: Monofilament wire used as a weapon in ''The City Who Fought''.
* RemoteBody: In ''The Ship Who Searched''.
* ShamefulSourceOfKnowledge: In ''[=PartnerShip=]'', the five {{Royal Brats}} that [[LivingShip Nancia]] ferried to their [[ReassignedToAntarctica remote postings in the Nyota system]] are all planning to use their positions for various kinds of corrupt practices (they even have a bet going; the one who makes the most shady money in five years gets a cut of the others' operations). However, Nancia can't tell anyone about it because she got the information by refusing to introduce herself and letting them think they were aboard a mindless drone, which is considered tantamount to spying.
* SocialDarwinist
** ''The Ship Who Searched'' has a minor character -- Haakon-Fritz -- who fits this. He actually belongs to an organization called the neo-Darwinists.
** The villains of ''The City Who Fought'' are an entire race of these who have grown up in an extremely harsh environment.
* SonOfAWhore: One of the secondary protagonists from ''The City Who Fought'' describes himself as "the son of a pimp and dockside whore."
* SpaceshipGirl
* {{Tagline}}: The tagline for the Baen novels was "The Ship Who Sang is not alone!"
* UnableToCry: For obvious reasons, shellpeople are physically unable to weep, and they occasionally wish they had that release.
* TheUnpronounceable: "Fred" in ''The Ship Who Searched''.
* {{Veganopia}}
* WetwareCPU