A brainship is a concept of an interstellar starship. A brainship is made by inserting the disembodied brain and nervous system of a human being into a life-support system, and connecting it surgically to a series of computers via delicate synaptic connections (a Brain-computer interface.) The brain "feels" the ship (or any other connected peripherals) as part of its own body. Flying, taking off, landing, and controlling all the other features of the ship are as natural as moving, breathing and talking are to an ordinary human. Being wired into a computer speeds their reactions, but still allows their human brains to make intelligent decisions based on calculations.
Brainships in fiction
1941 - Solar Plexus by James Blish.
1961 – The Ship Who Sang, by Anne McCaffrey. The brainship was popularized in this short story about the brainship Helva.
1965 – Becalmed in Hell, by Larry Niven. This short story was about Eric, an injured man who became a brainship, and his mobile partner Howie. Eric could not take off from the hazardous surface of Venus because he "felt" something wrong with his "wings". Howie had to find a solution before they both died.
1966, 1969 – Additional Short Stories, by McCaffrey. These short stories were published in the The Ship Who Sang collection.
1979 - Mayflies by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. A human brain is reprogrammed to serve as a ship's computer for a colonization trip expected to take 15 years (ship's time). The original human personality, thought to be gone, reasserts itself, and inadvertently turns off the main drive early in the mission, stretching the flight time to hundreds of years. The human personality struggles against the imposed programming.
1996 – The Ship Errant? , by S.M. Stirling.
1997 – The Ship Avenged? , by Jody Lynn Nye.
1994 – Starfire board wargame? – Alkelda Dawn expansion, originally created in 1979 by Stephen V. Cole. This "4X" (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) board wargame simulates space warfare and empire building in the 23rd century. In it, the J'rill? are a race of cybernetic brainships. Originally humanoid, their meritocracy needed to process more and more information as their world grew and computerized. Development of Brain-computer interfaces improved their services to society. However, the Directors became more distant from their bodies as technology advanced. Eventually, their bodies required only life support, making them effectively immortal. As they lost their humanity, their policy decisions became heartless, eventually leading to civil war. The J'rill directors suppressing the revolt by destroying nearly all of their subjects.