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The crews of the starships are funny that way
When they're not on a deck they do not like things quiet
They'll turn first a glass then a whole tavern over
Get thrown in the lockup, confined to the field,
And then, in a rush of filled forms and paid prices,
They exit, all quickly, with nothing to say
Sestina: Midnight stations,
GURPS Traveller Starports
In most Space Opera settings space travel is commonplace and routine, but in some settings there are people who spend almost their entire lives in space. These people were born and raised on a starship or space station and can't imagine living on a planet. Often they act as traders, with an extended family owning and operating a ship. Recently, with knowledge of the ill effects of extended periods in space, Spacers are increasingly portrayed as genetically engineered subspecies that do not experience muscular and skeletal degeneration from zero-gravity, are immune to radiation, have prehensile toes...
Compare Generation Ship, where multiple generations are born and live out their entire lives on board a slow-moving ship headed for a distant planet.
- CJ Cherryh's Alliance Union universe has humanity divided culturally into planet-siders, stationers, and spacers. Spacers are usually organized into merchant clans owning one or more ships. They also have one-night stands in ports to prevent inbreeding.
- One of Larry Niven's stories features the descendants of stranded astronauts who live in a cloud surrounding a star. They are extremely tall and slim and have elongated toes, as well as a high infant mortality rate due to the lack of gravity.
- In Mass Effect this is one of your possible backgrounds. There are also the Quarians who live entirely on ships and have weakened immune systems (such that they need to wear isolation suits) as a result.
- Stargate Atlantis has the Travelers, who fled the Wraith in a fleet of starships centuries ago. They did try to start a colony on a planet late in the series though.
- The Gatekeepers of Schlock Mercenary are aliens who have, as a result of 100,000 years of genetic engineering, more limbs than can be easily counted and the ability to survive vacuum for short periods.
- In Freefall Winston Thurmad has spacer genes and his parents live in an asteroid, but he himself hasn't been in space since the colony ship from home.
- Orions Arm has Space Adapted People, Vacuum Adapted People (for short periods), and Sailors of the Ebon Seas.
- Void Dogs has "space gypsies" as well as a parahuman whose feet are more like hands.
- GURPS Transhuman Space has the libertarian Duncanites, who invented a parahuman template for life in microgravity. As well as a number of groups that live around the Lagrange points in oftentimes poorly maintained habitats.
- While Chakona Space's most well known race of near-perfect, genetically engineered hermaphrodite centaurs prefer terrestrial environments there are also Starwalker Stellar foxtaurs that are designed to withstand microgravity and survive vacuum for about an hour.
- In Serenity Kaylee refers to their ship as their home. They don't really seem to have another.
- The Abh of Crest of the Stars are another genetically engineered race, with key modifications being a third eye to better navigate in three dimensions and the ability to withstand high acceleration and microgravity.
- Part of Travis Mayweather's backstory in Star Trek: Enterprise is that he comes from such a family, and thus has a lot more experience in space than most of the crew. Naturally, his family (when they show up) fit as well.
- In Eclipse Phase the majority of transhumanity lives in space habitats following The Fall (though there are significant populations on Mars, Venus, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn). In addition one faction, the Scum, live on converted colony ships.
- In Traveller there are a number of people like this including one human minor race. Free Traders are implied to often live like this. And while not the same thing there are a large number of people who while living on planet have more connection to intersteller life then their homeworld.
- Traveller assumes Artificial Gravity and other high-tech perks. The chief annoyance would be the crowding and the closed space; a traveller starship would be no more uncomfortable then a ship on the ocean.
- There are a number of these in the Vorkosigan Saga - notable examples include the Quaddies, who have a second set of arms in place of legs and prefer micro- or zero-gravity environments, and the station-born Elli Quinn, who regards actual planets as dirty and uninviting.
- Male Morrigi in Sword of the Stars spend their entire lives after the age of three in space, only "descending" upon a planet to trade or mate. Probably accounts partially for the size difference between males and the planet-bound females.
- In Isaac Asimov's novella The Martian Way men who make a living from salvaging space junk live mostly in space. Despite having gravity on the spacecraft they still suffer from ill-effects from living in space, such as being scrawny and being expoused to too much U.V radiation.
- The titular characters of The Space Gypsy Adventures Radio Drama.
- The "Free Traders" in the Robert A. Heinlein juvenile Citizen of the Galaxy live in nomadic clans whose homes are their starships. They are noted for being somewhat disdainful of planet-dwellers, whom they sometimes refer to as "fraki".