November 30, 2019


Commentary for November 30, 2019:

I have to admit, doing the whole hyperspace “tunnel” effect was quite worrying for me, but I think I’ve done a reasonable job of it. Anyway, I did say in Wednesday’s commentary that I’d talk a little bit about how I envision hyperspace working in Eon’s World.

So, there are two usual ways of travelling faster than light, which are via warp and via hyperspace. A warp drive allows a ship to travel through normal space at many times the speed of light by distorting space around the ship -- i.e. “warping” space. A hyperdrive or a jump gate, on the other hand, allows a ship to enter hyperspace, where it can cover stellar distances in a fraction of the time it would take to travel through normal space, even with a warp drive.

If a ship is outfitted with a hyperdrive, it can jump into hyperspace at will. If not, it can use a jump gate. Jump gates and hyperdrives work in essentially the same way; they target the desired destination and the ship then rides the hyperspace conduit from point A to point B, where it will then return to normal space. The destination needs to be close to a gravity source -- like a star or a planet -- to pull the ship out of hyperspace.

A jump requires precise targeting. Too close to the gravitational body would result in a collision that would destroy the ship. But too far off and the ship wouldn’t be pulled out of hyperspace at the right time and would continue travelling until either the hyperspace conduit deteriorates enough for the ship to be (very roughly) dropped back into normal space (after about 10,000 light years) or it hits a gravity source other than the intended target. In the latter case, a fatal collision is most likely, but there is always a slim chance of being returned safely to normal space; however, it is likely this would be in a completely unknown part of space, potentially outside of communications range and beyond any hope of rescue. In addition to precise targeting, there has to be a clear path to the desired destination, but any potential obstruction would read as an anomaly during the targeting sequence, which would prevent a lock from being established. Of course, in extremely rare case, a rogue planet, an undetected brown dwarf, a black hole, or anything else that wouldn’t be visible to long range sensors at the time of targeting could pass close enough to the hyperspace conduit to pull a ship back into normal space unexpectedly (and potentially fatally). It’s just one of the many risks of space travel.

Additionally, with a hyperdrive, a ship can drop back into normal space at any time, but a ship without one is committed to its destination once it passes through the jump gate. Except for very fragile spacecraft, any ship from a dreadnought down to a single-seat fighter can travel via jump gate, even if it doesn’t have any kind of FTL drive of its own, and even ships with hyperdrives may travel via jump gate in order to save fuel. Moreover, an entire fleet can travel through a jump gate at once.

Hyperspace technology, however, is rare. The Cornerian Federation is the only civilization anywhere near Sol with it and they are careful to keep it from falling into other hands. So the Terran Union only has warp drive, which is fast enough for a perfectly functional interstellar civilization, but significantly slower than hyperdrive and jump gates. Think of it as the difference between a civilization whose fastest mode of transport is wooden sailing ships versus one with modern jet planes.

Anyway, I wanted to show a little more personality in the Invincible’s crew here, since they don’t play a huge role in this story arc, besides Captain Fennec and Commander Forrest to a lesser degree. But I felt this scene was a good moment for Lieutenant Nevius to start infodumping about hyperspace when the Captain asked her a much simpler question. After all, she is the ship’s helmsman and is naturally very excited to be travelling so fast right now. I suppose the moment was also a little bit inspired by how Data often starts infodumping when asked a simple question in Star Trek. 

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