Technological Overview

Communication

Interstellar communication is made possible by hyperwave relay stations, which operate on a principle similar to that which operates the stargates. Hyperwave stations are enormous structures, although not as large as stargates. A hyperwave station can only transmit to one receiver at a time, and aligning the transmitter properly is a time-consuming process. Hyperwave stations can receive from all directions, however.

Hyperwave stations were invented during the Old Imperium in an attempt to duplicate the stargates. The signal broadcast by a hyperwave station travels through X-space, rather than the V-space through which starships travel. X-space transmissions travel considerably faster than starships through V-space: hours, rather than days. Unfortunately, while it is possible to send transmissions through X-space, it is not possible to send matter.

Computers

Computers are smaller and more powerful than in our world, but as in our world, the demand placed upon them increases to consume all available processing power. Also, although the processors in computers are nearly microscopic, human beings have not decreased in size. For these reasons the computers available in The Edge of Space are roughly the same size and serve roughly the same purposes as in our own world (although they are much easier to use).

Cybernetics

Cybernetic prostheses are common and relatively affordable. However, many worlds place restrictions on certain types of prostheses, specifically prosthetic weapons. Functionally and cosmetically, cybernetic prostheses are in most ways inferior to their organic counterparts, particularly in that they are not self-repairing and require periodic maintenance, and must be repaired or replaced if damaged. Cybernetic prostheses are most often used in cases where the patient cannot afford tissue grafts and direct organ replacement.

Energy Weapons

Advances in the capacity and efficiency of power storage cells have made energy weapons practical. They have not supplanted projectile weapons, however. Projectile weapons are typically more durable and less sensitive to abuse.

Genengineering

Genengineering can accomplish extraordinary things, but its use is severely restricted in most of the galaxy due to some rather infamous failures in the past. Genengineering is usually limited to approved medical uses (increased sexual prowess and improved appearance being the most-requested "medical uses", followed by organ replacement and treatment of disease).

Gravplates

Artifical gravity generators are common and relatively affordable. It may be worth pointing out that a graveplate does not actually create a gravity field, it merely simulates its effects. A gravplate is placed above the area in which one wants to simulate the effect of gravity, and the plate pushes down on the area with the desired force. For this reason, gravplates must be mounted securely or the force they generate will push the plate itself away from the ground. This is the same effect used to support aircars, hoverbikes, grounded starships, surfboards, and so on, and is, in principle, similar to the effect of having a very large and powerful fan blowing down on you from above. The strength of the gravplate's effect diminishes as the distance between the plate and the reaction mass (whatever the plate is pushing against) increases. As such, grav vehicles have a very limited altitude, and they cannot be used for propulsion in a vacuum.

Stargates

Interstellar travel is made possible by the stargates, enormous circular structures that predate the oldest existing civilizations. Stargates allow a starship to slip into V-space, another reality where... well, it would take a scientist to explain it. Suffice to say that in V-space things are closer together than they are in our universe. Travel between stargates may take anywhere from a day to a week, but two to three days is more typical. Legend says that at its height, traveling from one end of the Old Imperium to the other took six weeks. The time it takes to travel from stargate to stargate is further protracted by the fact that after each activation, a gate will not respond to key sequence signals for several hours.

To use a stargate, a ship must send the proper signal to the gate. The signal contains complex instructions, including the key sequence to open the gate and the destination code. The code for opening a specific gate is static: each gate has only one opening key sequence. The code for each destination is specific to both the destination stargate and the point of origin. Sending the wrong opening code has no adverse consequences: the gate will simply remain inert. Sending the wrong destination code is potentially disastrous, however. If the gate opens (as it does approximately 30% of the time when an incorrect destination code is transmitted), the ship that enters the gate is not heard from again. At best, it arrives at a hitherto unknown stargate somewhere across the galaxy. At worst... The codes that are currently in use were created (or discovered) during the Old Imperium, over the course of hundreds of years. Periodically, someone discovers a code opening a new destination to an existing stargate, but the trial-and-error process of discovering these codes is expensive and extremely time-consuming (put in a code, send a drone... put in a code, send a drone...). The Old Imperium may have had a more efficient method of discovering the stargate sequence codes, but if so this method was lost during the Contraction.

Stargates are always found in orbit around gas giants.

Copyright © 1998-2001 Brandon Blackmoor