Need help with a story device


An Old Friend
I found a wiki article named Faster-than-light travel in fiction while looking for research for a short story I am writing. There are many references to FTL travel in Science Fiction but my favorite has to be one that is not mentioned. Thought. To travel at the speed of thought has no range except for that of your own imagination. There are no limits, just think of a destination and bang, you are there.
Here are some examples of FTL that are given at wiki. Which one or ones are you partial too and why?

The Alderson drive, named after Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Dan Alderson, is a fictional device that enables instantaneous interstellar transportation. It is featured in the CoDominium series of science fiction novels by Jerry Pournelle, including the Mote series by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Dan Alderson helped Pournelle work out the notional science behind the drive, and how it should work to be a useful plot device.​

In E.E. "Doc" Smith's fictional Lensman series, the Bergenholm generator is the key to faster-than-light transportation. It functions by rendering an object inertialess so that it instantly takes on an analogue of terminal velocity: that is, the speed and direction of motion in which frictional resistance from the medium it is travelling through is equal and opposite to the applied force, such as the force of a ship's jets. The maximum speed possible with the Bergenholm drive depends on the force exerted by a ship's jets, the density of matter around the ship, and even the size and streamlining of the ship. Thus, intergalactic space travel is possible in reasonably short time, because the matter in intergalactic space is less dense than in interstellar space.​

The standard ways of circumventing relativity in 1950s and 1960s science fiction were hyperspace, subspace and spacewarp. Harrison's contribution was the "Bloater Drive". This enlarges the gaps between the atoms of the ship until it spans the distance to the destination, whereupon the atoms are moved back together again, reconstituting the ship at its previous size but in the new location. An occasional side-effect is that the occupants see a planet drifting, in miniature, through the hull.​

A farcaster is an instantaneous transportation device in the fictional Hyperion universe. Farcasters allow two points separated by a vast distance to be brought together at a Farcaster Portal. The Farcaster network connects hundreds of planets of the Hegemony of Man into their WorldWeb. The Farcaster network allowed transport between connected worlds without any time discrepancy, unlike Hawking drive (FTL - faster than light) transport provided by spaceships of the Hegemony era. The Farcaster was developed by the Artificial Intelligences (AIs) of the TechnoCore and given to humanity sometime after the Hegira.​

The idea of a hyperdrive in most science fiction relies on the existence of a separate and adjacent dimension most commonly called "hyperspace," though various other names have been used: "Drivespace," "The Immaterium," "slipspace," "Space2," "subspace," "Space Jump," "Zero-space," etc. When activated, the hyperdrive shunts the starship into this other dimension, where it can cover vast distances in an amount of time greatly reduced from the time it would take in "real" space. Once it reaches the point in hyperspace that corresponds to its destination in real space, it re-emerges. Usually, hyperdrive refers to a method of travel in which it takes a measurable amount of time to go from one point to another. When the distance is covered instantaneously, the term jump drive is often used.​

The inertialess drive is a fictional means of accelerating to close to the speed of light or faster-than-light travel, originally used in Triplanetary and the Lensman series by E.E. "Doc" Smith, and later by Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, and Alastair Reynolds.​

An interstellar teleporter is a hypothetical technology appearing in science fiction, typically in hard sci-fi, which teleports people and/or other objects over interstellar distances instantaneously. In some cases the matter of the physical person or object is scanned or disassembled at the point of departure and information is transmitted so that the person or object may be reassembled at the point of arrival.​

A jump drive is one of the speculative inventions in science fiction, a method of traveling faster than light (FTL). Related concepts are hyperdrive, warp drive and interstellar teleporter. The key characteristic of a jump drive (as the term is usually used) is that it allows a starship to be instantaneously teleported between two points. A jump drive is supposed to make a spaceship (or any matter) go from one point in space to another point, which may be several light years away, in a single instant. Like time travel, a jump drive is often taken for granted in science fiction, but very few science fiction works talk about the mechanics behind a jump drive. There are vague indications of the involvement of tachyons and the space-time continuum in some works.​

In science fiction, a jump gate (or 'jumpgate') is a fictional device able to create a wormhole or portal, allowing fast travel between two points in space. Several works use this term extensively.​

Kefitzat Haderech (Hebrew: קְפִיצַת הַדֶּרֶךְ, Modern Qəfiẓat haDéreḫ or Kfitzat haDérech Tiberian Qəp̄îṣáṯ hadDéreḵ) is a Jewish term that literally means "contracting the path". It refers to miraculous travel between two distant places in a brief time.
The Talmud (BT Sanhedrin 95) lists three biblical stories in which this miracle occurs. In early stories of the Chasidic movement, wonder-working rabbis are ascribed the ability to reach destinations with unnatural speed. Nigal, Hasidic Stories
The name Kwisatz Haderach from Dune universe (translated as "the Shortening of the Way") is presumably derived from the term kefitzat haderech.​

The Quadrail is a system consisting of a minimum of four rails wrapped inside of a tube. The tube allows for faster-than-light transport through most of the known galaxy and includes the 12 Empires recognized in Zahn's Quadrail series.​

"Slipstream" is a science fiction term for a fictional method of faster-than-light space travel, similar to hyperspace travel, warp drive, or "transfer points" from David Brin's Uplift series.​

A Stargate is a portal device within the Stargate fictional universe that allows practical, rapid travel between two distant locations. The devices first appear in the 1994 Roland Emmerich film Stargate, and thereafter in the television series Stargate SG-1 and its spin-offs. In these productions the Stargate functions as a plot generator, allowing the main characters to visit alien planets without the need for spaceships or any other fictional technology.​

The term "tachypomp" refers to a fictional device theoretically capable of attaining infinite speed. The machine itself is a series of trains (or any train-like vehicle) each half the length of the first, stacked vertically. The trains would thus move in tandem, and their speeds would be added to find the speed of the train on top. For instance, if the bottom train were moving 40 miles an hour and the train above that 40 miles an hour, then the speed of the higher train would be 80 miles an hour.​

Tayy al-Arḍ (Arabic: طيّ الأرض‎ "folding up of the earth") is the name for thaumaturgical teleportation in the mystical form of Islamic religious and philosophical tradition. The concept has been expressed as "traversing the earth without moving"; some have termed it "moving by the earth being displaced under one's feet". It is a concept widely familiar to the Sunnis, Shī‘īs and Sufis, each group having a different interpretation on it.​

The Bistromathic Drive is used in Slartibartfast's craft Starship Bistromath and works by exploiting the irrational mathematics that apply to numbers on a waiter's bill pad and groups of people in restaurants. the novel Life, the Universe and Everything describes bistromathics​

The Infinite Improbability Drive is a faster-than-light drive. The most prominent usage of the drive is in the starship Heart of Gold. It is based on a particular perception of quantum theory: a subatomic particle is most likely to be in a particular place, such as near the nucleus of an atom, but there is also a small probability of it being found very far from its point of origin (for example close to a distant star).​

Warp drive is a faster-than-light (FTL) propulsion system in the setting of many science fiction works, most notably Star Trek. A spacecraft equipped with a warp drive may travel at velocities greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude, while circumventing the relativistic problem of time dilation. Some of the other fictions in which warp drive technology is featured include: Stars!, EVE Online, Earth and Beyond, StarCraft, Darkspace, Starship Troopers, Red Dwarf, Mass Effect, and Star Ocean. In contrast to many other fictional FTL technologies, such as a "jump drive" or the Infinite Improbability Drive, the warp drive does not permit instantaneous travel between two points; instead, warp drive technology creates an artificial "bubble" of normal space-time that surrounds the spacecraft (as opposed to entering a separate realm or dimension like hyperspace, such as the "warp drive" which is used in the Warhammer 40,000 universe). Consequently, spacecraft at warp velocity can continue to interact with objects in normal space.​

Is there any others? You know how limited wiki can be. What other FTL transportation is there? Do you know of any SciFi that uses thought as a transportation device? If So, can you please direct me to it?

Which is your favorite mode of transport? Which one is the most believable or the least distracting to the story? Why?

In my story I am looking to explore the various super-clusters that compose the rest of the universe. The distances are so great it would take a warp drive millions if not hundreds of millions of years to get to even one. Folding space might be a possibility but that would require extremely high and complicated technology and energy.

To give you an idea of the distances here is a nice site that looks at super-clusters called the Atlas of the Universe. The link takes you to the Super-cluster image
The Universe within 1 billion Light Years - The Neighbouring Superclusters

BTW, the drive will need to be interuniverse not interstellar or intergalactic.

Number of superclusters within 1 billion light years = 100
* Number of galaxy groups within 1 billion light years = 240 000
* Number of large galaxies within 1 billion light years = 3 million
* Number of dwarf galaxies within 1 billion light years = 60 million
* Number of stars within 1 billion light years = 250 000 trillion

As for the mechanics of the ThoughtDrive, I am thinking of using a device where a person (the navigator) hooks his brain up to a AI Singularity (the engine) and nanoassemblers build a ship around the crew which is then thought-ported to its destination.

Time on Earth passes at the same rate as the time for the Navigator. If the navigator experiences 1 hr while away, and returns then only 1 hr will have lapsed on Earth.

To the casual observer the mass of the navigator, crew, AI Singularity and ship wink out of existence. Upon return, any matter in the field where the travelers reemerge is displaced away. A chair in the way would just move out of the field. Likewise, if emerging in earth or water the substrate would move away creating a void that would be filled by the matter of the travelers. They could then jump to a safer destination. If jumping into the air, the navigator would just rejump for a safe landing.
Just a quick note, think in the US “The Start my Destination” was called “Tiger! Tiger!”

Jaunting might not work directly into what you want due to the fact that it required the Jaunter to first be in the place for later Jaunting (but is, its fictional, right?).
Most stories that use teleportation (be it short or long distances), require the person to first visualize the place he/she/it wants to teleport to (I am remembering the Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, that could move themselves, their riders and objects they were holding). Strangely, I never found a story that used remote-seeing to provide that visualization for teleport purposes.

As to other thoughts of transportation in FTL, I believe DUNE had some ideas on that. The Navigators guild (the guys that used the spice) where plugged into the ships to allow FTL navigation. I don’t think they actually did the moving, but they were part of the navigation process, due to be able to see partial futures.

Peter of Aragon


Creative Writer
Having been to a place and memorising the spot has some weight compared to 'blind' teleportation. Since galaxies are spinning round, solar systems are spinning inside, and planets rotate themselves, I'd guess knowing the location you were teleporting to would be extremely beneficial!

That said, if someone changes that location, ie. brings a digger in and makes a big hole, landscaping, or puts a building in place, I can imagine it won't go down too well for the jumper.

That leads to inbuilt safety. If the location you are going to jump to, it's molecules, is too far different from what you "remember" then you can't physically jump?

I suppose, jumping without having been there "may" work if you have a direct video feed of the place for safety. But still, the calculations for the spinning galaxies/systems/planets................

This is why I personally lean towards ships, in space where there is hardly any matter, enclosed in an energy/force bubble, folding space and popping out somewhere else, displacing the molecules that are in the location jumped to. I doubt a human being could carry the equipment and have it work reliably enough to perform that function.

Although that said, fire specialists are working on "magic wands" that produce electricity to fight fires in enclosed spaces by bending or even snapping out flames at their source. It's all speculation in the future, but things like this do make me go "wow" in a science class sort of fashion :smiley:


An Old Friend
Upon return, any matter in the field where the travelers reemerge is displaced away. A chair in the way would just move out of the field. Likewise, if emerging in earth or water the substrate would move away creating a void that would be filled by the matter of the travelers. They could then jump to a safer destination. If jumping into the air, the navigator would just rejump for a safe landing.

Jumper is based on teleporting with prior knowledge. The Navigators in Dune 'Folded' space.

In one of the episodes of Universe it was speculated that in the entire life of the Universe everything that can be imagined will have happened.

With a powerful enough Singularity AI with nanotechnology at its disposal. All the navigator needs to do is imagine a place to go and the AI would work out the details. Just imagine an area of space anywhere and the AI calculates and moves the ship to a safe location within that area.

The fastest computer in the world for 2011 is supposed to be the Titan and/or the Sequoia.
They will boast 20 petaflop per second. (One petaflops is equal to 1,000 teraflops, or 1,000,000,000,000,000 FLOPS.)
The AI Singularity will measure its calculations in GogolFlops per yoctosecond and increase exponentially as time progresses. It will be more aware of the Universe than the Universe itself. Its abilities will appear as omnipotent. For all its abilities it will not be able to imagine things it has no reference for. It needs us for our imaginative abilities.

If the navigator imagines Heaven or Hell it will look for conditions in the Universe that represent the reality of that imagined. If dragons are imagined, it will look for worlds with dragons and so on.


An Old Friend
Does anyone know of any SciFi that is based upon the creation of stable matter thru vacuum energy (Zero-Point Energy)?
We know that matter is created in vacuum energy but it is unstable. What if all the matter in the Universe is an example of Vacuum Energy Matter that happened to be stable? What if an entity (In this case a Singularity AI) had achieved the ability to anchor matter spontaneously created in vacuum? It controlled advanced quantum nanobot assemblers that allowed it to control how the matter assembled. The result would be anything could be created anywhere.
Several years ago, I read a paper (real one, not fiction) about matter creation near the event horizon of black hole. The theory was that from nothing, matter could be created in special circumstances.
The article actually named the particles, but I do not remember them, so I will just say particle.
The theory stated that matter could appear and disappear at any time and in any place. A particle and its anti-particle could spontaneously appear due to the fact that added together they have 0 energy. Their lifetime however, was incredible small, and they would disappear again near instantly.
The theory then postulated that, if this phenomenon occurred near the event horizon of a black hole, it could be possible that one particle was absorbed by the black hole, while the other escaped and therefore free to continue to exist. Therefore, matter was created from empty space.
I believe the theory went on saying this might explain why there was an imbalance on certain particles.

Now, if you have a singularity AI, by that term, I assume you have a black hole like situation, and therefore the AI would be able to create matter at will near its borders. Your nanotechnology would then be able to shape those particles into atoms, molecules, etc.

Peter of Aragon

p.s. i know this is NOT vacuum energy, but it's similar and it might help.


An Old Friend
Singularity - Vernor Vinge on the Singularity

Singularity is Near -SIN Graph - Growth in Supercomputer Power

The Law of Accelerating Returns « Kurzweil

Here is the 30 year projection:


This shows performance relative to today. So this graph predicts we will see a 109 (one billion) fold improvement by the year 2040.

The Singularity Is Always Steep

The thing with technology singularity is that it will advance so far beyond human intellect in such a short time it may acquire godlike powers (at least to us).
For the sake of story - this AI Singularity is pro-human. It deems us special for our concept of imagination and unpredictability.

Imagine for a second that something could control gravity. It could influence the fundamental forces of the Universe and manipulate them at will. Creating a black hole would just be a matter of forcing gravitons? together in great abundance. We may not be able to do this but an intellect a trillion times smarter might have the ability.

At a GogolFlops per yoctosecond this entity might even be able to sense or influence gaps between time and space. It might sense quantum entanglement as a physical realm. It may be able to tap the energy behind the material universe. At that speed, our concept of space and time might be irrelevant. The need to act upon reality may not be required any longer. It would manipulate space time using fundamental universe forces.

We detect light from across the universe. We know there are super clusters of huge galaxies and immense patches of voids. We cannot detect the universe as a structure in itself because we are inside looking thru it. An entity that can displace itself from the universe will be able to do things we can't even imagine. I wish to explore some of those things.