Dr. Kincaid writes:
“I’ve received several questions on linkspace travel and why ships don’t stop mid-link. I won’t go into the grisly scientific details, mostly because they are very grisly, but the short answer is this:
“Linkspace is different from normal space.
“I know, ‘No blather!’ but that is the reason. Let’s consider normal space and locations within it. Pick a single reference point, no matter where it is. We’ll use the Metropole star. Any other location in normal space can be described using a three-component vector starting at Metropole and ending at the other location. ‘But,’ you say, ‘what about time?’ Slib. Make it a four-component vector with the last coordinate being the time it takes to traverse the distance. Therefore ‘It takes T time to travel from point (0, 0, 0) (Metropole) to point (X, Y, Z).’
“Except that it doesn’t. Even if we assume a constant linear distance from Metropole to our destination the time component is not constant! Simply put, if we travel twice as fast it only takes half as long. Once again, we’re ignoring the fact that the two points are in motion with respect to each other (which contributes to jitter) and the relativistic effect of moving at any speed greater than zero.
“Now we factor in the curvature of space. Even though we perceive it as linear, and on a small enough scale it is indistinguishable from, space is not linear. For truth, linearity as a concept is just that: concept and not reality. The simple fact is normal space is curved. In order to travel from one world to another we must take that curvature into account.
“Linkspace is also curved. Depending on the phase used, the curvature is either very similar to normalspace or very dissimilar. The term scientists use is relatively plesilinear or simply plesilinear. The word itself means, loosely, close to linear. This plesilinearity both allows faster-than-light travel and complicates it.
“Every point in normal space has a corresponding point in linkspace(es) but the path between these points does not necessarily correspond. I can see your thoughts bubbling. Right now you’re thinking ‘But the pathway between two corresponding points is composed of points, each of which has a corresponding point, therefore the paths must be identical!’ And you would be wrong. This is where plesilinearity comes into play. While it is true that the path-points in normalspace do have corresponding points in linkspace, the curvature between them is different!
“What this means is that, while the endpoints of both paths do correspond, the actual points along the path traversed in linkspace do not necessarily correspond to points along that particular path in normal space. Therefore, terminating the link before reaching the destination could put the ship anywhere.
“For those of you now worried about traveling, don’t. Statistically speaking you’re much safer taking a link than you are driving a hover to work. For those who don’t like statistics, League vessels are built with multiply-redundant safety systems in place. They’re not just redundant, they are designed to fail before linking it if something’s wrong. That means if the thalyssium grid or coils have even the slightest irregularity the link will fail, the lights will flash and you’ll spend a little more time where you are instead of where you want to be.
“I hope this allays your concerns. By all means keep your questions coming!”
F. R. Kincaid, PhD, ArG
If you’re interested in the universe about which Dr. Kincaid speaks, you can read all about it in A Pattern of Details and the Stone Blade series:
I’ll also be continuing my posts about writing and about my writing.