The Great Diaspora

Exerpted from:

Win-Bahg, A., (2180). A Brief History of the Great Diaspora, 3rd ed. Spica:Schaum University Press.


The Great Diaspora is generally considered to have begun around 2090 when the first of the ten ark-ships, Serendipity, left Sol for the Tau Ceti system and lasted until approximately 2102 when the last of the ark-ships, Eureka, made transit to Delta Pavonis. In those 12 stanyers, the ark-ships established human presence in thirty-two systems and moved over a million people off the planet.


The Twentieth Century gave the universe three great minds — Albert Einstein, Steven Hawking, and Eva Silverstein. It wasn’t until the middle of the Twenty-First Century that their various works in relativity, time, and string theory came together in a Quantum Physics Lab at UC/Berkeley when Doctoral Candidates Edvard Knapp and Marla Xi discovered the convergence of the three bodies of work in a set of equations that Knapp maintained was an attempt to get pizza delivered to his lab while the cheese was still hot. Knapp’s self-deprecating humor notwithstanding, the theoretical constructs which formed the foundation of what would become known as the Burleson drive were known by 2040. It took another twenty years for reclusive entrepreneur T. A. Burleson to construct a working prototype and transport it far enough out of the solar system’s gravity well to test it. The first successful test occurred on 2061-10-12 when the automated package jumped from Sol to Proxima Centauri and back in an afternoon. Ironically, it took longer for the radioed news of the breakthrough to reach Earth, less than 4 billion miles away, than it took for the probe to travel the eight light-years to Promixa Centauri and back.

The basis of the drive had been theorized for decades and was based on the idea that travel over interstellar distances could be possible without violating any of Einstein’s theories of relativity if one were able to bend the space-time continuum in such a way that two points very far away from each other could be made contiguous long enough for a vessel to travel between them. Quantum physics and string theory provided the foundational knowledge which Knapp and Xi finally integrated and Burleson implemented. The problem, as we know today, is that the Burleson drive only works when it is far enough outside of a system’s gravity well to overcome the residual gravity to successfully fold space-time in such a way that a ship can transition from one point in the universe to another without actually passing through all the intervening points. The transition is almost instantaneous and the ship never goes much faster than a fraction of the speed of light.

That marked the beginning of an unprecedented race for the stars. Once it became known that it was actually possible to reach them, resources poured into what became known as “first and last mile” technologies. The challenge became how to travel 4,000 million miles in a short enough period of time to make the trip worthwhile and without becoming bankrupt in the process. Eventually designs for what we know today as the Solar Clippers (See note 1) began coming out of commercial research and development efforts and all the pieces came together for what would become known as The Great Diaspora of 2090.

Ark-ships and the Rise of Commercialism

Perhaps not since the Gold Rush of 1849 on Earth has such a massive migration of the human race occurred with largely private money. T. A. Burleson’s wealth financed the creation of the drive that still carries her name without any governmental funding. Attempts by governments to gain regulatory control of the device were stymied by the publication of the plans on public networks, effectively releasing it into the public domain. The technology needed to create the fields was relatively common and Burleson, already the eighth richest person on the planet, made nothing in licenses from the drive.(See note 2)

A private consortium of business people put up the estimated four hundred billion credits to build the ark-ships in an orbital shipyard anchored over the Pacific Ocean of Earth. Shuttle technology of the early days was rudimentary compared to what it would become but in spite of that, the first ship began space trials in 2088 and the last came off the ways in 2093. After that, the yard was converted to general ship construction and even as the first colonies were being established, the conglomerates began positioning themselves.

By 2102 it was possible to buy regular, albeit expensive, passage to practically all of Earth’s colonies which marked the end of the Diaspora and the viability of the ark-ships to establish colonies. Smaller, more agile, and faster ships in the new commercial fleets edged out the ark-ships. They were eventually all sold to the shipping conglomerates and refitted to be luxury liners except for the Serendipity which was turned into an orbital museum in Sol System.

Meanwhile, the next generation of explorers and entrepreneurs was fanning out to find planets suited to human habitation. Many of these explorers were funded by the shipping conglomerates and by 2145 nearly 400 systems had been identified as having the potential to support human life with little or no terra-forming effort and over 500 more would support humans with a moderate terraforming effort. Fully two-thirds of these systems became de facto Company systems where all aspects of life were controlled by the corporate entities that had funded exploration and subsequent development. Surprisingly there were few instances of “claim jumping” and very little conflict among the Big Five. There was just too much volume to cover and too many rich opportunities to waste time squabbling over single systems.


With all this available space in which to spread out, the human race exploded. From a modest beginning of 12B in Sol’s planets and orbital stations, the human population in the galaxy mushroomed to over 48B by 2120 as advances in longevity took the average lifespan from 90 stanyers up to 130. Restrictions on family size were rather strict in Sol System, but non-existent on colonies and many of those who took thos early ark-ships saw emigration as a path to having families. By 2180 the growth curve leveled out at about 120B and has remained around 5% for the last century.


The convergence of Twentieth Century ideas and Twenty-First Century capitalism resulted in the establishment of a human galactic civilization. More and more systems are established every year, some of which grow and prosper while others become the galactic equivalent of ghost towns. Early concerns about first contact with alien races and infections diseases have proven, so far, to be unfounded.


1. The Solar Clipper used established field-generation technologies in what became known as solar-sails and gravity-keels allowing the ships to move at significant speeds within the solar system. This technology had been available and in use since the 2050’s in asteroid mining operations but had not been used on the same scale as the clippers.

2. Despite not retaining rights to the drive technology, Burleson capitalized on the device, by setting up the first commercial transportation line, Ad Astra, in 2097 to link Earth with the twenty-two systems established by then and expanding to serve all thirty-two original colonies by 2105.

48 Responses to The Great Diaspora

  1. christine says:

    i’d been wondering about some of these things (propulsion, population, aliens and such) as i listen to your podcasts, so thanks for the details!

  2. Erich says:

    I love the “Ad Astra” reference.

    I love the books. Keep em coming!

  3. Andrew says:

    Hey Nate,
    I’m only a very new listener. I listened to my first episode four days ago and I’m downloading the last episode of Full Share now. On Dial Up. Anyway, one of the things that has been bugging me about the trade system is that the SC Lois McKendrick must jump to a new system for in-system information on trade goods. If jumps can be completely automated back and forth, then a small automated ship can jump back and forth between a pair of systems to update, say, Dunsany Roads with the trading information in St. Cloud.

    With no life support, no crew, very little in kickers, grav keel or solar sails (doesn’t need much if jumping from a position already out of the grav well), these drones would be able to send economic data from system to system easily and probably really cheaply as the only wear is on systems, comms and the FTL drive. Assuming a device on the order with the McKendrick, an FTL drive should be good for at least 120 jumps, more if based on the Penny’s FTL drive (which would be closer in size).

    As a light speed signal can be sent from one relay ship to the next, even at hundreds of AUs apart (unlikely), all the systems would have fairly well updated economic data for all the other systems. The economic data would be set by the jump frequency but it should allow much easier multi system trading for independent cargo haulers. Of course that ruins the expectation of arriving in a new system and ruins a perfectly good plot device. All this depends on the price required for the Burleston drive, the reliability and maintenance problems of said drive and the price people would be prepared to pay for accurate economic data.

    Sorry, kinda got off track. Anyway, looking forward to Double Share and South Coast Shaman. Love the books so please keep them coming.

  4. Nate says:

    That’s a really good point.

    I need to look at that. Part of it is that by “up to date” we’re talking a question of hours, not days. Still, at 300k km/s … hm.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hours is better than days and the relay ships would be the fastest way to send a message from one location to another. A conventional ship (picket boat?) would require several days at least.

    Depending on the size of the Burleston Drive, the power system you use (probably really efficient solar panels or maybe a “Verdad reactor/generator with Pravda voltage regulator”) and the power the drive takes to jump, the relay ships could be the size of modern satellites and only weight a couple of tons or be the size of a container or even a significant percentage of the Lois.

    If Ishmael and Pip can afford to hire a container, the Conederation can easily afford to hire multiple containers if not entire ships to move the relay ships. Therefore the most problems would arise in the creation of the relay ships.

    With orbital shipyards in place, there’s no need to build the rockets required to lift the relay sats off the planet. In 2007 terms, a multi million dollar launch platform is required to launch a 1-5 million satellite. With orbital yards, there’s no need for rockets at all and even if there wasn’t, you use shuttles fairly casually in quarter share.

    Sorry about the spiels, I’m an engineer and this interests me.

  6. Nate says:

    Yes, of course.

    A Burleson drive picket oscillating back and forth would make sense. They’d be low mass and could be stationed outside the Burleson limit. As it is, the beacons are getting planetary update data for the incoming ships via normal EMP radiation. The transmission times are measured in days, not weeks.

    I suppose it would depend on the amount of traffic and the relative criticality of it. Dunsany Roads Sector isn’t exactly the crossroads of the known universe …

    Hmm. This is definitely something to think on.

  7. Andrew says:

    If the picket placed a small bouy with transciever, solar panel and basic computer in both systems that it goes to, any signals sent to another system can be logged in the bouy. The bouy can then receive any signals if the picket is in the other system allowing messages to be stored and then sent to the picket when it jumps back into the system.

    I would assume that any use of this system would be in the more important and better developed areas than the Dunsany Roads Sector. However if the important systems have been developing since maybe 2145, I’d say fifty years later would be enough time to start introducing it into Dunsany Roads. In addition, you could introduce this system as away to keep the McKendrick in touch with Ish during the academy.

    If you were using this system as a communication system between the various corporate planets and their parent corporations, you could get the corporations to help subsidise the cost of outfitting this system. In addition it would enable you to let the McKendrick contact home office within 5 days which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

    Pluto is roughly 38 AU from the Sun. Assuming, the Burleston limit is about 50-60 AUs, 150,000,000*(50 or 60)/300,000 = 25,000-30,000 seconds = 7 – 8.3 hours. Therefore transmission time inter system is about 16 hours at maximum.

    According to wikipedia though “The Sun’s gravitational field is estimated to dominate the gravitational forces of surrounding stars out to about two light years (125,000 AU).” That means the Burleston limit has to be well within that. If the Burleston limit allowed a grav field in place but sufficiently uncomplicated by planets, moons etc.?

    Thanks for letting me ramble on about this.

  8. Cory says:

    I just discovered the Quarter Share universe, and I have been cursing around the traders diary web site. I think the article about how humans colonized the galaxy is very informative and answered many questions I have had about the continuity of the world. So well done Nate. Now I think people have made some good points about how the Burleston drive could be used to develop faster communication network between the planets and I think that it is something to consider, but since this is future technology we are speculating about I can think of many reasons why it would be impractical to use a system like that.
    Ok first reason that something like that may not be possible is how many jumps a drive like that can withstand before it burns out. A solar clipper with an average life span of 40 years and mouth and a half trips between stars only makes a little over 300 jumps in it life times. so if it is making multiple jumps every day it could burn out in under a year. Which would mean that they would have to build a new one every year or so and that could get pricey if the drives coast a lot to build.
    Second maybe the drives are very fragile and delicate or just need to be recalibrated or the machinery could burn out and need to be replaced every jump or every few jumps. If that were the case every jump or every few jumps a human would have to recalibrate the machine or replace parts which defiantly would make it impossible to have a remote small ship making the jump.
    Third it might require to much energy and one small satellite sized ship would not be able to store enough energy to make the jump. The Lois has four power plants generating electricity along with multiple other sources of energy, along with the space necessary to store massive capacitors if a massive burst of energy was needed to make the jump. a small ship might not have the capacity to complete multiple jumps even if it had the energy to make one jump stored in batteries there really would be no way of recharging the batteries. If you think about it, the jump point is so far a way from the star that it is orbiting that it is no brighter then any other star so if you were using solar panels to recharge the batteries, it would be like trying to use solar panels at night (not gonna happen).
    Ok so there are just a few reasons why establishing a communications network like that would not work. Obviously I am just saying what if and providing reasons why the world is like it is in the books. But it is your would and you should do whatever you want to do with it Nate, and I will sit back and enjoy whatever you decided to write next. Ok so that is my two cents worth (more like 25 cents worth) of speculation into the would of the Solar Clipper.

  9. Jim says:

    Also, if there were an “access charge” for the information, then it may be rather expensive for a ship to get the data every time. For personal messages there would be a lower charge, but for economic data, communication with home office, and such then the charge would be higher. This way the company that ran the drone could be recovering the cost for building/maintaining the drone and making a profit. Why else would they run such a thing, if they couldn’t make a profit?

  10. Bruce says:

    We clearly need to come up with a justification which allows the plot device to remain. So I say it should go back to the RIAA. Around the same time as the great diaspora, the RIAA tried to figure out how to avoid ongoing intellectual piracy problems, and figured out ways to water-mark information broadcasts by embedding cryptographic signatures at multiple layers in the broadcast and data organization. Local system licenses are granted to distribute information, but this information is licensed for broadcast only on a single system. Realizing the impossibility of keeping information to a system, they turn a blind eye to people storing anything on their own personal storage media, but re-broadcasting information in an un-licensed system is a felony. This system is supported not only by recording artists, but by associations of traders and other folks who find that keeping trading and other arbitrage opportunities open is more profitable. This is why entertainment cubes remain a viable trade good – it’s allowed to transmit physical media, but illegal to re-broadcast this information across systems. This ongoing mindset of information segregation also explains why it didn’t occur to earlier astrogaters to hook up an automatic interface between the computer systems, as Ish did in Full Share – they’re not used to thinking about automatic, free distribution of information.

  11. nowon says:

    this is great, and i thought star trek fans were involved. when and where are we going to have the first convention, and what do we call it. i have dibs on cc.

  12. The Bee Lady says:

    Bruce – thank you! That bit about Ish being the first to think about hooking up an automatic interface for the astrogaters has been bothering me. I love blaming the RIAA. Too funny.
    Nathan – I’m having withdrawal symptoms. Please write more. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy that you have put all this extra information up on the web so I can dive back into your story at will. The addition of how people in different systems keep in contact would be appreciated. If it weren’t a free or relatively easy system, like email, then it would explain why Ish does not have much contact with others during Double Share.
    This is what is so cool about this world you are letting us play in – it’s just real enough that we can have fun rationalizing it into reality.

  13. Megan Pawlak says:

    WOW. Andrew needs to get assigned as an Engineering Cheif somewhere. lol I do this same kind of rationalization with the Pern books too. I’ve had hour conversations with my mother about the social system and how it’s evolved since Lessa became Weyrwoman. It’s just too much fun! Plus that’s a sign of a good, consistant writer. It’s up there with things like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. We have a good, solid universe to dabble in and theorize about without having too many blatant errors (and personally I can’t think of ANY at this point). It’s about the characters and what they do with the universe they’ve been handed.

    I often think about Ish and his self-depricating genius and think: “Clipper Captian.” ~_^

  14. Matt says:

    Nate, just finished listening to all your Ish books. Loved ’em! My drives to work have never been faster. Your voice is very pleasing to listen to, and the story is wonderful. So easy to lose track with them.

    While I was enjoying your hard work, I kept hoping to have on me a copy of “The Illustrated Pocket Reference Guide to the People, Places, and Vehicles from the age of the solar clippers”. However, I fear it is not a high on your priority list to make this book.

    And boy I would sure love to see this turned into a TV series and take over friday nights when BSG finishes it’s run.

    Ah well….I guess I have to just trust Lois.

  15. Nate says:

    So would I! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Kelly says:

    I love how this is sort of a futuristic version of CS Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower stories – just without the war themes. But how it deals with the learning curve of a bright young person with no shipboard experience, and how he quickly learns the ropes. I find it interesting that Ish can be so smart about some things, and such an idiot about other things. I have to ask myself: was I THAT naive when I was 18? I also appreciate that subtle shift in his personality from the first three to Double Share, where he is not as cocky, and more reserved, yet still brilliant. As Cookie would say, “You will go far, young Ishmael.” –Feel free to keep on writing books about Ish… I hope that he is going to meet up with Pip again. They make a good team. (BTW, any chance of actually publishing these in book form? I think you do an awesome job reading them, but some people, not me, prefer reading books over listening to them.) If you published them, I would buy them… I know a number of people that would enjoy this sort of story.

  17. SMike says:

    I’ve read stories where messenger ships were common; the whole “can’t send radio through a wormhole” bit meant that ships that utilized space-time-bending technology could deliver messages faster than radio signals could. I had similar thoughts to Andrew while listening to Pip, Ish and co. discussed the “empty container” and private trading. I must say that I like Bruce’s solution; blaming stuff on the RIAA is always fun.

  18. J.B. Mannon says:

    Your books are amazing and I have been really enjoying them so far. This section of the galaxy seems fairly calm and civilized but I can imagine that there are regions where there is more of a “wild west” feel. Perhapse a parent company that founded the worlds in a given sector went under and the only traffic through the systems is indies. Perhaps the government has had to step in just to keep some of the planets supplied. Just some thoughts on other points of conflict that may be possable.
    You are an amazing author and I really enjoy listening to you read your stories.

  19. Herbert A Shedden says:

    ok for all that ships weaving back and forth to relay info why would light pulse com be slower if you sent it thrue as a ship “Crossed”?

  20. Nate says:

    It wouldn’t. But the window is only open as long as the ship is going thru.

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this…

  21. Shane A. Leslie says:

    Nate, you are amazing.
    I’m on my second pass through the series – doing them continuously back to back over the course of this week while I work. Add me to the list of people that want high quality hard cover collector copies; for all the books in the series. I’ve got a DVD of the pod-casts on the same shelf as my Tolkien, Asimov, Heinlein, and Hubbard books, and anticipate the day that I can add a Lowell section of hardcovers to that shelf. In a couple of years my daughter will be old enough for me to start reading Quarter Share to her (with a few scenes substituted with ‘snuggles’) and I hope that she takes Ishmael as the role model I wish I’d had when I was young and impressionable.

  22. David says:

    “non-existant” -> non-existent

  23. Nate says:

    Thanks. I fixed some of the other typos while I was there.

  24. BigMac says:

    To add my 2 cents on the communication between systems:

    All ships are governed by the CPJCT and need to follow their rules as I understand it.

    Would it not be feasible that each ship’s systems automatically pick up updates from system 1 outer beacon and transmits it to system 2 outer beacon once it has jumped into system 2.

    Ships are traveling between the systems all the time so the gaps between ship jumps should not be too bad.

    The beacons could communicate quickly within each system via radio or light and the only potential limiting factor would be bandwidth depending on the volume of traffic.

    Message traffic could also be routed across multiple systems this way from one beacon to ship to beacon to ship etc.

    This should be quicker than radio or even a fast packet for that matter.

  25. Jon says:

    I started listening to your books on a car ride with my girlfriend during Thanksgiving. I’ve been hooked since and am currently 3/4 of the way through Captain’s Share. Your books are terrific. Sometimes though, I have a little bit of trouble trying to visualize what all these ships look like. I was wondering if you came up with any sort of sketches or diagrams to help you along when you were writing. And if you do, any chance you could share them with me (and probably many others)?
    Thanks so much.

  26. Nate says:

    @jon – i’ve got sketches. I just need to get them collected and consolidated. It’ll have to wait until I get Owner’s Share done at this point.

  27. Kevin Simmons says:


    I cannot tell you how much I love your books. Listening to you read gets me through the tuff times.

    I had another thought on the long distance COM discussion…..particle entanglement….
    I am sure you have some knowledge in passing on the subject – in theory by the time the story is supposed to be set in particle entanglement base COM should be AT LEAST in an experimental phase. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts along these lines.. it could be a germ for a new story even.

    Save Voyage!

  28. Nate says:

    Remember that this is the frontier. Only the cheapest, most reliable technology is here. People are cheap. Quantum physics is overkill for low-bid contracts.

    But you’re right. A trip to the core worlds might be fun.

  29. Kanein Encanto says:

    I was reading back some of the older posts about having a small drone/probe hopping back and forth between two system as a means of getting data from one system to another quickly.

    I’d think a nice little breakthrough in the Burleson drives at small scales would be in order.

    Yes, I imagine pulling the fabric of space together in a large enough diameter would take an incredible amount of energy that could only be sustained for maybe a few moments, long enough to cross the ‘gap’. But why would it be so hard to tug the fabric if you were say… only going for a diameter just a few centimeters across… enough to allow not radio, but a simple laser to pass across the distance and be received by an identical probe (with its own drive helping sustain the tiny wormhole?) in the second system. Information would still have a bit of a delay on it, especially if you’re at the orbital for the first system, but you at least wouldn’t be completely blind to what are the conditions like in the next systems over…

    Just a thought…

  30. Nate says:

    The issue with that kind of controlled wormhole is the error. You can’t be sure you’re making an opening exactly where you think you are.

    There *may* be some breakthru in the technology … and there could also be some technology that hasn’t made it out to the frontier yet. One never knows about these things.

  31. David Parsons says:

    The series is wonderful.. I am only halfway through Half Share and both the universe and the character of Ishmael are great fun. Out of pure fun I began to make a 3D rough of the Lois McKendrick. I was interested in seeing how I thought the cargo containers would connect to the ships spine and to play with modeling the bow and stern sections. If you had more complete information I would love to integrate that into my rough of the LM!

    Please keep on detailing your universe.. it’s a fine place to play!

  32. Nate says:

    I had a sketch and deck plan posted here, David, but so many people complained that the picture didn’t match the book that I had to take it down until I could redraw it.

    Sorry about that, but it’s not been a high priority here ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Nate,
    I can understand that.. I will persevere in my layout as I go through the books and perhaps you wouldn’t mind if I emailed you with the results? I would love your input at anytime on the Lois McKendrick!

    Thank you again work writing these marvelous stories!

  34. Bruce says:

    The drive is not creating a bubble around the ship since the ship requires headway to transit, so how about a stable platform, asteriod et al. And the breakthrough is lensing a smallish hole. Just big enough to slingshot/railgun a 1-shot transmitter through. If all it has on-board is a power supply, radio and data storage, it could be quite small. Then no matter where it exits +/- 2% it could ‘scream’ its data and just die. Put a receiver about where a normal exit would be to repeat it downstream.

  35. Nate says:


    That’s where we’re going.



  36. Tracy says:

    Just finished owners share, and eagerly await more! I was surprised that books with out any major bad guys, battles, etc, could be so darn engrossing. I bought up through Full Share from amazon, but couldn’t wait and got the rest as audiobooks. I will still buy the rest because talent like yours needs to be supported. I always laugh at your intro because my mind hears “..written in red by Nathan…”

    Now onto communications…I think the biggest problem would be data volume. How much data can you transfer in a few seconds? There are a 120B people across 100’s (1000’s?) of planets. Even just dealing with critical data like alerts, major news, CPJCT critical updates, and the like would amount to an incredible amount of data. Add in business transactions and stock/trade traffic and I think you have more data than you can transmit in the few seconds that you can keep the link open. Maybe on the core worlds where you have really heavy traffic….But I bet it would be really expensive.

  37. Kevin Payne says:

    In re: communications.

    In Cherryh’s Alliance/Union universe, outbound ships head to system zenith to jump, while inbound ships come in at system nadir (or vice versa–in any event the danger of collision is reduced). This allows the placement of informational buoys at just two locations that are then accessed (and fed) by the ships and (in-system) by the orbital stations or whatever authority is in place.

    Basically, every time a ship comes into Neris from Gugara, it does a zip-flash download of the latest news and trading info as soon as it enters the system, which it uploaded just before it jumped from Gugara. It would include not only the Gugara info, but the latest received at the station from other ships inbound to Gugara. Granted, that info was however many light-minutes/hours old at jump but it’s going to be pretty up to date. No need for specialized jump/messenger bots since jump is instantaneous, if trade volume between systems is frequent enough.

    I suspect too that there would be any number of algorithim-based “spec” programs that make predictions based on the latest info available.

    Honestly, as I read about Pip getting the info on trading during the course of Quarter Share, I just assumed what was happening was something similar to Cherryh’s info-buoy system.

  38. Kevin Payne says:

    And now that I’ve made my way through Full Share, I see you’ve addressed these things. That’s what I get for shooting my mouth off before I have all the information!

    Thanks for a great read (so far)! Now to listen to the other three… ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. WintyrBourne says:

    Just out of curiosity, do you think anyone might remember the ancient store and forward data nets of the original usenet and uucp this far into the future? Or is that what Cherryh was thinking of?

  40. The Captain says:

    Good questions!

    I know it’s sort of the basis for the communications in the solar clipper universe.

  41. Greg Muir says:

    The lack of inter-quadrant email is a bit of a puzzler.

    The story isn’t about the technology but the people do the author doesn’t want to make the ship the star. And because of that, the less techno-babble the better because it can only make things worse. I think I caught delta-v used as a substitute for velocity rather than a change in or potential for change in velocity. Little things like that can derail the immersion in the story.

    There are a lot of things in life that are done stupidly for complicated reasons. There are a lot of things done so study you’re surprised there aren’t more deaths. Manually updating the astrogation data seems like implausibly stupid but then again I have a friend who works with data for the financial industry and the incompetence is frightful. So maybe it is plausible.

    What seems less likely is the software engineers back at the design bureau allowing the crew to do anything more than create macros. It sounds like Ish has complete access to the source code and api’s for interfacing with every system on the ship. That doesn’t strike me as likely.

    Having finished the whole series, I’m listening to a new podcast, the Leviathan Chronicles. It’s a full radio play like the Green Hornet with a cast and sound effects and everything. Really impressive except for the writing. At least once every five minutes I keep going “no, that’s not how it works.” They had heat-sensing radar (huh?) and fishing trawlers shooting through harbors like speedboats and using macguyver logic to duct tape two different pieces of kit together and a minor reprogramming of all the control software to add an ROV to a sub with radio controls (???) Radio. Underwater. I can accept a superscience team having kit we’ve never heard of but the stuff from the real world still needs to behave like stuff in the real world.

    Fortunately for the Trelader Tales, very few of the plot complications are overly technical. Most of the difficulties come from people. Technology can change, stories can feel dated if the tech is the star. People don’t change and so long as the human motivations are at the center of the story, it will remain timeless.

  42. Greg Muir says:

    Whoops I see automiscorrect was at work on my last post…

  43. robin says:

    I agree with Greg in that the story is about people.

    but it is still scifi so it seem ok to nitpick about stuff even if it’s not really important to the story.
    so here goes my nitpicking ๐Ÿ˜›

    but I always thought the ships jumping anyway between systems would be a likely cause for the discrepancy.
    perhaps nobody set up an interstellar communications agancy based on how well this worked so far, i mean at the time of the diaspora there probably was no need for constant communication+ the costs were likely too high.

    then when trade exploded that system worked well enough…

    and you can’t get it to work without delays without some additional tech anyway.

    4000 million miles = 357.879583 light minutes
    so it takes about 6 hours for a radio wave to hit the brulson limit and then a another couple of hours/minutes to the ships on the other side if it is instantaneously send from brulson limit to the brulson limit in the next system over.

    if a ship jumps every six hours or so the news bits can easily be send to the next planet with no more than a total delay of 2*6+6/2 = 15 hours.
    if it is instantaneous world to world comm is still going to be 12 hours.
    which is not that big a difference in my opinion

    the only bottleneck I see is bandwidth, if you want to transfer all the worlds peer2peer network traffic to another world you’d have to use quite a bit of bandwidth so you are still limited to what you can transfer to a ship in the time before it jumps.
    you’d want important news and messages to be send with priority so you use each ship’s flight path so the transmission can be timed to have all the latest news bits transmitted 6 hours(plus data transfer time) before the planned jump of one of those ships.

  44. Clyde says:

    I am going to go off on another tangent about the story that always bothered me. The lack of military ships mentioned even causually. Obviously humanity has not given up its chaotic trait, demonstrated by the muggings in the space stations. In the series there are at least two instances of ships overtaking and docking in space. The cargos on board these ships are worth fortunes or shipment just would not economically feasible between worlds.

    In the universe created there would have to be pirates preying on the shipping. So the universe would have to have a military/police presence patrolling to deter any illegal activity. I can understand the desire to elevate humanity above the need for warships but if you have low level thugs mugging, you have high level thugs pirating. In a universe without any deterents, piracy would be commonplace.

  45. The Captain says:

    There are military ships. I referenced the Galactic Marines in the very first chapter of Quarter Share. There’s also references to them in South Coast. The TIC use an enforcement cutter to intercept the Chernyakova. Ishmael has seen them but neither the ships nor their crews frequent the same commercial bases that Ishmael and his crews do. The result is that they’ve never appeared more obviously in the stories.

    Many people believe that piracy is impossible. In order to steal a ship and its cargo, you’d first need to be able to find the ship in the Deep Dark, navigate to it quickly, and intercept it before it can broadcast a warning. While these things are possible, they’re incredibly difficult to do. It’s not so much a question of elevating humanity as it is a matter of physics and practicality.

    The next two series will be dealing with exactly how that doesn’t work … and what people do instead.


  46. Luke says:

    I am slightly disappointed that my round-robin, never-coming-in-system communications drone idea has already been proposed by someone.:) I’ve been toying with that since I read about the ship auction events especially. I thought maybe of something moving between several of the most popular systems a couple times per day, or maybe a subway model (“local” comm packets for each quad, and an “express” that runs between big central hub point systems and feeds/feeds-from the locals). All of which would still be faster than fast packets moving in and out of gravity wells to carry messages.

    As for bandwidth: it is likely that by this point in time, compression ratios for textual data will be quite significantly better than what we have now. Commodity prices, pay-by-KB text/email messages, even tick data for stock markets, for millions of companies, could be carried in a rather low volume of storage even by today’s standards. For example, using a Burrows-Wheeler transform (as used in BZip), which has already been passed by better compression methods, the data for a thousand companies, showing 1-second price action for an 8-hour trading day, would only take up around 147 MB (down from 1.6 GB!, because yes, I tried it). A device the size of my hand can hold, in today’s solid state technology, several thousand times that (2 TB, for example). A normal 3+1 bonded microwave link can transmit at approx. 465 Mb per second (58.12 MB), meaning that my example above would take 2.52 seconds to transmit. A 2 TB packet would take 9.55 hours in this arrangement. There is better microwave bonding tech available today (4+0 systems), but even with a 3+1 system, if you used several (say 10) such links running simultaneously, the transmission should only take 57.35 minutes to complete.
    Seems highly doable.

    I like the idea of a stationary platform using a rail gun to shoot physical communications packets (Thumbdrives to the stars!) through a wormhole. My only real issue with it, is that you would have to do something to destroy or capture them on the other side. Otherwise, you have high-speed objects being sent in-system with no real flight control. Talk about hazard to navigation!:) You might arrange to shoot them so that they are moving out-system instead of in, but still that’s eventually going to be a lot of wasted equipment.

    One nit I will pick: the word diaspora is spelled “Disapora” in the very first paragraph under “Introduction” of this article. [Ed: fixed. Thanks.]

  47. Luke says:


    One thing I’ve never understood, and that has bothered me more on the last rereading.

    So on the way out of a system, kickers or tugs are used to get a ship moving from a (relative) stop at a station. After distance is achieved, magsails
    and a grav keel are used to obtain significant velocity on the outbound vector. After passing through the wormhole (so called by Pip in an early book,
    when he claimed there were “two other wormholes” out of somewhere, when initially describing his “Level one alternatives”), the sails and keel are used
    to slow down back to relative stationary on the other side, in order to dock with a station. (Even though some places–Captain’s Share especially–imply
    that on the incoming leg, the sails are being used to accelerate still, that just can’t possibly be right, so it must be my misunderstanding.)

    Okay, so here’s my question. When going to somewhere like Oden’s Outpost, how does anyone bleed off their speed enough to dock? For that matter, when
    leaving Oden’s, how does anyone build up enough speed so that they have to use the sails to slow down once they get in-system again? There are no stars
    near there, to push away from or to use for breaking.

    All that massive speed has to go to, and come from, somewhere in all of these scenarios that involve between-system spaces like Oden’s. If the kickers
    (on the ship classes that have them) are being used to slow down very fast, or speed up significantly, that would suggest a tremendous usage of fuel,
    and very long (multiple day) burns to compensate for what the sails would have done in constant acceleration over weeks.

    I haven’t read Milk Run yet, so if this question is answered there, then forgive me please and ignore this.

  48. The Captain says:

    You’re spot on, Luke.

    It’s one of the things I need to wrestle with going forward. In systems where there’s a primary, there’s solar wind to slow down.

    In systems there there isn’t? Yeah. That’s a problem. I’m working on a couple of mechanisms that might work…

    Stay tuned.

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