Monday, 23 May 2011

Locks in space?

A question it seems a good time to ask: what's the space travel equivalent of the waterway lock?

It would be more than a simple drive of course, or a faster-than-light portal say, in that it's not about speed, though it might be linked with warping space. It seems more than maneouvring thrusters given we're looking at movement onto another level rather than laterally. It doesn't look related to escape velocity either - that would be pushing off into the stream.

Maybe we just don't have it yet?


CounterFett said...

I sort of figure it would be something like the mass relays from Mass Effect.

Though they are about acceleration (seemingly anyway, the cutscenes could not be called a technical manual), they have the other criteria; making otherwise inaccessible areas reachable, can't be fit on a ship but is a separate installation, etc.

Cronickain said...

Stargates like the ones in Bab 5, SG1 or in the RPG Fading Suns would control access to various destinations throughout the galaxy.

Chris C. said...

If we're talking about making something up for a game, the idea that immediately occurs to me is to have a space travel system based on limited "natural" lines of transit (some sort of pre-existing worm hole etc.), and with man-made "canals" between them (like "sub-space jump tunnels" or something); the "locks" would come into play when some sort of "sub-space obstacle" has to be worked around that the "canal" can't penetrate normally. The imaginary lock might be a long-range transporter / teleporter or some sort of "accelerator."

Porky said...

Mass relays and stargates are reasonable, and the point about them being external is a very good one. For something properly equivalent we might well be looking for infrastructure, or a built feature in space.

Mention of the both of them reminds me again of the portals list, but especially Doctor Who's E-space and 'between' from The Dragonriders of Pern.

That kind of movement into another space might be seen as an equivalent too, and maybe even a movement through another space would count, given the water level in a lock is being raised and lowered, moving vertically at angles it probably wouldn't at any other point on the waterway.

That suggestion in the context of games gets me excited too. The mix of natural and artificial in there does capture the nature of earthbound locks. I also love that idea of an obstacle in space other than distance. What a great concept. One of those familiar anomalies, or something even weirder?

It all makes me think of Riskail too, which has star systems linked by gates on water.

All of this is likely a long way off in our development timeline.

Anonymous said...

A Lock would allow a ship to transfer to higher levels of Hyperspace. The higher the level the shorter the 'distance' to get to where you are going.

Example. 'A' level of hyperspace 1 week to travel 1 light year of true distance

'B' level 1 day per light year

'C' level 1 hour per light year

Modify time/distance scale to taste.

Most ships can only get into the 'A' level, but a lock will allow them to move up to 'B' or 'C' level.

Porky said...

That makes a lot of sense - as far as fiction is concerned at least - and clearly reflects the lock idea. It could also be combined with Bard's idea of overcoming obstacles to suggest travel through increasingly rarified or disconnected spaces.

Plenty to think about in all of this - I'm very glad I asked!