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List of hyperspace depictions in science fiction

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Hyperspace transportation has been used by a great number of Science Fiction stories, televising broadcasts, films, and video & computer games. This list is a collection of various depictions of in-franchise depictions of fictional Hyperspace technology. Hyperspace and subspace are both extra Spacial Dimensions which have been used in fiction to explain how communication and transport can happen in reasonable lengths of time while crossing the vast distances of outer space.

Albedo: Erma Felna[edit]

In the science fiction anthropomorphic comic book series by Steve Gallacci (1983–2005), starships use a hyperspace drive that translates the vessel into a parallel universe where distances are vastly shorter. The hazard of this usage being that matter in the parallel universe cannot exist above the most basic elements and most physical mass sent into the hyperspace dimension begins to decay. Thus a jump must be very short or the crew risks exposure to intense levels of radiation from themselves and the ship and must take a period after each jump to recover. During wartime though a ship may be forced to make several jumps in quick succession, or one longer jump which puts the crews health at increasing risk of radiation poisoning. One entry mentions a ship exploding in a nuclear burst upon re-entry into normal space after a dangerous long distance jump. Other ships never return from hyperspace and are assumed to have disintegrated.


In the science fiction book series Animorphs, written by K.A. Applegate, hyperspace is called zero-space (z-space) and is a white nothingness in which nothing exists, not even the stray molecules in real-space. Zero-space is another universe almost, and in z-space the normal laws of physics do not apply so you can easily travel faster-than-light (FTL). Hyperspace travel is called z-space travel and ships use z-space engines to achieve FTL travel. Zero space is also used to store the extra mass when someone is morphing into something smaller than themselves (such as an ant), and is used to hold the matter drawn from when they morph into something bigger than themselves (e.g. an elephant). It was wrongly thought by Andalite scientists that, in z-space, matter extruded by a person morphing was stored in a blob of matter, but, in fact the matter is stored like their normal selves and they can extremely rarely "hop" between their smaller morphs and their bodies in z-space. If a ship passes too close the person will either, a) "hop" from their morph to their extra mass in z-space and get pulled towards the ship or b) more likely get disintegrated by the ship's shields. Andalites, Yeerks, and Pemalites alike all use z-space as a means of travel and communication.

Asimov's Hyperspace[edit]

Foundation Series[edit]

Hyperspace seems to enable teleportation on a pre-calculated route, the ends of which are in normal space. The hyperdrive was created form an idea originating from The Brain.

The collection of more and more data on stellar systems and the analysis of stellar spectra allows the compilation of what becomes the Standard Galactic Ephemeris, with hyperspace navigation becomes less of an art and more of a science. [1] Before the Galactic Empire Collapsed, Hyperspace jump calculations were still preformed manually. [2] This continued until the fall of the Empire, after which the calculations were completely automated by computer. [3]

In Foundation's Edge Hyperspace is defined as a condition allowing the translation of objects as a phased tachyon wave, which once collapsed restores the objects to their meson composition instantaneously. This is supposed to happen with a minimum of energy expenditure. All velocity is zero, Relative to the Einstein metrical frame, however, speed is infinite. Perturbations such as those experienced by ship in space from the gravitational field around an object such as a planet or even a star are exacerbated in hyperspatial travel, since mass in real space distorts hyperspace in an equal measure. 'Jumping' near to a gravitational mass is likely to make the resulting exit from hyperspace to be highly uncertain, with the level of improbability decreasing as the inverse square of the distance to the nearest gravitational 'well'. While it is necessary for a ship to have nuclear engine to produce the hyperspace drive field to hurl a vessel through hyperspace, nearly all of the energy expended is recovered as the hyper field collapses. [3]


In Nemesis, the space colony Rotor uses hyper-assistance to travel at speeds hovering around the speed of light, transitioning in and out of hyperspace. Also in Nemesis, a group of explorers use a spacecraft named the Superluminal to travel faster than light to a nearby star system by means of moving into and out of hyperspace. During the voyage, the captain of the spacecraft discusses that during the transition into and out of hyperspace, for a fraction of a second, part of the vessel is in regular spacetime and the other part is in hyperspace, possibly, but rarely, resulting in grave danger. A scientist on the Superluminal determines that in hyperspace gravity acts as a repellent force rather than as an attractive one. [4]

Babylon 5[edit]

In Babylon 5 hyperspace is treated as an alternative dimension where the distances between spatial bodies are significantly shorter. The primary energy expenditure in hyperspace travel is the act of "jumping" into hyperspace. While in hyperspace itself, ships use their normal propulsion systems and interstellar travel is enabled by the shortened distances. Ships must either use jumpgates, which are artificial constructions that create a rift into hyperspace, or they can use their own jump-engine. The latter is almost entirely restricted to very large vessels, as opening a rift requires a staggering amount of power. Jump gates are used even by large vessels whenever possible, to save energy. The only small starships that can open jumppoints are Vorlon vessels, and the Vorlon-enhanced White Star ships.

Hyperspace in Babylon 5 is devoid of useful features, with no points of reference. Therefore, ships have to use the hyperspace beacon system — a network of transmitters located in known points in realspace (usually jumpgates) – in order to navigate. If a ship travels off the beacon network, it will become lost in hyperspace. Babylon 5 is slightly unusual in that ships in hyperspace require no energy fields to protect themselves, so an object (ship, device) that becomes lost in hyperspace can theoretically drift forever, and be rediscovered millennia later (this has been used as a plot point). Hyperspace also has currents, which will pull a disabled ship off the beacon network in a relatively short period.

While the hyperspace background appears to the human eye to be a reddish/black, stormy environment in the TV series, this is inconsistent with Babylon 5 science stated elsewhere. The Technomage Trilogy states that hyperspace should have no color or other visual aspects. According to the trilogy, it has yet to be determined why the naked eye sees anything at all in hyperspace.

Hyperspace has strong boosting effects on those with psionic powers, and allowed the PsiCorps to station their mothership far off the beacons to remain hidden without getting lost.

A jump point allowing entry into hyperspace from normal space is characterized by a yellow-orange-red whirlpool, while jump points for ships emerging from hyperspace are characterized by a blue whirlpool. This is a result of the red shift of the light's wavelength moving away from the observer as the portal is opened into hyperspace and the blue shift of the light's wavelength moving towards the observer as the portal is opened from hyperspace.[5] However, there seems to be multiple ways to enter and exit hyperspace as Shadow vessels are seen entering and exiting by appearing to simply fade away, and some of the other First Ones have other visual effects associated with hyperspace travel – assuming they use hyperspace at all.

Battles in hyperspace are infrequent and avoided; it appears that most such battles in history have ended disastrously for both sides.

Jumpgates in Babylon 5 can be opened in gravity wells and even atmospheres, although this is extremely dangerous due to the jumpgate quickly destabilizing with all the gas being sucked in and violently exploding. Even worse is to form a red jumpgate inside a blue jumpgate, as the resulting shockwave can destroy even a Shadow battleship if caught unaware, and few ships capable of generating a jumpgate are capable of outrunning the shockwave as well. (also known as The Bonehead Maneuver)

In the Babylon 5 fictional history, Earth acquired hyperspace technology from the Centauri who allowed humans use of their pre-existing jump gates. Earth used these already established jumpgates to explore the galaxy, and presumably later researched the ability to build their own jumpgates. By the 23rd century, larger Earth ships have the ability to create their own jump point without the use of a jump gate. No specific metric has ever been given to exact hyperspace distances in the Babylon 5 universe, and series creator Straczynski has stated on at least one occasion that distances are not linear.[citation needed]

The Vorlons were able to take a piece of hyperspace and fold it onto itself like a pocket and use it as a hiding place (anything inside the pocket is apparently almost invisible to sensors and the naked eye).

In the spinoff series Crusade, there is a scene where the crew of the Excalibur encounter several large jellyfish-like entities in hyperspace, resulting in one of the aliens attempting to mate with the ship. Constructs can also be established in hyperspace to serve as "hiding places" like in "The Well of Forever".

In Babylon 5: The Lost Tales – Voices in the Dark "quantum space" is introduced, which allows travel which is twice as fast, but causes disorientation when entering. It is leftover Vorlon technology.

Battlestar Galactica (2003)[edit]

In Battlestar Galactica outer space travel is facilitated by a FTL Jump Drive. The drive spools up; takes time to charge for a jump. [6] Jumps are instantaneous and are show in the series as a ship being engulfed in a bust of light. [7] Jumps can be to any position in space. The limitation of the FTL Drive is that trajectory calculation are very complex. Due to this limitation, multiple jumps to allow for position recalculation and to avoid the potential to jump into a solid mass at the target coordinates. [8] The danger of FTL travel is increased when trajectory calculations are less accurate, as jumping with such calculations is more likely to result in materializing in solid matter or a ship getting lost off course. [9]

In the miniseries, some crew members are shown reacting with disorientation when undergoing a jump, though no lasting harm is inflicted as a side effect.

The Culture[edit]

In Consider Phlebas hyperspace is described, as viewed from a ship, as a "vast and glittering ocean seen from a great height. The sun burning on a billion tiny wavelets."[citation needed] Having a smooth black blanket of cloud, suspended high above the ocean. The reader is then told to keep the sparkle of the sea despite the fact that there is no Sun. The cloud is then described as having "many sharp and tiny lights, scattered on the base of the inky overcast like glinting eyes: some singular some in pairs, or in larger groups".[citation needed] Ships travel through hyperspace by using traction with hyperspace wave irregularities. The sparkles on the ocean are the ships' source of power, while the sharp lights on the cloud are stars. Black holes are described as resembling water spouts.[citation needed] Only in dire circumstances will ships attempt Navigating hyperspace in a gravity well, as it is considered extremely difficult and dangerous.[citation needed]


A different depiction of hyperspace travel is found in Frank Herbert's novel Dune (1965) and its sequels. In the Dune setting, space is "folded" using a complicated distortion technology. Travel is nearly instantaneous but very dangerous because of the extremely complex calculations required, compounded by the fact that computers are forbidden by religious decree. There are no personal ships capable of hyperspace travel in the universe of Dune; the Spacing Guild performs all hyperspace travel using their heighliners equipped with Holtzman drives. This monopoly gives the Guild great power.

The Guild's Navigators megadose on the addictive substance melange, found only on the planet Arrakis. Melange's unique properties enhance human prescience and allow the Navigators to find a safe path through space, although in such large amounts it also physically mutates the Navigators. The vast majority of humans are born without any ability to become Navigators. The power granted to whoever in the universe controls Arrakis and its melange is an ongoing theme of the series.

How the spacetravel was done before the melange is explained in the 'Legends of Dune' trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The trilogy describes the time shortly before and during the discovery of space-folding. In these works the discovery of space-folding is attributed to Norma Cenva, who goes on to become the first prescient folded space navigator. Prior to this, although described in 'The Machine Crusade' as "outracing photons", vessels still took weeks or months to cross between even the closest stars.


In the Farscape series (1999–2003), the Leviathan (living ship) Moya has a natural ability known as 'Starburst' which allows it and anything close to it to travel great distances in a short amount of time. Starburst depletes a Leviathan's energy and thus cannot be used frequently. It has been said that during Starburst the ship is "riding the seams between universes".

Another travel technology that forms an important plot thread is wormhole travel, which few races master.

Generic FTL technology is called "Hetch drive" but is never stated how it works, Hetch apparently being some equivalent of "c", different factors of Hetch are mentioned (Hetch 5). On one episode it's stated that Einstein was wrong because the Hetch drive defies the theory of relativity every time it's used.

FreeSpace universe[edit]

An alternative plane enabling FTL travel in the FreeSpace universe is called Subspace. Two types of jumps are possible. First, an intrasystem jump can occur between two points in a star system. Most small, space-faring vessels are equipped with motivators capable of these short jumps. The presence of an intense gravitational field is required, prohibiting travel beyond the boundaries of a star system. Second, ships can jump from system to system via naturally formed Subspace Nodes, connecting systems in a weblike node network. The vast majority of subspace nodes are extremely unstable, forming and dissipating in nanoseconds. Other nodes have a longer lifespan, existing for centuries or millennia before collapsing. The jump nodes sanctioned by the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance for interstellar travel are expected to remain stable for many years. Intersystem jumps (through subspace) represent a very quick method of travel; journeys that would take years – or even centuries – at light speed are only a matter of hours or days when travelling via subspace, although it's not clear exactly how long they take.

Elite and Frontier Developments universe[edit]

In the video game Elite (1984), written by David Braben and Ian Bell, travel between different star systems is accomplished by entering a realm called Witchspace. Travel is instantaneous but there is risk of the jump being intercepted by a malicious race of aliens called Thargoids who have the ability to hover in witchspace and force the player into combat. This could lead to the player being left stranded with not enough fuel to complete the witchspace jump they had initiated.

Frontier: Elite II (1993) and First Encounters (1995) depicts a rather classic type of hyperspace: traversing several light years through hyperspace jumps takes days or weeks, depending on the type of vessel and hyperdrive. For the player, this time passes instantaneously. The jumps consume fuel in direct proportion to the distance traveled and the (empty) mass of the vessel. The destination is always some distance away from large masses in the target star system – in systems of one medium-sized star (such as Sol), typically around 10 astronomical units; more in systems with a large white star or multiple stars.

A hyperspace cloud is created in the entry and exit points. These can be analyzed by those wishing to intercept and destroy the jumping ship, as a faster ship can reach the destination sooner. Sometimes, more often with engines that have not been maintained properly, mis-jumps occur, which leave the player in interstellar space, where the ship will be forever stranded if sufficient fuel to reach a star system is not available (sub-light drive cannot be used to reach nearby stars, even if this were physically feasible).

Due to the danger of mutations caused by the powerful engines, hyperspace jumps are impossible (due to built-in restrictions in the engines) near large populations (around 15 kilometers from an inhabited planet's surface or any large space station).

In Elite Dangerous (2014) by David Braben's indie software company, Frontier Developments, the hyperspace method remains mostly faithful to the previous two incarnations of Elite. In Elite Dangerous the hyperspace engine is called a frame shift drive and jumps always exit within a few light-seconds of the largest astronomical body in the target system. This would usually be a main sequence star but in some star systems, exit points can be around neutron stars or even black holes. The frame shift drive can also be used locally within a system for FTL travel. In this mode, called supercruise, the engine accelerates the ship in a normal way, up to 2000 c.[10]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy[edit]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opens with the destruction of the planet Earth to "make way for a hyperspace bypass".[citation needed] A ship travels for a short time along a bypass through an alternative dimension and emerges at its destination. The sensation of hyperspace travel is described by Ford Prefect as "unpleasantly like being drunk".[citation needed] The experience of hyperspace travel is further described in narrative:

[citation needed]

Hyperspace is not considered a desirable mode of transit. In the novel, other technologies have been developed to do "without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace".[citation needed]

Instrumentality of Mankind series[edit]

In the Instrumentality of Mankind future history series by Cordwainer Smith (written in the 1950s and 1960s), FTL travel can be accomplished through a hyperspace known as Space2.


The invention and development of the Planoform drive was the turning point of the Interstellar Instrumentality of Mankind and its one direct competitor (though generally similar governmental form), The Bright Empire (which the Instrumentality eventually defeated).

From its name, and subsequent use, a number of different facts can be ascertained about the Planoform drive, and its operation.

  • The Planoform drive unit 'collapses' spacetime from its conventional 4-dimensional form into 3 dimensions. As time is considered a constant of experience, effectively space 'loses' a dimension.
  • The Planoform ship has two modes of operation: Go and Stop. The Stop Captain is responsible for turning the power on and off for the ship. The Go Captain navigates through Planoform space by interpreting the stellar patterns captured by sensors during a Planoform space-fold.
  • During the Space Fold, the view forward of the ship 'collapses' as Third Dimension of Space, Depth, is subtracted. The Go-Captain is thus able to direct the ship by picking (much as user picks a point on a computer screen with a mouse pointer) the course of the ship. In the manner of star charts, he uses what are known as Lock Sheets.
  • The Planoform clearly operates by meson-tachyon inversion[citation needed]. Ships that imperfectly Planoform are said to 'Go Milky' and disappear from loss of molecular cohesion.

Planoform devices are not very large; the Lord Crudelta uses 54 of them, operating in parallel, to lift a planoforming platform the size of Cape Canaveral Space Centre's Pad 34B during investigation of Space3. This implies a diameter of no more than about 50 cm.

Planoform ships can take any form. Initially ships were converted from standard interstellar ships of the enclosed hull type. Later, with the advent of Pinlighter controlled Cats (The Game of Rat and Dragon, see the chapter on History below), Planoform ships took on more fanciful forms. An example vessel at the Instrumentality's zenith of power, 4000 years before The Rediscovery of Man, was shaped like the countryside surrounding, and including the peak of, Mount Vernon. The passengers lived in houses on the ship, with an envelope of air held in place by gravitational force fields. The ship crew quarters and maintenance machinery were housed within the artificial peak.


The first transition of Space3 was by Artyr Rambo of Earth 4. He was driven by intense rage (a survival trait necessary for the experiment) by the Lord Crudelta. Transition across 68000 light years was instantaneous, and did not require any technology. Space3 is a further contraction of space from 3 co-ordinates into just 2. Thus all space is a point, and travel is merely a condition.

Planoform devices are necessary for a man to traverse Space3, operating in tandem as Space3 is entered. However, there are side-effects to moving through space in this way, which affect the traveler, dependent on the emotional charge necessary for transit. These include:

  • The Drunkboat Effect, named in reference to Rambo's description of the first transit. The traveler's nervous system is able to interface with electric and electronic circuitry directly, and effect changes through volition. This effect wears away with time.
  • Space Energy Re-radiation: in Transiting the space condition, powerful and strange energies are re-radiated from the traveler. These can have potent effects on materials, permitting a man of ordinary strength to warp and bend steel with hand-pressure alone. These are second-order effects of the Drunkboat effect.
  • Paralysis and pain were later counter-acted, but unprepared travelers would otherwise experience this if not suitably prepared pre-transit.

History of interstellar space[edit]

During the early eras of interstellar travel, crossing open space far from a star presented an incomprehensible danger: ordinary lifeforms, even protected within a hull environment, would die horribly for no apparent cause. Initially, this danger was met with the creation of the Habermen (humans, usually criminals, given cyborg modifications which removed their self-identity) and the Scanners (elite volunteers who underwent a modified form of the Haberman process and served as ship's officers), who could survive this unknown threat unharmed, at the cost of losing most of their senses other than sight. They would crew STL light sail ships, while the passengers were kept in suspended animation. Later it was determined that, if a large number of living organisms (clams, specifically) were used as a "living shield", organisms further inward could survive unharmed.

With the discovery of Space2 and the "planoform" drive, the cause of this mysterious threat was finally determined: living entities, sometimes referred to as "dragons", which existed in Space2 and fed on life energies. Since these creatures were disrupted and killed by bright physical light, they avoided the areas near stars. Thus, the practice of "pinlighting" developed: ships would be accompanied by smaller vessels piloted by genetically engineered telepathic housecats, who, guided by human telepaths aboard the ships, would attack the creatures (which they perceived as enormous rats) with miniature nuclear flares.

Aside from this, and the strange effects of the first attempts to travel through Space2 (and later, Space3), little is known about the planoform drive.

Known Space[edit]

The Known Space series by Larry Niven was first introduced in the short story "The Coldest Place" (1964) with ftl travel first mentioned in the novel The World of Ptavvs (1965). Hyperspace, accessible to ships equipped with a hyperdrive, is a dimension in which all objects apparently move at the rate of one light year in three terrestrial days. Later, in the short story At the Core (1966), an alien race called the Pierson's Puppeteers develop the Quantum II hyperdrive which is capable of travelling a light year every 75 seconds. As a publicity stunt to attract investors, they hire a human to pilot the prototype to the galactic core.

Prevailing theories hold that attempting to engage a hyperspace shunt within the gravity well of a sufficiently large celestial body causes the drive (and possibly the ship) to careen wildly into an even "higher" level of hyperspace, which cannot be reached normally and is thought to cause matter within the hyperspace field to disintegrate (though Niven revised this in a later work, Ringworld's Children; according to the new model, other-dimensional entities which exist near large masses consume ships which enter hyperspace in their vicinity). Because of this, the only species known to have developed hyperspace on their own are the Outsiders, a species whose superfluid helium based physiology makes them more readily able and inclined to perform experiments in interstellar space.

While travelling through hyperspace, any attempt to view anything outside the ship, through a porthole or, as in the short story "Flatlander" (1967), through a transparent hull, interacts with the human optic nerve such as to be perceived as a "blind spot". This effect is extremely unnerving to most people, and prolonged viewing can lead to madness.

(In this connection in "Combing Back Through Time" by Mike Atkinson, a 2006 "hard-sf" novella, quite the opposite visual outcome – albeit a recording – is had by the 360 degree view that a front-mounted camera has, from a probe within a described "interspace" employed in fourth-dimensional movement or time travel.)

Macross and Robotech[edit]

In the universe of Macross and Robotech, first introduced by the TV series Chou Jikuu Yousai Macross (1982), hyperspace travel also involves the notion of space folding. Hyperspace folding involves a large hyperspace bubble around the vessel travelling through hyperspace. Everything within this bubble is transported along with the vessel itself to its destination. Thus when Captain Global/Gloval is forced into making a hyperspace fold from close to the surface of the earth and fold into behind the moon, an entire island, its sea, and its inhabitants are caught in the hyperspace bubble and accidentally transported to near Pluto's orbit along with the SDF-1 Macross. Elsewhere in the series, space folds looks as if the ship turns into a beam of energy which disappears as the ship goes into spacefold. The same happened in the 1994 Macross 7 TV series. In other entries in the Macross franchise, spacefolding seems to be a bit more conventional. For instance, in Macross Plus, Isamu Dyson and Yang Neumann travel to Earth in a Variable fighter modified with a space fold drive. There, the fold process seems to look like an iridescent tunnel which the ship flies through. More recently on the franchise's TV series Macross Frontier (2008) and Macross Delta (2016) the spacefolding process drastically changed, now the vessels pass to hyperspace through a "fold portal" that remains open for some time, once in hyperspace, this resembles a "tunnel" semitransparent of light, through which you can see the stars passing at speed, this tunnel of purple and blue tones appears to be infinitely long, with some visible layers or sections, yet the ships still have a bubble of energy around.

Mass Effect[edit]

In the Mass Effect games universe, there are two ways to move in supraluminal speed.

The FTL flight (Faster Than Light), is possible in spacecraft equipped with a "warp core" and the use of element zero. The quantitative requirements may vary, depending on the mass of the vessel, and the desired velocity. To equip a high-mass ship so it can reach these speeds is extraordinarily expensive. They allow the decrease of mass, exceeding the speed of light within the gravitational field generated. This method also allows for low time dilatation.

If the gravitational field yields on a supraluminal speed, the disaster is inevitable: the ship brutally backs on a subluminal speed and the large excess of energy gives rise to a fatal Vavilov-Tcherenkov effect. The motors can operate during 50 hours on average before they reach their saturation point. This limit varies in function of the mass reduction amplitude: a heavier or faster ship will reach its saturation point quickly.

The Mass Relays, they are attributed to the Protheans, a race who had reign on the galaxy 50,000 years ago. They form the Relays Network which allows to travel instantly in any sector of the Milky Way.

A relay creates a corridor without gravity to another relay, allowing an instant travel between the two, faster than the FTL flight which would take years or centuries to travel in such distances.

There are the principal relays allow to travel thousands of light-years, but only in the direction of their "twin" relay. Secondary relays allow to travel only up to hundreds of light-years, but to any other relay in their range.

H. Beam Piper[edit]

In all of Piper's novels that employ spacecraft, the ships that travel between stars do so in hyperspace. His hyperdrive works by creating a field that puts the ship into hyperspace, where the ships travel at a constant speed of one light-year per hour. Hyperspace navigators refer to distances between planetary systems by the number of hours required in hyperspace to transit between them. Humans suffer no ill effects from entering or leaving hyperspace. Ships cannot see or communicate with each other while in hyper, nor can they be detected in normal space until they emerge back into normal space. There is no time distortion in Piper's version of hyperspace.

Perry Rhodan[edit]

The Perry Rhodan series of books (1961 onward) approaches hyperspace in two ways: At first we see 5-dimensional jumps. This was the way to travel through space with FTL technology, and it could be described in the same words as that of Asimov's Hyperspace. The passengers suffered pain and distress after each jump. However, unlike Asimovian Hyperspace, the Hyperspace is explained through the 5 dimensional space-time, where the 4th dimension is the normal time and the 5th dimension is the variable existence of time, and with the help of the manipulation of this space-time all factors of time for the travel is eliminated. The second hyperspace technique is called superlinear technology, learned from the phenomena seen by Arconids during the war against the "Druufs"; after five decades of research, human scientists surrounded ships with a "Kalupian bubble" in which it was possible to see Einstein's normal space, but not to be seen by sensors or scanners. Superlinear flights occurred in a "libration region" between the fourth and fifth dimensions. This allowed the ships to achieve velocities thousands or even millions of times greater than that of light.

Thousands of years later, humanity is spread along the many star systems. Then a new third kind of propulsion is developed with the name "dimmesexta", using extragalactic technology, and achieving billions of times light speed. Dimmesexta consists in a kind of hyperfast travel, through a zone existing exclusively between the fifth and sixth dimensions. The only Terran ship able to use dimmesexta drives is the supergiant ship "MarcoPolo".

A fourth description of hyperspace comes from the matter transmitters. This equipment acted as portals or stargates, with different ranges, proportional to the energy available, allowing travel among the planets of a single system.

Redshift Rendezvous[edit]

In Redshift Rendezvous (1990) by John E. Stith hyperspace is a layer of space in which the speed of light is ten meters per second. People aboard a passenger craft in this region experience relativistic effects in daily life. Flick a light switch and the room slowly fills with light. Run, and you can create sonic booms. People behind you see you red-shifted.

Saga of the Skolian Empire[edit]

In the Skolian Empire series by Dr Catherine Asaro, there are two methods. The first method, Inversion, is used by ships moving at relativistic speeds. Instead of breaking the barrier of the speed of light, spaceships in Primary Inversion go around it. By adding an imaginary component to their velocity, or "inverting", they enter a superluminal universe, allowing for near-instantaneous travel. However, because the ship must come close to the speed of light to invert, travel still takes time. In addition, various space-time calculation errors add complications. The Skolians' military advantage is due to the pilots ability to communicate with technology induced "telepathy" while in inversion and arrive in tight formation from inversion. This communication is through a rip in space-time, called a Kyle Singularity, allowing FTL communication across the separate medium of Kyle Space (also known informally as 'psiberspace')

"Complex Speeds and Special Relativity"[edit]

In 1996, Asaro published a paper in the American Journal of Physics called "Complex Speeds and Special Relativity" that gives the mathematical formulation she developed for the fictional star drive used in Primary Inversion. Describing the idea as a "mathematical game", she shows how making the speed a complex number can remove the problems associated with the singularity at the speed of light.[11][12][13]

Sins of a Solar Empire[edit]

In the game Sins of a Solar Empire the most popular way of achieving FTL is by Phase Drive, sometimes called Jump Drive.[citation needed] The drive's mechanism is undescribed, but what is known is that the ship is enveloped in a cone of cobalt-blue light, travels along a set highway, called a "Phase Lane", and the ships travel through an alternative dimension called "Phase Space", but must be far enough away from a significant gravity well to enter.[citation needed]

There is a defense station called Phase Inhibitor which stop Phase Drives from working efficiently. In combat, Phave Inhiitors can be used to preventing a retreat.

The Vasari Phase Stabilizer Node structure allows ships to travel between nodes as if there were a Phase Lane connecting the systems. Phasic Barriers can block FTL transport to certain areas of space, allowing a slight tachital advantage.

Star Control II[edit]

In the video game Star Control II (1992), hyperspace is depicted as a different plane of existence that provides the means of feasible interstellar travel. Entering Hyperspace requires propulsion be made to the edges of the solar system away from the star's mass. Inside of hyperspace these same stars are represented as gravity wells (or holes in the hyperspace), which suck the ship into normal space when entering it too close. Enemy vessels also generate gravity wells of a much smaller size, resulting in spacefaring civilizations being able to establish territory and patrol it even from ships in hyperspace. The physical laws of hyperspace travel are slightly different from those of travel in normal space: the ship travelling in hyperspace must continuously provide its own propulsion, or the vessel simply stops (in normal space, propulsion is only needed to change the course and Newtonian physics means that once thrust is applied, it will continue in that direction). Hyperspace is represented as a red foggy area with strange artifacts seen moving and twinkling in the 'distance'.

Note that many of the same properties (though not the red colour) are reflected in Starflight (1986), a game which heavily influenced Star Control II.

Star Control II also has another plane of existence known as QuasiSpace. More difficult to access, the access points in quasispace lead into several different (predetermined) locations in hyperspace. One interesting fact is that the ship does not consume any fuel at all while traveling inside QuasiSpace. Whereas hyperspace is depicted in redness, quasispace appears a harsh green with a negativity effect on objects. One alien race, the Arilou, has a planet which can only be reached through QuasiSpace, while another alien race, the Orz, are rumored to be able to enter and swim through QuasiSpace. There are also hints that the Orz can exist in yet another dimension, with QuasiSpace being "above" and this other dimension being "below".

Star Trek[edit]

In Star Trek the term subspace is used in place of hyperspace. In Star Trek the term hyperspace is mentioned specifically in only two places. First in Next Generation's episode Coming of Age is a hyperspace physics test part of Starfleet Academy entrance exam, and second, in the episode Conspiracy, Geordi tells Data a joke with the punchline "just try that in hyperspace!".

The term "hyper-subspace", which was used in Voyager in connection to some kind of advanced communication technology. [14]

Star Wars[edit]

Star Wars has one of the most significant depictions of hyperspace. It was once unknown if it was a parallel dimension or only a metaphor for traveling at the speed of light in "realspace" (the normal dimension), as starships that travel into it can be influenced by realspace agents, but can bypass walls and deflector shields. In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it was established that a ship traveling at light speed can crash into a squadron of realspace ships, severely damaging them.

The role-playing video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) gives one of the more substantial explanations of how hyperspace travel works in the Star Wars universe. There are established safe hyperspace routes that were scouted out by an unknown species in 30000 BBY (30000 years prior to the events in the 1977 film Star Wars). These routes made interstellar trade and eventually the establishment of the Republic possible. New routes are almost never scouted out, mostly because the end coordinates might place the traveling ship inside some star or planet. For example, the Deep Core Systems are especially hard to navigate because of the high density of stars. A pilot's skill in hyperspace has a lot to do with how he navigates the tangled web of hyperspace routes that crisscross the galaxy.

Traveling through hyperspace requires the aid of either an astromech droid (such as R2-D2 or R4-P9) or a navicomputer (navigational computer), although Jedi are sometimes reputed to be able to travel through hyperspace without reference to navicomputers, astromech droids, or existing known routes. Traveling through hyperspace is also apparently quite complex as Han Solo tells Luke Skywalker that "It ain't like dustin' crops, boy".

In any case, hyperspace is an extremely fast method of travel, as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke's journey from Tatooine to Alderaan is theorized to have only taken two days maximum, whereas these two planets are separated by half a galaxy or more. Darth Maul took approximately seven hours to travel from Coruscant to Tatooine. The movies, as well as multiple Expanded Universe sources, show hyperspace as having a mottled, blue-and-black appearance. An entry into hyperspace shows the stars stretch into starlines, then turn into the mottled appearance. Externally, a ship entering hyperspace is described in Timothy Zahn's novels as displaying a "...flicker of pseudomotion..." before disappearing. Like the above-mentioned Star Trek series, "holocomm" transmissions are featured in Star Wars as long-range, faster-than-light communications signals, sent through hyperspace.

The hyperspace speed of a ship is represented by "class," an arbitrary and abstract measure. Lower numbers indicate proportionally lower travel time, and thus higher speed. For instance, an X-wing starfighter is class 1. The Death Star is class 3, which means it can travel through hyperspace only one-third as fast as the X-Wing. A more standard capital ship such as a Star Destroyer may clock in at class 2, and a civilian bulk freighter at class 4. Very fast ships, with class lower than 1, are relatively rare; the remarkably speedy Millennium Falcon is class 0.5, or twice as fast as the X-Wing. The Ebon Hawk, the primary ship used in the Knights of the Old Republic series, is said to be the fastest in the galaxy, 4000 years prior to the rise of the Empire. However, at that time, hyperdrive technology was not as well-developed; a class 1 hyperdrive, the Ebon Hawk′s class, was considered extremely fast. It is stated that it is the only ship capable of breaking the Sith-blockade of the planet Taris (although that may be interpreted as the only ship that was capable and also located on Taris at the time of the blockade). Similarly, the Ebon Hawk was used for smuggling prior to the events of the games, just as the Millennium Falcon.

Mass shadows[edit]

Within the Star Wars universe, ships can be prevented from entering hyperspace, as well as removed from it, by way of mass shadows. Existing in hyperspace, mass shadows are the hyperspace signatures created by gravity wells of large objects existing in normal space. Mass shadows occur naturally, caused by the gravity wells of large celestial bodies such as, planets, stars, or gas giants. Smaller objects (e.g., comets) may also cause mass shadows to occur. Due to their nature, mass shadows can potentially cause the threat of collision if a ship were to drop out of hyperspace and impact with the associated object. This is why hyperdrive engines include a failsafe mechanism to return the ship to realspace when encountering such a gravity well.[15]

Artificial gravity wells can be produced by gravity well projectors, known as an interdiction field, and can disable hyperspace maneuvers – preventing or removing ships from traveling in hyperspace. The Interdictor-class Star Destroyer of vessels employed by the Galactic Empire are equipped with technology to generate gravity wells and are leveraged by the Empire to disable Rebel ships attempting hyperspace travel. The Interdictor-class cruiser was previously featured as part of the Star Wars expanded universe (SWEU) and declared non-canon with the rebranding of SWEU to "Star Wars Legends". However, they have since been restored after being featured in novels part of the new continuity.[16]

An Interdictor-class cruiser-like spacecraft, the Imperial Interdictor, is also seen in Star Wars Rebels and it captures from hyperspace a Rebel starship.


"Sub-hyperspace", in the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is the term used by First Order officers to identify the hyperspace-like region in realspace in which the "phantom energy" shot from Starkiller Base travels. The novel also explains that the energy (derived from a kind of dark energy known as "quintessence") is visible by characters on planet Takodana due to a strange rip in sub-hyperspace.


In the video game franchise Starcraft, all the main races Protoss, Terran, Zerg and Xel'Naga could travel by warp space. The Xel'Naga and a tribe of Protoss called Dark Templar could travel by means of the void, which is a mysterious cosmic phenomenon.

The race of Protoss is very advanced with warping and can warp entire buildings, spacecrafts and individual Protoss beings. The protoss also use an advanced form of warping called Mass Recall which defies dimensions to summon entire armies or fleets; however, this uses much of their energy reserves.

The Terrans use warp drives in their spacecrafts, which allow faster-than-light travel.

The Zerg race could faster-than-light travel through space in Behemoths and Leviathans, colossal creatures that were used by the Zerg as space vessels. The leaders of the Zerg, The Overmind and The Queen of Blades were immensely powerful psionic beings that could open warp rifts which allowed accurate instantaneous travel.

The Xel'Naga race had advanced technology that allowed them to warp travel. Their Warp Gates allowed instantaneous travel between two points in the universe and thus could travel to distant galaxies.


In the Stargate franchise, most spaceships are equipped with hyperspace drives, abbreviated as hyperdrive, that open up, what is described as, a window to hyperspace. Hyperspace windows are temporary portals that allow a spaceship to enter hyperspace. On several occasions in SGA and in SG-1, more than one ship or object is able enter a hyperspace window once it is opened. This is some times used as an evasive maneuver to avoid interacting with matter in normal outer space or can be used by ships to stow away in hyperspace by entering a window that another ship has opened. [17] [18] [19] Hyperspace windows are usually opened for a hand full of seconds, just enough time to "jump" into hyperspace, as it is refereed to in the show. [20]

Each technologically advanced race in Stargate has their own variation of hyperdrive. In Stargate, hyperdirves operate a specific frequency used when entering hyperspace. The frequency used is instrumental in entering hyperspace. Imagine layers of space organized like radio waves. Preexisting instabilities in the area of hyperspace associated with a given hyperspace frequency used by a drive can cause ships to be destroyed when attempting to enter a hyperspace window. Stargate wormholes are also subject to hyperspace interference. Hyperspace interference can cause stargates to overload and explode. [21] Races' hyperderive technology also differs in operating efficiency, how long a ship can remain in hyperspace, how quickly a ship can travel in hyperspace, and power source. Upgrading a ships power source, for example with a ZPM, can greatly improve a ships speed in hyperspace. [22] [23] This suggests that ships operate under their own propulsion while in hyperspace, and it's not hyperspace it's self that moves, as ZPMs can also improve other abilities of ships. [22] While in hyperspace, spaceships are exposed to hyperspace radiation. This is a lethal form of radiation that ships are usually proted from by their shields. [24]

Sword of the Stars[edit]

In the video game Sword of the Stars (2006), each race has its own form of hyperspace, and therefore interstellar travel.

Humans, for example, utilize "Nodespace", a degenerate form of normal space formed by "cracks" between areas of heavy gravity such as stars. In Nodespace distances are greatly reduced, allowing ships to use ordinary sublight propulsion and yet still cover distances that would require FTL propulsion if traveling in normal space. Without the special "Bell Drive" nothing can cross between normal space and Nodespace, rendering traveling ships effectively invisible while in Nodespace, though they cannot see what they are traveling toward either. As well, Nodespace fractures form naturally and somewhat randomly, meaning that the shortest path between stars may still be somewhat circuitous.

The Hivers do not utilize any form of fast travel, instead employing Jumpgates to physically connect two or more points in space. Though it takes substantial amounts of time for a ship to travel between stars at sublight speeds, once a jumpgate is constructed within an intense gravity field it is essentially "next to" all other jumpgates, allowing instant travel between any worlds in the network.

Liir ships can not use normal drives due to their special requirements (their ships are much more massive than normal due to having to be filled with water, and thus would require enormously larger amounts of power to move). They instead perfect a form of instantaneous teleportation allowing them to transport from one location to another without moving at all. Eventually they can teleport far enough and quickly enough to achieve "speeds" that are effectively FTL over long distances.

The Tarkas are the only race to truly develop an FTL drive. Their ships fold space around them, allowing them to move at faster than light speeds.

Zuul Slavers, introduced in the expansion Born of Blood, utilize Nodespace in a similar manner to humans. Rather than exploiting natural Nodespace fractures, however, Zuul ships rip paths into Nodespace directly. This allows them to travel between stars as they wish, rather than being subject to the whims of nature. However, these artificial fractures are unstable and must be continually reinforced or they will collapse, destroying any matter in them at the time. As Zuul and Humans both use Nodespace in their travel, they may actually contact or intercept each other while in transit.

The Voyage of the Star Wolf[edit]

An idea similar to hyperspace, called hyperstate, was introduced by David Gerrold in the novel The Voyage of the Star Wolf (1990). In this setting starships used artificially-produced gravitational singularities (the space-time distortions found at the center of black holes) to transition between normal space and so-called irrational space, where faster than light travel was possible. The primary limitation of hyperstate was that the resulting gravitational distortions could be easily detected by other starships, so stealthy movement at faster-than-light speeds was effectively impossible.


In Traveller, hyperspace is referred to as Jumpspace, an alternate dimension/universe, accessed using a jump drive, which rely on the rare earth element lanthanum, and which uses an immense amount of power, to create an artificial singularity inside the drive, drives it out of normal space, and then uses hydrogen gas to literally inflate the singularity, creating a bubble of jumpspace, in which the ship exists. The ship is totally alone in jumpspace, even if another ship jumps very close (but far enough to avoid field overlap), each ship will be alone in their respective bubbles of jumpspace. A ship in jumpspace cannot be contacted by any sort of means, even by another ship in jumpspace. The distance traveled during a jump varies depending on the drive class, which is measured in how many parsecs one jump will carry a ship. The most unusual thing about jumping (travelling through jumpspace), is that all travel, no matter the distance, takes around a week. This is because that is the amount of time that the bubble of jumpspace is able to maintain itself, before collapsing, putting the ship back in normal space. Travelling through jump space is done by "riding" quantum levels, higher levels go "faster" and are able to transport ships higher distances. The distance that a ship travels is dependent on what level it uses, higher class drives use higher levels to travel more distance in a single jump. Velocity is meaningless in jumpspace, as movement happens by quantum mechanics, but energy is still conserved, so a ship coming out of jumpspace will have the same velocity and heading as it did when it entered jumpspace. In addition, it is impossible to change direction or really "move" in jumpspace, as any gravity fields, and really any force similar, severely affects the bubble of jumpspace, and would cause it to, at best, collapse prematurely, putting the ship back into real space. It is for this reason that it is standard procedure for a jump is to form the bubble 100 diameters away from a planet, star or other gravity well.


In David Brin's Uplift Universe, hyperspace is one of several ways to travel faster than light. Hyperspace has many "layers" which exist parallel to real space and have similar physical laws, of which five are safe enough for starships to actually use. Humans name these with letters A-E. Each layer allows a different speed of travel, and the faster layers require more energy and more advanced technology to use. A Level hyperspace allows the fastest speed, but is the most difficult to enter. E Level is the easiest layer to enter, but is also an extremely dangerous and constantly changing realm of pure thought, in which the space outside of a ship is perceived entirely through visual metaphors called "allophors". In addition to the difficulty of navigating in E Level, for which artificial intelligence and sensors cannot be used, the realm shifts in response to sapient observers and can alter starships that enter it. E Level is also inhabited by predatory living memes, many of which attempt to eat any real matter they find. Travel through E Level can drive people insane, or physically mutate them.

Entering any layer of hyperspace requires a hyperspace drive, as well as reality anchors which keep the ship connected to real space and keep the crew and passengers relatively safe during the journey. Although all layers of hyperspace are dangerous, hyperspace travel allows pilots to nagivate to the destination they want. Ships passing in the same level of hyperspace can sometimes detect one another, and it is even possible though difficult to detect a ship in hyperspace from normal space, by finding the ripples in spacetime caused by its reality anchors.

In addition to ordinary hyperspace travel, starships can ride networks of transfer points. These are wormhole-like places of folded space which allow near-instantaneous travel between two widely-separated locations, much faster than A Level hyperspace. Transfer points cannot be artificially created; they form naturally from the folds of spacetime, and their locations are extremely valuable possessions for the clans that own them. By Galactic law no species may bar travellers from using their transfer points, but they can charge tolls. Entering a transfer point requires no special technology, but does require a skilled navigator and extensive calculations, and can slightly damage the starship. Many species prefer to passively ride the transfer point network, sending their ship from one point to the point most securely connected to it, even if the destination is not in an especially convenient or useful place. However, another option is "thread running," a very difficult and dangerous maneuver in which the navigator enters a transfer point at an exceedingly precise angle that allows them to perceive the network of hyperspace "threads" connecting many transfer points together. A very skilled and daring navigator can then "throw" a ship from one transfer point thread to another that would normally be inaccessible from their starting point. Uplifted dolphins are unusually talented at thread-jumping.


The Pixar animated film WALL-E and its spin-off short film BURN-E feature a Star Wars-like depiction of hyperspace, where spacecraft can travel at very high speeds (the starship Axiom travels in a few seconds from outside the Solar System to the Earth). As a spacecraft travels through hyperspace after a hyperjump, the objects on it appear distorted and all the non-fixed objects fall to the rear of the craft or on the nearest fixed object.

As the starliner travels, in the two films, outside the craft there are distorted line-shaped images of stars, similar to the ones in Star Wars, which are used in a parodiac scene in BURN-E, as the we can see them in the titular character's visor like the coloured stripes on Bowman's helmet's glass in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Warhammer 40,000[edit]

In the Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe created in 1987, human starships are able to enter the "Warp" or the "Immaterium", a parallel dimension that is the domain of the consciousness of every sentient being in the universe, and also the realm of Chaos. Imperial ships, and others, use it for faster than light travel, a relatively unsafe operation due to the Warp's unpredictable nature. Ships are known to emerge from the Warp many hundreds of light years from their intended destinations, and timewise many Earth-years, decades or even centuries after they had been expected to arrive; the time-dilating effect means ships can arrive before the date their journey started. The Emperor of Mankind, perhaps the most powerful psyker ever, provides a psychic landmark for human-navigated starships attempting to traverse the Warp. Called the Astronomican, it is the only feasible means for navigating the Warp, and so making interstellar travel possible for the Imperium. Imperial starships require a special force shield known as the Geller Field, that creates a "realspace bubble" around the ship when in warpspace. In James Swallow's Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Book 4 of the Horus Heresy book series, a description of the inside of a ship whose Geller field had failed is given.[25]

The Tau, however, do not register in the Warp and therefore cannot truly enter it. But by studying the Warp drives from other species, they developed a method in which their ships "dive" towards the Warp and are then catapulted away, back into real space. While this is much safer than actually entering the Warp, it is much slower.

The Hive Fleets of the Tyranids do not travel through the Warp but instead rely on small Narvhal bio-ships which are capable of harnessing a planetary system's gravity from immense distances away to create a corridor of compressed-space through which Tyranid vessels can travel towards the system at a swift rate. Whilst slower than proper Warp travel, this method is much more reliable.

The Eldar (and a parasitic sub-race, the Dark Eldar) use a system of Jumpgates known as the "Webway Matrix", which operates using an expansive series of ancient "tunnels" in the warp that are immune to the influences of Chaos or the usual perils of warp travel. However, the scope and nature of the webway is as yet unknown to the vast majority of mankind. The race of Necrons may have used a similar system at some point in their past, but use an inertialess drive now.


Hyperspace in the Xenosaga universe is a realm of alternative space that looks like a long tube or column similar to a wormhole.[citation needed] In Hyperspace a starship can accelerate to faster than light speeds without experiencing the time dilation effects normally experienced when approaching the speed of light in normal space.[citation needed] Only spaceships equipped with a special force field can enter hyperspace, because exposure to hyperspace even for short period of time is hazardous to organic life.[citation needed] In order to enter hyperspace a ship must go to a specific area in space known as a Column Area. Column Areas are places where ships can safely gate into and out of hyperspace.[citation needed] They can be found all over the universe and are separated by less than a day's travel at sub-light speeds.[citation needed] Navigating hyperspace requires entering a Column Area and finding a corresponding point within the universe-spanning navigation network known as the Unus Mundus Network (U.M.N.).[citation needed] The U.M.N. Transportation Gate management facility controls the use of Column Areas, and clearance must be granted before hyperspace can be entered.[citation needed]


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