Linked Seas Concept

By Max Woerner Chase

One of the cool things about science fiction and fantasy is the concept of entirely separate planets/worlds coming in contact with each other. One of the problems with how this is usually done in science fiction is that the military applications of faster-than-light travel have to be circumscribed or ignored, because you can't tell a story if all of your characters are dead. (Although, multiple obliterated civilizations suddenly finding out that ghosts are real does sound like an interesting hook.) Basically, if you have something that can move very far, very quickly, in and out of gravity wells, with pinpoint accuracy (which is what many faster-than-light spaceships work out to be), then you have some very, very potent ballistic weapons.

Since the ships in e.g. Star Trek are somewhat notorious for acting mostly like naval ships, I thought, why not take the whole going-to-other-worlds thing to the age of sail? Basically, there's some way to "link" regions of space in the "start" and "destination" universe, and smoothly exchange them. This mostly avoids the weaponizable aspects of faster-than-light travel. The paradoxical aspects can be avoided by assuming that the "linking" is mediated by an underlying privileged reference frame. It's a bad idea to explain this to the reader, because all they really need to know is "time potentially passes at different relative rates on different planets, and those rates might change, but time travel in the sense of future events 'causing' past ones doesn't happen". To keep with the flavor, I assume the "linking" is easiest aboard a ship.

So far, I've started sketching out the history of a single planet, focusing on the events that lead to the development of the "linking" technology. I'll probably post it here once I've actually reached the first successful "link", devised a world map, sketched out some conlangs, and gone over the names.

The big thing that remains for me to work out is, why does this world, Kena'o, have to develop the "linking" technology itself? The aftermath of the linking is colonization, so it's not that everyone else is "nice" or whatever. I think there must be some kind of "beacon" that makes it easier to travel to a world, and is a real pain to try to influence other worlds to make. Technically possible, may have happened, but just, a huge hassle. Anyway, the first "link" between two worlds can then "score" the reference frame, making further travel easier. It is somewhat easier to influence other worlds to travel outward; I designed the technology as a bringing-together of several distinct concepts that would develop separately, and then have a synergy be noticeable.

I've got some vague ideas for where I want this all to go. I should probably start putting them down in earnest once I finish having fun building this one world.

I think the last missing piece for me in all of this consideration is the nature of "magic". One of the components of "linking" is some form of mental discipline that allows for remote influence. I want it to be something that got discovered, not something that's entirely within the grasp of an unintelligent being, so I think it must be some form of alien intelligence within the privileged reference frame. Something with understanding, but not volition. It can't be given lasting commands, generally, so magical strength is measured in terms of the ability to do more at once, or to keep a spell going longer. Basically, there's no such thing as an "enchantment" that can be "broken". If there's a persistent effect from magic, then either it's the mundane consequence of an already-completed spell, or there's someone you can punch to stop it. Ooh, thinking about sleep cycles and stuff kind of makes me want to have dolphin magi. Anything that breathes manually while sleeping could presumably maintain a spell indefinitely.

And with that, I'm done with today's blog entry.