Where? Elsewhere


A term adopted by ontotechnologists to designate the not-space/not-time in which the universe keeps its metadata (a realm whose existence is implied by all three major theories of natural ontology, although with different representations and certain disagreements on the details), and which is also the realm that translocation moves through, that pocket claudications and other dimensionally transcendent spaces “exist” within, and so forth. Not really a where or a when, inasmuch as it contains only the space and time that you bring with you (mistakes in this area often prove embarrassing), the term is mostly a shrug that saves explaining the detailed mathematics and metamathematics behind Janiris’s Sixfold Mapping of Mass-Energy Event Nodes onto the Sexternial Data-Space Metric, for example, to curious laysophs.

– Quandry’s Reference to Scientific Terminology

(Author’s Note: for those keeping close track of the ‘verse’s technological base, this is taken from an edition that accidentally found itself [REDACTED] years in the past, and as such describes certain effects that don’t exist yet…)


2016_P(Alternate words: Project and pornography. You may or may not get something for the latter one eventually.)

Antíär Steamweaver, Scalar Space Project, Resplendent Exponential Vector, to Daphne Asamis, Polycosmic Chic of Delphys, greeting.

Thank you for your enquiry of the 6th, and permit me please to say how gratifying the entire team here at the Scalar Space Project finds your potential commercial interest in our spatial manipulation technology (albeit not “pocket universes”, as the popular press has occasionally described it, however apposite the term might be for your proposed application; rather, we are able to manipulate the fabric of space-time in such a way to create a polypoid bubble, which we term a claudication, that remains part of the existing universe’s space-time via its neck).

Regrettably, at this time we are unable to fulfil your specific requirements. The experimental equipment we currently use to spin and sustain claudications requires a singularity of not inconsiderable mass, along with ancillary vector control and power generation equipment – and its fuel – occupying the volume of a small moon. While research continues, as yet we are unable to see a clear path to reducing these requirements to something practical for installation in, say, a waistcoat or cloak.

We are, though, most enthusiastic about your proposal, and will bear this application in mind when conducting our future research. Be assured you will hear from us without delay should these circumstances change!

Antíär Steamweaver

for and on behalf of

Scalar Space Project Directorate

Trope-a-Day: Pocket Dimension

Pocket Dimension: Alas, outside virtual reality, this seems to require basement universes (requires very high-energy physics, being worked on) or dimensional transcendence (requires emergent ontotechnology, also being worked on).

Being worked on very enthusiastically by starship manufacturers, I note, because holy mother of crap what would being able to keep your remass in a pocket dimension do for your mass ratio!

(Let’s hope that the mass of the contents inside doesn’t seamlessly translate to the mass of the dimension “mouth” outside…)

What is Ontotechnology?

…a reader asks.

Well, let me say right up front that ontotechnology as I describe it is pure-quill handwavium. Its connection to contemporary, real-world physics is that I endeavor to avoid coming right out and stabbing said contemporary, real-world physics in the face; after all, anything discovered in the future has to be consistent with the present. Rather, it is my speculation as to what the physics of the future as expanded by posthuman intellects running on hardware the size of small moons would look like – and as pure speculation, that means I don’t want to see any “but I read in this book that it was possible” arguments made anywhere, ‘kay?

Disclaimer over with, I stole the term from Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, who coined it as a neologism for “technology that permits manipulation of the fundamental rules of reality”. Which is exactly what ontotechnology does.

(How does it do it? Well, I postulate that the fundamental realization behind ontotechnology – by any of the three theories you care to use – is that at a very basic level, the map is the territory. Information and mass-energy are essentially equivalent. Mathematics doesn’t just represent the fundamental structure of reality; it is the fundamental structure of reality. Think of the universe, if you will, as a computer program, database, and processor all of which are also each other; ontotechnology, in those terms, is the skillful application of the root password and a debugger to it to make it work differently.)

You want to change the laws of physics? It does that. Treat space and time as building material? It does that, too. Set the speed of light to 60 mph, abolish the weak nuclear force, make gravity attract in proportion to the cube of the distance instead of the square, invent an entire new universal force that affects particles based on their heretofore-unknown qualities of shiny, fluffy, and matte? Sure, no problem. Can do. A fully mature ontotechnology would let you invent your very own personal version of physics that works exactly the way you want it to and impose it on whatever bit of the universe you want to work that way – or, hell, just reach outside, take hold of the brane, and make a new universe that runs according to your principles.

The problem, of course, is that even for weakly godlike moon-brains, programming universes is very, very complicated. The set of self-consistent/self-sustaining physical laws is a very, very tiny subset of the set of expressible physical laws, and the set of physical laws that are compatible with the existence of mass-energy as we know it is an even tinier subset of that subset, and the set of physical laws that are compatible with the existence of complex informational structures like, well, us is… you get the picture – and that’s without taking into account whatever laws control ontotechnology itself. (And, to further extend that debugging analogy, when you crash the universe tryin’, you don’t get a nice friendly exception message, or even a blue screen of death.)

All of which is why no-one, in the present time of the Eldraeverse, has a fully mature ontotechnology, and probably won’t for millions if not billions of years to come.

But they have been able to figure out a few applications that can be made to work safely and reliably, and that’s where technologies like the controllable wormhole, and the tangle channel, and vector control (which lets you do interesting things to gravity and the linkage between inertial and gravitational mass, starting with breaking mass into those two distinct concepts) come from – and where any future breakthroughs along those lines (say, if I decide at some point to let dimensional transcendence be invented) and/or mysterious rule-breaking alien artifacts dug up will draw from.

Trope-a-Day: Hammerspace

Hammerspace: While there is no actual Hammerspace technology – yet, the ontotechs are still working on it (see: Bigger on the Inside) – the ability of the ubiquitous desktop nanoforge and the hand-held nanolathe to produce small objects essentially on demand does create much of the same effect as being able to stash them Elsewhere.  The recipes, of course, being software, take up practically no room.

Trope-a-Day: Bigger on the Inside

Bigger on the Inside: Averted… so far (as referenced in Stop Fittling With That and its Author’s Notes).  The possibility is acknowledged to exist – the field of ontotechnology is working on it even now, in the present of their timeline, under the generic name of “dimensional transcendence”, and it really ought to be possible, since both wormholes and vector control demonstrate that it’s possible to muck about with the topology of space in interesting ways, but no-one’s actually done it yet.

Stop Fittling With That: Author’s Notes

For those who might be a mite curious, Stop Fittling With That is set in “present-time” – that is to say, the furthest future point of my defined timeline (although, obviously, not the end of their history), so those mentioned technologies are things that won’t actually appear anywhere in the Eldraeverse, certainly not in the context of the peoples of the Associated Worlds.

FTL (other than the mentioned wormholes and tangle channels) won’t appear at all, and in fact is canonically impossible by other means using my conphysics; for reasons which boil down to “it interferes with the kind of stories I want to tell and the kind of technologies I want to use to tell them”.  Such forms of FTL as wouldn’t – like, say, mass relays – are for the most part functionally isomorphic to the wormhole network I chose to go with anyway.

Dimensional transcendence just hasn’t been invented yet – any examples of it you may see are faked by means which you’ll read about when the Trope-a-Day catches up to, ah, Hammerspace, I think – but is permitted by the local conphysics.  (If you can bend space and time enough to do practical, mass-produced wormholes, bending them enough to put a decent-sized mansion inside a police box is for the most part merely a matter of working out the engineering – for very large values of “merely”.)

Negentropy or something like it probably will require the ability to not merely bend but actually drill holes in the universe, and so is deep-time lengths of time away if it’s possible at all.  Which it may well not be, but I don’t plan on arbitrarily declaring the greatest expression of their greatest ambition physically off-limits when I can just Shrug of God it into the indefinite far future.

And both matter translocation/teleportation and instant Star Trek replicator-style manufacturing don’t exist for the same two reasons.  First, Heisenberg…

(Or rather, in-world, Jeness Rafientar, who spent the first, shorter part of his physics career discovering the uncertainty principle under the name of the Indeterminacy Barrier, and then spent the rather longer rest of his physics career trying unsuccessfully to find some way, any way, to work around the blasted thing.)

…is a bugger, as we know, and magical Heisenberg Compensators are a little too handwavy for my taste, thanks so much.  And secondly, even if you only do it at the molecular level, all that binding energy has to go to/come from somewhere in a very short time, and that poses some thermodynamic problems at the level of physics, and some literary/worldbuilding problems in explaining the implications that the ability to routinely toss that much energy about has on everything else.

These may theoretically exist in the future – given that the basis of the emerging field of ontological engineering is to use manipulations of the laws of the laws of physics that underlie the regular laws of physics to tell the latter to shut up and sit down, but they don’t at any part of the timeline I’m working with.