Here Is There

This is another post which has fallen through a wormhole from the future, since the device in question won’t be invented until well into the 9th millennium.

But since they’re going to appear before too long in Timeo Eldraos et Dona Ferentes, it is probably best that they be mentioned here first.

What is important to understand where the Claves-Catala translocator is – or to give it its more common name, translocation rings are – concerned is that they do not utilize any of the classically theorized methods of teleportation. (The Indeterminacy Barrier and its corollary, the uncloneability lemma, prevent matter-information conversion with sufficient fidelity for accurate reproduction in a manner not amenable to bypass by subquantum operators, and handling the energies of significant volumes makes the use of mass-energy conversion impractical.) Nor do they make use of wormhole technology, fixed or dynamic, whose necessary mass and relationship with the metric stress tensor is inconvenient for neighborhood deployment.

Rather, translocation rings make use of matter editation techniques to perform an interlocked exchange on the mass-energy within two volumes; an exchange which does not violate the uncloneability lemma, since while the quantum states of the volumes are exchanged, neither becomes known or determinate in the process.

From this principle of operation, many of the limitations and properties of translocation rings proceed. Since the core of their functionality is an interlocked exchange at the ontic level, it follows that there can be no unidirectional translocation; that each translocation operation necessarily involves the bidirectional exchange of identical hyper⁶spheres. Energy and momentum are conserved, but for the purposes of calculating the necessary compensation and buffering that must be provided by the ring-sets, the hyper⁶spheres may be treated as ontomathematical points.

(Obviously, the necessity of bidirectional exchange implies that each set of translocation rings is, of that necessity, a transceiver; and thus those most fantastic notions of translocation without equipment at one or both ends of the operation can safely be left in the reams of the pulps, as can any concern over the possibility of interpenetration; at no point and in no conceivable failure mode can the hyper⁶spheres collapse into a samespace.)

Likewise, there is no intrinsic limitation on translocation range, save for the required energetic compensation and the necessity that the ring-sets involved be precisely synchronized in all respects, which necessitates communication, and thus range becomes primarily a matter of the allowable communications delay before synchronization fails. It is this necessity for communication that largely imposes the Luminal Limit upon translocation de facto. Nor can there be any alteration of the mass-energy in transit, since indeterminate states cannot be edited, nor do they exist, in any technical sense, during the tesseral moment of transition.

Ambient pressure, temperature, et. al., are not compensated for by the system, and in most cases this simply leads to the characteristic ‘sigh’ of translocation, as the higher or lower air pressure of the translocated volume evens itself out with an outbreeze or inbreeze, respectively. (Indeed, nor is atmospheric, etc., chemistry, which can lead to the amusing sight of, for example, a perfect cylinder of water flashing briefly into existence along with a diver before collapsing under its own weight and flowing away, while at the other end of the process a similar bubble of air undergoes the reverse to the surprise of the fish.) In large translocation grids, wayshrines – the traditional name for the buildings containing public translocation rings – whose environment differs significantly from the local standard are usually enclosed and environmentally sealed, to avoid inconvenience and unpleasant incidents.

All this, of course, is of little relevance to the typical user of translocation rings, whether independent pairs or part of the translocation grid, who need merely stand within the volume defined by the ring-set and activate it – with, in the latter case, the minor additional task of selecting a destination set in advance.

– Theory and Praxis of Translocation,
Riëdal Claves-ith-Claves & Jancis Catala-ith-Catala,
Practical Insight Publishing (8124)


2016_D(Alternate words: Devil, Delta, Defiled, and Dalliance, all of which have been placed on the later-consideration list. Also “Drink Order”, which will be today’s trope-a-day.)

Calencail 14th
Summer breakfast parlor

With all respect to my illustrious cousin, the most frustrating aspect of the translocation problem is having an answer to it sitting closer to me than the liquor cabinet, which answer happens to be completely useless.

So far as understanding theory and practice are concerned, at least. Our House of a Thousand Doors is certainly the wonder of this or any other age, sprawling as it does across eight cities and two continents, has served us well as the foundation of the Claves fortune, and the view from here atop Tirias Mirénon is undoubtedly superior to that from anywhere save possibly the Starspike, for all that it requires a roaring fire for my comfort even in high summer.

And yet we can reproduce none of it.

The doors of the House were recovered from an archaeological expedition south of Inisvaen by my ancestor, Iallis Claves-ith-Claves, which we now know to have been an offshoot of the Precursor site at Iniscail. (Although they do not sit well with other known Precursor technologies, which raises further possibilities still – are they artifacts from those who came before the Precursors that the Precursors were investigating?) Discovering how they worked and that their function seemed interwoven with the traditions of our family, she built the House around them, deeming their discovery an inspiration from Dírasán, and bidding her successors to discover their workings and learn to fashion more.

Ten generations later, freshly appointed, and having carefully studied the journals left behind by all my predecessors as Discerner of the Doors, I can sum up our knowledge thus:

  • We possess 327 instrumentalities capable of translocating one from place to place. (So, yes, our estate is misnamed, having only 325 actual doors – unless you count Uncle Severian’s observatory, which adds one on the occasions that it orbits within range. Thus, we now only have one spare, the remaining two having been destroyed in ill-considered experiments by my early predecessors.)
  • We know how to make them work, how far you can remove them from each other’s presence before they stop working, how often they can work, and other minutiae of their operation.
  • We don’t know how they work, either practically or theoretically, what powers them, how to duplicate them, or what they’re made of.
  • We do, however, have a comprehensive list of all the scientific investigation methods of the last seven millennia that have completely failed to reveal anything useful about our family treasures.

So it stands.

Will I be the one to crack open this mystery? Well, I shall do my damnedest. The prospect of fame, major scientific prizes, and the trillions of esteyn that normally accompany revolutionary discoveries do have a certain appeal, after all, even beside the curiosity that has inflamed generations of Claves scions.

I cannot, however, claim to be confident of success.

– Alar Claves-ith-Estenv, personal journal

(Note: this is a from-the-deuterocanonical files. I’m still considering the consequences of introducing even this extremely limited form of translocation to the Eldraeverse, so it’s not established canon yet – and any expansion of it will definitely be in the form of a future discovery, not something that exists at the setting’s current “present time”.

But it is something that may well exist, and in any case, it is canon that many of the Houses possess or have possessed some sort of artifact like this as a “family heirloom” or two.)


Trope-a-Day: Twin Maker

Twin Maker: While teleportation doesn’t exist, mindcasting, forking, and reinstantiation, along with more exotic sophotechnology, can create much the same effects.  (Although, in mindcasting, the first step is to perform an orderly shutdown, because while you can happily transmit a static mind-state vector, transmitting a running one is a much more complicated procedure that requires special software and is in any case impractical over any distance long enough to invoke light-lag, since it’s kind of hard to think when half your brain is a couple of seconds away from the other half.)

But, by and large, no-one gives a crap, because the generally accepted answer to the philosophical conundra involved, in conformance with the established fact that souls are software objects, is pattern identity theory, and continuity of consciousness does not matter –  or as it’s put for the layman, if you think like you, and feel like you, and act like you, and remember being you, then you are you for all legal, practical, philosophical, and other purposes. Yes, even if there are now two of you, at least until you diverge.  Get over it, already.

Yet More Safe Science

“Yes, translocation should be easy.  It doesn’t seem all that dissimilar from vector control, right?  And this is exactly the sort of thing that ontotechnology does – gets intimate with the informational substructures of the physical universe.  So why can’t we just poke new values into the spatial coordinates of these particles here, and blip, one tessera moment later, they’re all over there instead?”

“Well, we’re finding that out.  But it may take a while, because the universe’s API tends to return errors in the form of terajoules of loose energy, expensive piles of wrecked equipment, and other such signs that the coder responsible didn’t understand the difference between exceptions and explosions.”

– Imogen Andracanth-ith-Andracanth, who is really tired of this question

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.