Tuesday, October 5, 2021


 I've talked about jump cyclers before.  Very sensible, nice ways to travel without just getting in the cryopod and waiting.  But they just aren't weird enough for my meatpunk default setting.  And I've also been stewing on approaching default FTL a bit differently than Mothership's implied setting does and making it (1) more difficult and (2) more interesting for parties that don't have a starship.  

To that end (with all credit to all the science fiction authors who have done living spacecraft) here we go:


Jump drives are an imperfect and very unsafe technology.  Humans have enough brainpower to wade into the sea of esoteric mathematics that enables FTL.  But humanity has natural predators in hyperspace; urging it to step out of the shallows; subtly manipulating the collective psyches of realspace prey species: these predators are the Gaunt. 

While Jump-1 and Jump-2 drives are mostly safe, anyone who inquires too carefully will run into the carefully laid snares set by the Gaunt (to the extent that the Gaunt have human-comprehensible intentions and internal lives).  The results of these incautious inquiries are memorialized by the ruins of the Dead Planet.  Nobody has made it past this great filter.  It has claimed primitives, interstellar civilizations, and digital gods. The Gaunt are patient.  Everything has succumbed in due time. 

Everything save one species; the Slipseeds.  These titanic beings have mastered higher-order hyperspatial mathematics.  A typical Slipseed is a five to eight kilometer long oblate spheroid.  The core is brilliant white with filamentous soapslick 'wings.'  The core is hollow and Slipseeds usually tolerate human construction projects in their interior volume.

While they are no conversationalists and relate to humans like humans relate to particularly clever ants, the Slipseeds do appear to have wants and needs.  They seem willing to follow routes that are useful to human passengers in exchange for mundane resources; metals are highly prized.  Exotic transuranic elements and antimatter even more so.  

In any event, the Slipseeds are largely indifferent to what their passengers do; they will transport warships, aid convoys, and everything in between.  When credibly threatened (which takes more than ordinary shipborne weaponry), a Slipseed can create terrible directed energy pulses using femtosecond-long hyperspace rifts.  

Within the belly of a Slipseed, human passengers are safe from the dangers of hyperspace and can meet other travelers, trade, and explore the belly of a titanic bus-alien. 


  1. Slipseeds cultivate technological civilizations like we cultivate yeast: humanity is the most efficient synthesis pathway for exotic elements and antimatter. (Not implausible)
  2. Slipseeds feed on experiences of sentient creatures and tolerate the indignities of carrying their baggage in exchange. (Not implausible)
  3. Slipseeds are the physical ancestors of the Sleepers.  (Doubtful)
  4. Slipseeds are really human time travelers, shepherding humanity into a safe future in which it is not consumed by the infinite hunger of the Gaunt. (Doubtful)
  5. Slipseeds have secret deals with corporate executives and the Exile States and are far more talkative than they appear. (Absurd)
  6. Slipseeds are the non-sentient tools of another species designed to suppress advancements in hyperspace technology, (Not implausible)

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