Hyperspace, also called witchspace, is a dimension through which hyperdrive/witch-space drive equipped ships can travel instantaneously from one star system to the other. There are limits to the maximum distance that can be traversed in one jump.
In the Oolite fanfiction, a hyperspace jump leaves behind a temporary blue hypercloud, which can be used to track the target system, and through which additional ships can jump to the same system, not using their own Quirium fuel.
Entry and exit of hyperspace are indicated by an unpleasant feeling, which experienced hyperspace travellers become used to.
One arrives at a witchpoint beacon at the far end (a variety of buoy).
It is rumoured that Thargoids are able to navigate inside hyperspace.
Legend has it that the results of a misjump can be disastrous, varying from ending up somewhere in the middle of a sun or interstellar space, to travelling through time, or even returning to normal space turned inside out! A forced misjump is the last resort of the hopeless.
History of Discovery
There are at least 3 different schools with views on Oolite in-game History. The Syncretists and the Purists have quite different accounts of how it was discovered (see History for a purist history and GalCop for a syncretist account of how Witchspace was discovered). The Pragmatics don't want to be tied down with a backstory - and just play the game! See Lore for an exposition of the various philosophies.
A witchspace connection consists of a fifth-dimensional pseudocylindrical passage, or intertube, connecting a blue hole created by a witchspace drive to an invisible virtual white hole in the destination system. Fuel expenditure is proportional to the realspace length of the intertube.
The term witchspace refers specifically to the strange, magical and somewhat unlikely visual artefacts encountered while travelling the virtual length of the intertube. This virtual length is at once constant and proportional to the square of the realspace length, which makes perfect sense in five-dimensional bogometrics.
A witchspace malfunction occurs when the metric of the intertube is not perfectly balanced, which can happen due to hardware failure (slightly bent wire, build-ups of dust, or uneven load due to centrifugal force) in the witchspace drive’s field generator coils. This causes an “unravelling” of the field which dumps the traveller somewhere along the realspace path of the intertube; it is more likely to do so in the presence of large quantities of radioactive isotopes, incidentally of the very type used by the thargoids in their unrelated and badly-understood interstellar drives. Unfortunately, the only way to detect an unravelling condition is to enter the blue hole and see whether you end up where you expected to. This explains the importance of regular Maintenance.
Witchdrive fuel is used to create the entire intertube immediately before entering it, rather than for actual travel; for this reason, none is recovered in the case of “falling out” of the intertube Jens Ayton (2007).
Other theories of what Witchspace is
- Witchspace: possible to exit?
- Witchspace Wake
- Explanations Wanted
- Canon question about the Witchdrive.
Hyperspace or Witchspace?
|The confusion about the hyperspace/witchspace terminology comes from the original Acorn version manual and novella. Ian Bell & David Braben used hyperspace as their term of choice in the Manual. Robert Holdstock used witchspace by habit in his novella: it's found in many of his other SF novels, if my memory serves me correctly. Subsequent versions of the game's in-game text and documents have mixed both. It's now reached the point that Mr Braben's later versions of the game mix both terms pretty randomly.|
Whilst some individuals have rigidly stuck with the use of either one term or the other - and some have used one for the tunnel and the other for the region where one is stranded in a misjump - overall the use of the two terms is utterly confused, which will undoubtedly reflect their use amongst the billions of people in the thousands of systems of the 8 galaxies!
Terminological Exactitude is further challenged by the use of the term "Interstellar Space" for the region where one is stranded in a misjump. Admittedly, one can see stars even if they seem to be unreachable. But the appearance of the space seems unlike what one would expect a Generation ship to encounter as it made its way from one star system to another.
- Derelict by Ganelon
- Terminological Exactitude: Hyperspace, Witchspace & Interstellar Space (2021)
- Inconsistent Language - Witchspace or Hyperspace? (2015)
- Inconsistent Language - Witchspace or Hyperspace? (2007)
- Ideally Imperfect OOniverse: Calibrated Hyperspace jumps. BB Thread (2017-8): why do traders/convoys make their way out to the Witchpoint beacon and jump from there?
- Why do temperatures, energy banks & shields not reset in the witchspace tunnel? (2010)