by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright 2011
Welcome to a world of real science fiction—real in the sense that, except for a single piece of high tech magic, all that happens in these stories is technically and scientifically possible. This is one of the constraints I have placed on my storytelling for this setting.
In the Honeycomb Comet stories, the following specific constraints are in place.
All human ships travel at slower than light speed (STL). The fastest ship humans can devise travels at a constant acceleration for years-long periods with acceleration as high as humans are comfortable with. I have chosen that to be one gravity (1G)—what we experience here on Earth.
The one piece of high tech magic I allow in these stories is that the HX aliens can sometimes go faster than light (FTL). It is called “blipping” in these stories, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy for the aliens, or easy on the spacetime fabric of the universe when it happens.
As a result of the constant-acceleration STL travel constraints, The Honeycomb Comet takes place over centuries and the cast of characters changes from one story to the next. This is how real space travel will be for humans, so this is how real human stories about space will happen.
The HX have no basis in current fact. What I wanted were aliens who had a different relation with humans than the aliens of Star Wars, Star Trek, or War of the Worlds–style stories. I’ll give away just one plot point here: Throughout this book what they do remains a mystery to humans.
One condition required for space commerce to develop enough that many spaceships are flying around to many destinations is this: That many people are getting very rich from spaceships flying around. Think of the history of trans-oceanic merchant ships starting in the 1500s. Merchant ships didn’t become numerous until the people who owned them became rich, unbelievably rich.
That’s why one important feature in all of these stories is wealth creation.
The other important feature is risk. As in the 16th century, while many people get fabulously wealthy, many also get killed. This tradeoff is very upsetting to some members of the community, so there is always tension about whether to risk more or not.