In the book,

the aliens possessed a weapon called a dreadnought (if I remember correctly) that allowed them to interrupt human quantum communications when both sender and receiver were inside the dreadnought's range. The result of this was that the human defence drones were rendered useless once a dreadnought managed to get close to Earth after the base on the Moon (from where the drones were controlled) was destroyed.

which obviously raises the question

Why did the people from Earth not establish communication relay points in deep space, so that in the event of a dreadnought attack they could maintain communications via these relay points?

Was there a clue given in the story on why this idea was not considered?

Update: OK, based on phantom42's answer below, I want to clarify a few things:

Firstly, I'm not talking about classical (radio) communications at all.

According to the book (and affirmed by phantom42's quotes), quantum communication is possible inside the disrupter field as long as either the sender or receiver is outside of the field. Humans have access to spaceships (or drones) that can traverse the solar system in hours. Quantum communication is instant, so the distance between sender and receiver is not an issue.

So what stops the humans from sending a spaceship to Jupiter (or anywhere outside of the disrupter field) that contains two quantum communicators. Bob on earth establishes a communication link from earth to spaceship communicator 1. This is fine, because the spaceship (receiver) is outside of the disrupter field. The spaceship then relays any information it received from communicator 1 to communicator 2 - this can be done via classic means, because the spaceship is well outside of the disruptor field. Jane on earth then receives comms from communicator 2, which effectively allows Bob and Jane to talk to each other. Sort of like an SSH tunnel over space. :)

  • It's possible that that is exactly what MBA is. We note that MBA was hit before the disruptor was deployed (although that is perhaps for dramatic effect, rather than any tactical advantage). – Aron Jun 7 '16 at 0:17

The way I understand quantum communication is that while instantaneous and all that good stuff there is very little bandwidth. One has to monitor the individual packets for change of state while holding them separate in energy intensive fields. Basically got yourself a telegraph, worse than dial-up, at the cost of massive energy and a facility large enough to have multiple channels going at once. No way you're going to get video and controls going for a bunch of drones.
But suppose you did invest in these massive facilities. They're going to be channeling so much power that they'll be easily detectable and bad guys could put another jammer on that. Lots of effort and easily blocked.

It was crazy even keeping partial track of what was going on both on Earth and the moon. It seemed like they never expected to have the perfect defense, didn't have the resources for that, but were relying on someone among their cohort of super gamers to find a chink in the armor, some weakness that they could use, someone have a flash of insight and go for it.
Even if the quantum communication had worked they would have merely died more slowly. What they needed was ... a hero ...and guess what?

| improve this answer | |
  • Provide source links as evidence to your statements ;) – cheesits456 Mar 6 '18 at 6:59
  • the bounty period ended and this is the best answer so far so it got the bounty, but it still lacks evidence and reference links, @Hebekiah – cheesits456 Mar 11 '18 at 9:09
  • Evidence such as all the FTL communication links on wikipedia or scholarly articles on quantum state cloning/deletion? Or within the book where no particulars are given? The movie "Avatar" worked out some numbers and company charged $3000 per bit of quantum communication. Each "entanglement" must be confirmed on each end or a prearranged code used. The problems are large as you can't force a particular quantum state without losing entanglement. In any imaginable scenario at this time it is like sending binary (1 or 0) but having to check each bit. And what do you check with? more 1s & 0s – Hebekiah Mar 11 '18 at 16:51
  • Most of the FTL communication articles are about why it's impossible and elaborate proofs. The biggest reason being, in general, that information going faster than light somehow breaks the time barrier and you'd end up getting information about something that hasn't happened yet. Kinda cool? but if you change something based on that information...yeah, a mess. Since entanglement is only observable, not creatable, very subtle devices (if any at all) will be required Currently it takes at least a megawatt to observe a single state. A single word would take more power than CERN uses in a test. – Hebekiah Mar 11 '18 at 17:01
  • good explanation...edit it into the answer? – cheesits456 Mar 20 '18 at 11:38

TL;DR: The Disruptor jams all communications except locally controlled tethered drones and apparently ship-to-ship communicators within the Disruptor's sphere.

The book explains that the Disruptor deployed by the Dreadnoughts affects both quantum and normal communications, rendering the drones useless.

“The Disrupter appears to function by coupling itself to a large celestial body, like a planet or moon.” On the view screen, an animation showed a spinning chrome dodecahedron making landfall on Earth and then firing a beam of red energy into the planet’s core. “The device then harnesses the planet’s magnetic field, using it to generate a spherical field that disrupts all quantum communications inside it.”

“All of the EDA’s drones have backup radio-control units,” Shin added. “Unfortunately the Disrupter interferes with normal radio communications, too, so they’re useless.”

On the view screen, the emerald green Disrupter began to generate a transparent sphere of red energy that enveloped the entire planet Earth, along with its entire atmosphere— causing the EDA’s drones to fall out of the sky. But the moon was outside of the Disrupter’s range— as was the secret EDA defense base on its far side.

“The quantum-disruption effect only works if the transmitting and receiving ends of a link are both contained inside its spherical field,” the general said. “If either the drone or its operator are located outside of the disruption field, the quantum link is completely unaffected and remains intact. If the enemy manages to couple their Disrupter to the Earth, only the EDA personnel stationed up here on the moon— that’s us— will still be able to control the drones we have stockpiled back on Earth, and vice versa.”

It goes on to explain that Moonbase Alpha is still able to defend itself locally via surface guns and tethered drones which are unaffected by the Disrupter.

Shin nodded. “This base has a backup hard-line intranet,” he said. “So we were still able to defend the base using the surface guns, and with tethered backup drones, which were all hardwired and thus unaffected by the Disrupter.”

Not only does it affect the remote-controlled drones and quantum communications, it also affects regular aircraft, GPS, satellites, and all radio communications.

“What about the conventional air force?” Debbie asked. “Can’t they help?”

“They’ll try,” he said. “But the Disrupter knocks out all wireless and radio communications, too. It alters Earth’s magnetic field and plays havoc with GPS satellites, too. Our conventional aircraft will all be flying blind. And they might as well be going up against Godzilla. Conventional fighters won’t stand a chance. It’s up to us.”

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    "The quantum-disruption effect only works if the transmitting and receiving ends of a link are both contained inside its spherical field... if either the drone or its operator are located outside of the disruption field, the quantum link is completely unaffected and remains intact." Right, so this is my question - why not have a relay point in space, to which quantum communications are relayed back to Earth. The remote spaceship then contains two communication channels - an incoming one from Earth, and a separate out-going one back to Earth. The two are linked classically on the spaceship... – firtydank Oct 27 '15 at 11:05
  • 2
    ... which means that the dreadnought disrupter field does contain both the sender and receiver of each channel (even though the ultimate sender and receiver are inside its field) . This would allow quantum communication to proceed, allowing people on earth to control the drones. – firtydank Oct 27 '15 at 11:09
  • Communications between inside and outside the sphere is disabled. A relay would be pointless. – phantom42 Oct 27 '15 at 11:09
  • There is a lot of sloppy writing/plotting in this book. – phantom42 Oct 27 '15 at 11:10
  • 1
    The relay means that the end-points of each quantum comms link is not inside the dreadnought field. If this would not work, then how could they control the drones from the Moon? – firtydank Oct 27 '15 at 11:11


  • Likely simply the Hollywood complex
  • Moon Base Alpha was an outpost outside of range
  • Humanity never had the resources for it to matter

(note: I listened to the audiobook so I do not have good sources at hand...)

So I honestly hadn't thought of that possibility. It is a very smart idea on paper. Just like in movies and books throughout history I would hazard a guess that it is just the Hollywood complex. I.E. - to further the story they (or in this case he) needed to take a specific route. For example, one thing I wondered was why they had only sent a handful of drones with the first icebreaker.

One other thing to consider is that we do not have all the details of what had transpired. I'm sure that the drones used in defense were not the first version and I'm sure they worked through multiple defense strategies. It is possible that they even tried to set up an outpost on another planet and it was destroyed or something.

Moon Base Alpha was also just the outpost that you are referring to. Should the moon have been attacked forces could deploy from earth and vice versa. That was a great strategy, give the situation. If they had set up on Mars or whatever it would take more time and resources to get troops and supplies from one to the other.

The last thing I think that is worth mentioning is that you have to remember humanity never had a chance. In the time it took us to make our meager fleet and defense forces the (I can not remember the Sphere's name) already built a fleet of three waves that could have destroyed us three or four times over. Setting up an outpost somewhere would have likely resulted in its destruction just like the moon.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Yeah, just put another jammer on the 3rd point, 4th point whatever. I got the same impression that the hardwired was the best they could reliably count on after plenty of rough battles. Also split defenses with Earth and it was chaos. Was going to be a long shot however it went down with no perfect defense possible. They were counting on someone to find a weakness and exploit it; their only hope. – Hebekiah Mar 5 '18 at 11:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.