I'm curious as to which work of science fiction can lay claim to furthest distance travelled in one trip by non-Wormhole, non-space shortening, non-teleportation means. So stuff like Q or the Traveller zapping the Enterprise somewhere; or the TARDIS' ability travel to any point in the Universe do not count.

I'm looking for the furthest distance travelled by a craft on one mission allowing for Hyperspace and other FTL.

To get a better idea of what I'm talking about I'll give this example:

In Stargate Universe, in the pilot, it's stated that Destiny, the main ship in the series, has travelled a vague distance of "Several billion light years from home (Earth)". The ship has been for 50 million years utilising an unknown form of FTL.

I want to know about voyages that trump that vague distance.

  • 11
    Won't bet on it being the absolute longest, but the longest I can think of is "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson, a ship that accelerates close to the speed of light and lasts past the end of the universe, towards the end crossing billions of light years in moments. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:40
  • 2
    The futurama crew traveled to the edge of the universe
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:44
  • 4
    I recall a short story (I think) where some people lived past the death of the universe and saw the universe reborn. They probably traveled an unimaginable distance, but when space is bending and universes are being recreated, it's hard to measure a distance.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:49
  • 1
    Restaurant at the End of the Universe? ;) More seriously: how can you rule out wormholes, space-shortening, etc..but allow hyperspace?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 21:54
  • 2
    Dare I mention lizard Janeway traveling to every point in the universe all at once?
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 21:56

5 Answers 5


Probably Tau Zero by Poul Anderson.

According to Wikipedia, eventually they end up going billions of light-years in "moments" of their proper time.

They basically keep on accelerating, and fly through the Big Crunch (which is the following universe's Big Bang), and fly for several billion light years after that. So how far they go depends on how long it is until the Big Crunch. Given that science at the time that Poul Anderson wrote this thought the Big Crunch was over 50 billion years away (and possibly well over), the distance they traveled was at least 60 billion light years, and possibly much more.

  • 1
    Given that a "Big Crunch" hadn't been ruled out at the time the story was written, it would still have been 10s of billions of years in the future, and they flew for at least 12 billion years after the "Re-Bang" (to end up in a universe of similar age to the one they left). So they spent at least 30, and probably more like > 50 billion years travelling at approximately the speed of light, so definitely over 30 billion LY.
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 18:28
  • @DavidW A "Big Crunch" is still not ruled out. If someone says otherwise, he/she is fantasizing heavily. Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 21:10

In Diaspora by Greg Egan, the protagonists discover that our universe is effectively contained in a sub-atomic particle in another higher universe (it’s actually more complicated than that), which is itself contained in a subatomic particle in a universe that’s higher still, and repeat for ever. They manage to navigate up the chain billions of times. Any movement they make at the top level covers a distance that’s inconceivably vast at our level —- just at the second level up, walking across a room means travelling trillions of times the width of our whole universe, and as I say, they repeat the process billions of times. Disapora is pretty well always the answer to questions about what’s the biggest anything in a work of science fiction.

  • @user14111 Hah, good one. In "He Who Shrank" the protagonist was condemned to eternally go down the chain of scales, but since [SPOILER] it turned out that Earth was at a sub-sub-sub....sub-sub-scale of of the protagonist's world, his movements before being shrunk would indeed have been incredibly distant to us. One problem in that story is that if the professor could remotely share the shrinking assistant's perceptions, it meant time flowed at the same rate for all scales, so you'd think movement at a high levels would violently affect lower levels. Still, it was a neat story.
    – Jacob C.
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 18:21
  • @user14111 -- Ah, I'd forgotten that part. (I last read the story the summer before last, after having read it some years before; I have it in the Asimov-edited Before the Golden Age collection.) But if you look at the bottom of page 19, column 1 in the copy of Amazing Stroies you linked, the professor pretty specifically seems to describe receiving a direct impression through his helmet. Then again, though brilliant, the prof. was sleep deprived. =P Perhaps he overlooked that problem. He didn't anticipate the initial, temporary paralysis, after all, so he didn't foresee everything.
    – Jacob C.
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    Odd -- the comments I was replying to have disappeared. Banned/self-deleted user? It's unfortunate when pertinent discussion disappears...
    – Jacob C.
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 20:33

I expect that a very great distance was reached returning to Earth in The Skylark of Valeron by E.E. Smith.

After chasing their enemies a vast distance in interstellar space in Skylark Three, our heroes are attacked by a more deadly foe and face destruction. They use equipment aboard the Skylark Three to send their smaller ship Skylark Two into another dimensions to escape. Returning to our own universe an unknown distance away in Skylark Two They eventually have to build the Death Star sized spaceship Skylark of Valeron to hold the giant telescope equivalent necessary to find the Milky Way galaxy.

The Skylark of Valeron has to be over a hundred kilomters in diameter to hold the turning circles for their giant super advanced telescope equivalent, despite the turning circles having many angle markings per inch. With 39,370.1 inches per kilometer, and minimum diameter of 100 kilometers, and the circumference being 3.14159 times the diameter, there are at least 12,368,471 inches on the circumference of the turning circles. So a degree of angle on the turning circles would be 34356.863 inches, a minute of angle would be 572.61438 inches, and a second of angle would be 9.543573 inches, so if there are 104.78255 marks per inch there are 1,000 per arc second and the measuring ability is to 0.001 arc second.

Anyway, you'll have to read The Skylark of Valeron to get the actual figures and decide if they travel a billion light years back to our galaxy, or ten billion, or a hundred billion, or whatever.


In "The Cabinet of Oliver Naylor" by Barrington J. Bayley, a spaceship that can travel at velocities far beyond c is pushed to go past the edges of the known universe, far from any galaxies, where it gets irretrievably lost in an endless void. (See this answer to my search for this story's title for further description.)

  • Credit to @OrganicMarble for reminding me of the title to this story.
    – Jacob C.
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 21:39

In the second Manless Worlds section of Murray Leinster's The last Space Ship, the hyero and heroine are accidentally carried three hundred billion light years, to a galaxy so remote as to be invisble from ours.

I don't know if that is actually the furthest, but it may be the longest journey with a specified distance given.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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