5

I'm more than willing to cut Larry Niven a break -- when Beowulf Shaeffer got dropped out of hyperspace in "The Borderlands of Sol" until The Ringworld Throne (retitled Ringworld's Children more recently) was more than forty years in author time.

Still, I don't recall any in-universe explanation of how what Bram found to explain ships "disappearing" in hyperspace, especially when too deep in a stellar gravity well,

the presence of hyperspace beasts that literally eat ships when they can catch them, and mostly live near stars

squares with what happened to the Hobo Kelly's hyperdrive in "The Borderlands of Sol", when

the antagonist used a quantum black hole to cause the hyperdrive engine to vanish, dropping Hobo Kelly into normal space ten minutes -- or sixty days under fusion drive -- from normal dropout distance.

Two very reasonable explanations, based on two different understandings of what the hazards are in hyperspace -- but Niven, as far as I'm aware, just left the two seemingly conflicting explanations hanging.

Were these ever reconciled in-universe within the Known Space stories?

"But why can't both be true?" In "Borderlands" and several other stories talking about hyperspace, the danger of running too deep into a gravity well was emphasized; specifically in "Borderlands" Shaeffer says something about the hyperdrive "running off the edge of the universe", trailing atoms of the ship along its path, as if that were a phenomenon that had been detected, perhaps even that there had been hyperwave communication with a ship so afflicted (though I don't recall ever reading anything that specific). This doesn't match up well at all with Bram's discovery.

8
  • 2
    Why can't both be true?
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 30 '20 at 20:18
  • @NomadMaker No reason I know of -- but in that case, is there any in-universe support?
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 1 '20 at 11:01
  • Best to ignore the Ringworld sequels after the first one. Jul 1 '20 at 12:11
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble I liked Engineers and Throne -- and Niven wrote them in continuity with the rest of Known Space.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 1 '20 at 12:43
  • @ZeissIkon I hadn't heard either story before.
    – NomadMaker
    Jul 1 '20 at 15:28
-1

Maybe both are true, only the creatures around Sol have been steering clear of the singularity (and why wouldn't they?). It is only blind luck that the Hobo Kelly ran into the singularity instead of the creatures.

4
  • 1
    In "Borderlands of Sol" the singularity was located well outside Sol's singularity -- ten minutes in hyperspace is many light-hours (3.5 days per light year, fixed speed), hence needing 60 days at 1G on fusion drive to get home from there. You'd normally have spent a couple weeks on fusion drive getting to/from the safety limit.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 3 '20 at 15:00
  • Beyond that, what support can you give for this hypothesis. I'm not saying both explanations might not be true -- but I'm looking for whether Niven ever reconciled them, either in-universe or out-of-universe.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 3 '20 at 15:02
  • 1
    The problem in BoS was precisely the ships disappearing - apparently historically unprecedented and nobody could make sense of it. IIRC the "beasts" idea was floated but rejected as tinfoil hat material. Once the primordial black hole was found (and presumably removed or marked with hyperspace danger buoys or whatnot), the disappearance of ships presumably ceased. No beasts. Dec 3 '20 at 15:17
  • 1
    Well, over the whole Known Space history, ships disappeared in hyperdrive from time to time anyway. It was always chalked up to not paying enough attention to the mass indicator, cutting the gravity well too close, looking out a window and forgetting you have eyes, etc. Hyperdrive was never fully understood by humans into Louis Wu's time, so a certain accident rate wasn't impossible to accept.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 3 '20 at 18:11

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