In Babylon 5, the Shadows used what looks like a completely different system for interstellar travel compared to the other species. While almost every species required either jump gates or creating a jump point (even some of the ancients), the Shadows seemed to just fade into space. When leaving a particular region, they would just fade out and appear in hyperspace.

The Babylon Project describes the Shadows as being able to "phase directly into hyperspace". It's not clear to me where the Babylon Project got that description from (I couldn't find it in the referenced Babylon 5 roleplaying sourcebook). I'm curious if JMS ever discussed it, or if it was mentioned in one of the episodes or books.

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    JMS certainly used the phrase "phase out" to describe them going into hyperspace. He may have been merely describing the visible effect though
    – Valorum
    Jan 9, 2022 at 18:07
  • I saw that in a Usenet group and thought it referred to the cloaking effect of those ships.
    – FontFamily
    Jan 9, 2022 at 18:17
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    "Shimmer" is how the first sighting was described IIRC. Jan 9, 2022 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


Babylon 5 isn't about technobabble so there's not going to be much on the "how" of it. Even if some novel or comic went into it there probably won't be much other than reiterating that the Shadows aren't cloaking like Klingons they are slipping into hyperspace. (Note the overrated Technomage trilogy has a ridiculous number of continuity problems and should be ignored entirely in my opinion. Just in case someone finds something in that.)

There's a mention buried in a copyright argument circa June 02, 1996. JMS is responding to some nonsense on Compuserve.


CHRIS: "Cloaked ships? The shadows cloak themselves, but how would the Trek guys sue JMS for stealing their idea about cloaking technology?"

JMS: Shadow vessels don't cloak; they have alternate technology for phasing in from hyperspace.

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    Sorely tempted to downvote due to your Techno-mage comment...... Overrated? I've never even met or heard of a single other person in the world who has read it. It blew my mind as a kid though. All the best stuff has continuity problems anyway.
    – Nacht
    Jan 10, 2022 at 4:14
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    Just a comment about 'technobabble'... in my understanding, technobabble is when a show gives a hollow, superficially scientific sounding explanation, but there is no underlying theory. If you want to say B5 is about the story and characters and not at all concerned about how the fictional technology works, then I would say that is preciesely what technobabble is. But JMS actually did a ton of worldbuilding behind the scenes. I think he gave the shadows a different tech for hyperspace to show how powerful they are.
    – jdm
    Jan 10, 2022 at 13:23
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    @jdm he actually does discuss technobabble in another post I saw looking for the above. jmsnews.com/messages/message?id=14920 anyway my point being there isn't some detailed particle of the week text explaining the difference between shadows and Vorlons going into hyperspace like Star Trek Voyager would do. Just minimal it's science fiction world building as you say. Jan 10, 2022 at 14:20

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