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I recall reading (in either book 7 Persepolis Rising or book 8 Tiamat's Wrath) that it had been determined that the 2 most distant gated star systems were 1 thousand light years apart. Implied is those which humans knew of and were using. The original total system was almost certainly physically larger.

I would like to have verified or corrected my recollection of 1 thousand light years.

My intention is to draw onto an image of the Milky Way a sphere of the appropriate diameter in order to get a sense of 'galactic footprint' of the gate system as known by mankind. For lack of a better origin rationale I will center the sphere on our location in the Milky Way.

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The figure you remember comes towards the end of Persepolis Rising. While chatting to Alex, Naomi looks up at the night sky and muses:

She’d seen a map once — the splash of systems that the gates connected. Thirteen hundred stars in a galaxy with three hundred billion of them. They’d been clumped together, the gate-network stars. The two farthest systems were hardly more than a thousand lightyears apart. A little more than one percent of the galaxy, and still unthinkably vast.

The radius of the Milky Way is indeed estimated to be about 50,000 lightyears, so the "bubble" of space linked by the gates is pretty small on this scale, its size only being about 1% of the galaxy's diameter. It will hardly be visible on a map of the whole Milky Way.

This does conflict with information given in the 4th book of the series, Cibola Burn. When the Rocinante travels to the Ilus system, Holden remarks on how unremarkable the trip seems:

Passing through a ring into another star system, halfway across the galaxy from Earth, should be a dramatic moment... Instead, there was nothing. No physical sign that the Rocinante had been yanked fifty thousand light-years across space.

This figure of "50,000 lightyears" is not mentioned again, however, and seems to have been quietly forgotten about.

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  • thanks for the research... especially the Cibola Burn '50k LY' information. This highlights one interesting aspect of the 'third person close' form of writing, which is that you get the thoughts and perspective of that individual at that moment and not necessarily an accurate or complete version. Perhaps 50k LY was 'as best he could guess at that moment'. How do you search and extract this text so quickly??
    – BradV
    Commented Sep 30, 2023 at 20:12
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    For some reason the line from Cibola Burn stuck in my head, and when I read Persepolis Rising I wondered why the distances had shrunk so much. I just chalked it up to a continuity error though. If you know which book the text is in, then it's simple to then scan an electronic version to get the precise wording. Commented Sep 30, 2023 at 20:53
  • Rough calculation shows that the bubble volume containing gated solar systems is .0061% of the MW "thin disk" volume When Holden remarks 'halfway across the galaxy' I would consider it a casual thought rather than navigational fact. Coincidentally, the MW galactic disk is roughly 100k LY and so halfway is 50k LY. I may consider e-books... but I so enjoy the act of holding a physical book.
    – BradV
    Commented Sep 30, 2023 at 21:37
  • Another discrepancy that stood out to me is that the ring builders are said to be many millions of years extinct (close to a billion iirc), and humanity stumbled onto the rings they left behind. If that's true, then galactic drift during the intervening time should've dispersed them all over the galaxy. Not isolated to a bubble 1% its size.
    – BMF
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 1:35
  • @BMF Stars do not just randomly drift around within a galaxy. They orbit the galactic center much the same as planets orbit a star. While there is a bit of of local variation of relative velocity and vector of that general rotation... local star groupings of the size of .0061% of galactic volume would be somewhat gravitationally bound and bubble would not significantly expand much. Besides, the bubble diameter of 1k LY is AFTER builders extinction of billions of years, which would by that reasoning INCLUDE systems drifting apart.
    – BradV
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 19:25
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The quote you recall is from Persepolis Rising:

She’d seen a map once – the splash of systems that the gates connected. Thirteen hundred stars in a galaxy with three hundred billion of them. They’d been clumped together, the gate-network stars. The two farthest systems were hardly more than a thousand light-years apart. A little more than one percent of the galaxy, and still unthinkably vast.

It does suggest that mapping the location of all of the systems was done, even if detailed surveys of the systems were not complete.

Tiamat's Wrath fits with that - Elvis mission is to survey systems without planets capable of sustaining life - they are visited directly, again suggesting it is already known which systems are in that category, so at least a cursory visit has already happened.

The Falcon had been specially designed at the request of High Consul Duarte specifically for her, and it had only one mission: to visit the gate network’s “dead systems”

So the greatest diameter of the systems covered by the ring network was around 1000 light years. I can't see anything to indicate where it was centered with respect to Sol.

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    The part about Duarte's search for a disposable solar system to use for bombing the destructive gate entities is instructive. Duarte fancied himself as leader of a "galaxy spanning empire" when in fact the volume appears to be an absolutely miniscule fraction of the Milky Way galaxy.
    – BradV
    Commented Sep 30, 2023 at 20:29

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