A friend of mine described this book to me, and I was interested in it, but he couldn't remember the title or author.

Setting is in outer space and on a variety of planets, were humanity has launched its first interstellar ship. The ship gets captured, and the remaining astronauts are picked up by a woman who is something like an Inquisitor working for a race of sentient synthetic AI's that seeming can answer question using time as a variable, not a constant (ie, sending the question back in time?).

One of the things that stood out in my mind was that the galaxy in large had very loose laws of physics. Evidently, Newtonian physics only worked near earth, and spaceships would have multiple engines/means of locomotion to travel from point A to B. One sector had magic, while another had technology, etc.


That sounds like the Starshield series, by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, if my memory serves.

I read them a long time back (20 years?), and I seem to remember one point where the starship breaks down because they go out of a zone where the physics for it works; and they have to hitch up some dragons to pull them the rest of the way.

  • Do they even still write books? I'll check it up with my friend to see if this is it. It sounds like what he described, based off the summery I just read.
    – Jersey
    Sep 13 '13 at 21:57
  • 1
    Ok, so I talked to my friend and we looked it up, and it did end up being Starshield Sentinel. thx!
    – Jersey
    Sep 17 '13 at 15:38

Could this be Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought series? In this universe, faster than light travel and intelligent machines are only possible far from the galactic core (source):

  • The Unthinking Depths are the innermost zone, surrounding the galactic core. In it, no forms of intelligence, biological or otherwise, are possible.
  • Surrounding the Depths is the Slow Zone, which encompasses the Solar System. Biological intelligence is possible there, but not true artificial intelligence. Faster-than-light travel or communication is also impossible in the Slow Zone.
  • The next outermost layer is the Beyond, within which artificial intelligence, faster-than-light travel and communication, and antigravity all function. FTL travel is accomplished by making many small "jumps" across intervening space, and the efficiency of the drive increases the farther a ship travels from the galactic core. Starships which operate near the Beyond/Slow Zone border often have an auxiliary Bussard ramjet drive in case they accidentally stray into the Slow Zone.
  • The outermost layer, containing the galactic halo, is the Transcend, within which incomprehensible, superintelligent beings dwell.

The rest of the plot details you describe don't quite fit though so I'm not sure.

  • While not it, thanks for the input anyhow. Might check it out for squirrels and giggles.
    – Jersey
    Sep 20 '13 at 21:52

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