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Feb 9, 2013

Teleportation

Long-distance (interstellar) teleportation appears as an alien-derived technology in Chapter Three of Exode. I previously started exploring how teleportation technology might be used in Exode. In this blog post I try to finalize my thinking about the limitations on teleportation that will apply to Exode.

Asimov's favorite imagined technology for interstellar travel was "the hyperjump", but in 1954 he published a story about teleportation: It's such a beautiful day. Actually, Asimov's story was less about teleportation than it was about people who did not want to teleport. Supposedly Asimov did not like to travel by air, so it is not surprising that he would write a story about people who do not want to teleport.

Exode assumes that within our galaxy there are several distinct cultures that each have their own types of space travel technology. In the case of humans, all interstellar travel by humans is possible only because of technology transfer to humans from aliens. Humans have been provided with limited access to teleportation technology, but humans have no understanding of how teleportation devices work and they certainly can't build such a device.

Teleportation door
The first use of teleportation in Exode is for moving Parthney from the planet Oib to the planet Clu'ten'iun within the Koly star system. Parthney is not aware that he was teleported off of Oib so he believes that the secret Interventionist base at Lendhalen is located on Oib.

Later, after several years of training At Lendhalen, Parthney is teleported to Klyz, an Interventionist base that is run by the Fru'wu and located within the Galactic Core. This kind of interstellar teleportation is intended to be similar that that depicted in Assignment: Earth. Finally, a third teleportation event sends Parthney from Klyz to Earth, a distance of tens of thousands of lightyears. The fourth and final time that Parthney is teleported, he escapes from the Observer base on the Moon and is sent back to the Galactic Core.

By the fourth teleportation event Parthney is quite well informed about all the uses of teleportation technology that the aliens apply to humans. While on Earth, Parthney uses a teleportation device to send Hana from Earth to Klyz.

For Interventionist agents like Parthney there is a serious danger arising from the use of teleportation technology to travel to Earth. In Exode, objects being teleported do not travel through space in any conventional way. Teleportation involves the transmission of information through compact dimensions. The process is similar to the way faster-than-light spaceships move, but teleportation is limited to movement between two locations where teleportation terminals exist. When interstellar teleportation takes place, the effects of the teleportation spread out and it is relatively easy to detect an on-going teleportation event near the destination. However, it is hard to detect the precise location of the teleportation terminal on Earth that receives a teleported Interventionist.

Gary Seven and the shape-shifting Isis
In Assignment: Earth,  Gary Seven teleports to Earth from a distant star system, but he is intercepted by the teleporter device of the Enterprise.

By the time Parthney reaches Earth, the Interventionists fear that the Overseers of Earth can detect the use of teleportation to send people off of Earth and they worry that such detections might lead Overseers to the location of the few teleportation devices that exist on Earth. Because of these fears, those teleportation devices are always moved by the Interventionists right after they are used to send someone like Hana off of Earth. In Exode, the teleportation devices are not small, so moving them creates yet another risk for the Interventionists.

Last summer when I wrote a first draft of the scene in Exode when Parthney teleports Hana off of Earth I was not thinking about the Overseers being able to detect teleportation events. At that time, I started imagining various contorted reasons to account for how Parthney would be captured by the Overseers. I now like the idea that an Overseer (working "under cover" on Earth in the role of an Earthling using the name Belinda Tement) first investigates Hana and her son and then is finally led to Parthney by his use of the teleporter to send Hana off of Earth.
The Search for Kalid

In an earlier story (The Search for Kalid) I imagined that teleportation over interstellar distances requires an array of teleportation devices on the target planet. For that story I imagined an array of 4 such devices at fixed locations equally spread out around the surface of Earth. In The Search For Kalid the teleportation devices were well-hidden and in no danger of being detected by the primitive Earthlings. But what if the teleportation termini need to be moved after use so as to prevent them from being located by Overssers?

For Exode, I'm assuming that the teleportation devices on Earth were provided by the Fru'wu. The Fru'wu do have some nanite technology deployed on Earth, so I'm trying to decide the extent to which a transporter pad can be quickly decomposed into small parts for easy transportation to a new location. Might it be possible to imagine that most of the device's structure is formed from nanites? If so, then in an emergency it might be possible to hide a teleportation device without having to move it. Simply morph the nanites into another form that is not easy to recognize as being out-of-place on Earth. When Belinda Tement swoops in on Parthney he tries to apply the emergency protocol for hiding the teleportation device and disguising himself as an innocent Earthling, but Belinda is able to recognize the truth. She hauls Parthney off to the Moon.
Gwyned in the teleporter at Klyz

In general, the technological sophistication of the Overseers is just high enough to prevent Interventionists from "spilling the beans" and letting Earthlings realize that in the time since the pek arrived on Earth 7,000,000 years ago the course of primate evolution has been altered by aliens. In the late 20th century Earthlings begin to make some anomalous observations that are evidence of teleportation, but they do not suspect that alien teleportation technlology exists. Only the Overseers correctly recognize the anomalies as proof of Interventionist activity and they rush to develop their own detector technology. Using that newly crafted detector technology, Belinda Tement is able to catch Parthney in the act of teleporting Hana.

Feedback

By presenting the story of how Parthney reaches Earth, Exode emphasizes the use of teleportation to send Interventionist agents to Earth. However, not only do the Interventionists send agents to Earth, but Earthlings like Hana and Gwyned are teleported off of Earth. New arrivals from Earth such as Gwyned provide useful information to the Interventionists about conditions on Earth. By the time Gwyned leaves Earth there is a rapid pace of technological advancement. When Gwyned arrives at Lendhalen her knowledge of Earthly science and technology is, in some scientific domains, more advanced than that of the Buld. With her help, Parthney goes off to Earth with a more sophisticated appreciation for technology than previous Interventionist agents.

Related Reading: networking teleportation terminals

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