Hub Space Annotations

Warning: contains spoilers

The Concept

The Hub, a single point that can connect instantaneously to anywhere in the galaxy, was indirectly inspired by the title object from “The Aleph,” a 1949 story by Jorge Luis Borges.  From Wikipedia: “In Borges’s story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion.”  The idea that its destinations are unpredictable bears only a coincidental similarity to slipstream drive from Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, another FTL system in which new locations had to be discovered by trial and error; the concept of the Hub predated Andromeda.  I made it unpredictable for story reasons; the idea of a Hub scout, someone who randomly seeks out new destinations and lives a life of constant tedium and the not-inconsiderable risk of instant death, made a perfectly horrible job for Nashira, yet one with an element of adventure.

The idea of locating the Hub at the center of mass of the galactic halo was a late addition, occurring to me in 2007.  It was later that same year that I figured out the beam system for getting back to the Hub.

The Time

The story takes place sometime in the late 21st century, 34 years after Earth is discovered by a Hub scout and brought into contact with the galaxy.  This occurred at a point where the Earth’s environmental crises had reached a particularly drastic point, sometime mid-century.  I haven’t pinned down a precise date, but it’s probably somewhere between 2085 and 2100.

The Characters

David LaMacchia: In his mid- to late twenties, he’s from the American Midwest, though not as rural an area as Nashira assumes.  The name is intended to evoke both David & Goliath and Don Quixote de la Mancha.  He doesn’t have much backstory yet, because he’s more about where he’s going than where he’s been.  Suffice to say that, like similar characters such as Fry from Futurama and Eugene Gurkin from the 2007 sitcom The Knights of Prosperity, his life back on Earth probably didn’t amount to much, and his dreams were the only special thing about him.

Nashira Wing: A 33-year-old native of Hong Kong, born just after Hub contact.  Named for the star Nashira (Gamma Capricorni), whose name means “bringer of good news.”  Clearly her parents were optimistic about the promise of contact with the galaxy.  Maybe that’s why the reality has made her so cynical.  But Gamma Cap is a hot variable star, well-suited to Ms. Wing’s fiery personality.  Nashira travelled all over Australasia growing up; her accent is most likely a mix of Cantonese and Australian.  I initially modeled the character on Lucy Liu, though Li Xiaolu from the movie Push (the “Pop Girl” who was Dakota Fanning’s nemesis) strikes me as a good candidate. Stephanie Jacobsen would also be a good candidate, since she, much like Nashira, is a Hong Kong native with an Australian upbringing.

Rynyan Zynara ad Surynyyyyyy’a: “Rynyan” rhymes with “minion.”  The six consecutive Ys in his surname represent a prolonged, trilled “ee” sound.  He’s fairly young for a Sosyryn, but significantly older than the human characters; his naivete is more a result of how sheltered and privileged his life has been.  He gets around a lot, but sees the galaxy through the filter of his class privilege, like Phileas Fogg travelling around the world to win a bet but barely giving a second look to the indigenous cultures along the way.  My original character notes say: “Imagine, if such a thing is imaginable, a fusion of Niles Crane and Jethro Bodine.  (Upper-class and pompous, but enthusiastic and innocent.  The intellect sort of averages out.)”  In my head, he has David Hyde-Pierce’s voice.  But there’s also a lot of Buffy‘s Cordelia Chase in him, the kind of comedic character who has no filter and will casually blurt out things that no polite person would say.  There’s no malice to him, but not much sensitivity either.

The Setting

The Hub is located at the center of mass of the galaxy’s dark-matter halo, which extends out to 300,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy, and allows travel to any point within that halo.  This encompasses the Milky Way proper, its halo of stars and globular clusters, and eight satellite galaxies:

Canis Major Dwarf irregular 25,000 ly from Earth
Sagittarius Dwarf (SagDEG) elliptical 81,000 ly
Large Magellanic Cloud irregular 160,000 ly
Small Magellanic Cloud irregular 190,000 ly
Ursa Major II Dwarf spheroidal 200,000 ly
Ursa Minor Dwarf elliptical 205,500 ly
Draco Dwarf elliptical 248,000 ly
Sculptor Dwarf elliptical 254,000 ly

You can learn more about them at the following links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way’s_satellite_galaxies
http://messier.seds.org/more/local.html

Wikipedia’s page actually places ten satellites within the 300 kly radius, but I said eight in the story.  The halo could be smaller than estimated or irregular enough to leave out some of the further galaxies.

The center of mass of this total system is not contiguous with the center of the Milky Way itself.  I figure the mass of the Magellanic Clouds is enough to nudge it a few thousand parsecs in their direction.  Hence, the Hub is “just south of the far end of the central bar” of the Milky Way.  And yes, we now know the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy.

Dwarf elliptical and spheroidal galaxies have little active star formation, and are unlikely to have many habitable planetary systems as a result.  Most species in the Hub Network are thus from the Milky Way or the Magellanic Clouds, but there are probably settlements in all the galaxies in the network.

Spoiler Notes: Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy

These updated notes cover the revised, collected edition of the Hub stories, including the changes and additions to the original tales. The ebook edition has no fixed page numbering, but the page numbers in the respective Analog issues are included.

Chapter
(Hub Space)
Page
(Analog)
“The Hub of the Matter” (Originally published in Analog March 2010)
The alien names in this story (Hijjeg, Jiodeyn, Sosyryn, Zeghryk, Dosperhag, etc.) were created by typing a long random string of characters, picking out interesting segments, and tweaking them to be more phonetic.
1 76 New additions to the first scene include the third paragraph (about the other passengers on the shuttle) and an elaboration on the “He was here” passage in paragraph 4. I felt the original opening was a little cursory. Naturally the second reference to the L’myekist monks a few paragraphs later was also added.
77 The hotel-room conversation between David and the clerk was written years before the rest of the story.  It was originally even longer.  This is a good example of the kind of humor I was going for here: Taking a relatively credible SF premise (tesseract rooms) and deriving comedy from characters’ reactions, misunderstandings, and so forth.  Yolien and David are approaching the conversation with two incompatible sets of assumptions, both of which make perfect sense by their own lights.
I generally try to avoid humanoid aliens in my original fiction, but I make an exception for the Hub, since I conceived it as a sitcom and still have some hope of selling the TV rights someday.  It helps that the Hubstations are somewhat organized by body type and environmental needs, so that most of the denizens of Hubstation 3742 would tend to be upright bipeds.  There could be far more exotic forms elsewhere.
79 I changed “thirty-four years ago” to “in 2058” at the end of the chapter, since I mention the 34-year interval in the next scene, and I wanted to specify at last just when the stories take place. This establishes 2092 as the date of the Hub stories. David was born in 2065 and is 27 years old, while Nashira is 33, born in 2059.
2 79 “Her name was Nashira Wing, and she’d spent a lifetime trying to live it down. It was just her rotten luck that she’d turned out to be better at piloting than anything else.” — These are my favorite lines in the whole story.  They sum her up marvelously.
The original text read “She often welcomed the ‘dragon lady’ severity her crisp Asian features and sharp-edged soprano could assume.” I had not realized at the time that many consider “dragon lady” an ethnic slur. I haven’t received any complaints, but I felt it was appropriate to remove it.
80 Rynyan’s flirtatious interest in Nashira is the other reason he needs to be reasonably humanoid.
81-2 I don’t remember how I came up with the Zeghryk, but I like the way the Kred character turned out.  The premise is plausible — a race of prolific breeders undergoing explosive population growth thanks to Hub-provided prosperity and trying to cope with the bad PR that results — and the humor arises from the absurd way they choose to deal with the problem.  Absurd physics or biology is unbelievable, but people, governments, and societies making absurd choices is all too realistic.  More importantly, Kred makes a good foil for Nashira, and vice-versa.  She knows just how to push his buttons, but he still wields the power.
3 82 The first two paragraphs of Ch. 3 are new, and the second sentence of the third paragraph is amended to fit them. In reviewing the stories, I found I’d done a poor job conveying a sense of place in the Hubcomplex scenes. This is a common shortcoming of my work that I’ve become aware of recently, so I wanted to do a better job of scene-setting in the expanded edition.
The nanofog within the ships is a way to fix an oversight. I wrote the original story with the assumption that the Entropy’s occupants were in free fall, but I may have forgotten that in the sequels. The nanofog is a way of hedging my bets, as well as providing a form of inertial damping.
Nashira’s line upon launching appeared in the original edition as “Nice knowin’ ya, suckers!” I’d originally written a more profane version, but was asked to limit the use of profanity. Here I’ve restored a couple of the cuss words I cut out before.
83 As Stanley Schmidt pointed out in the editing process, Richard Feynman didn’t actually say all particles were one and the same, just all particles of  a given type — e.g. every electron was the same electron moving forward in time, and every positron was the same electron returning backward in time, bouncing back and forth throughout all existence.  But the idea is that David himself is out of his depth and making a layperson’s wild associations among ideas he only halfway understands.  To those unfamiliar with Feynman’s hypothesis (including Nashira and Rynyan), it sounds absurd enough on the face of it; while those readers familiar with the hypothesis will recognize that David is applying it improperly.  So either way it conveys the sense that David is proposing a ludicrous idea.
84 Admittedly, the quantelopes are less credible than most of the stuff in the story.  But the idea was too goofy to resist.  I tried to make it a little less implausible by making them cryo-organisms, but that’s still a stretch.  Aside from the portmanteau wordplay, the name owes more to the imaginary jackalope than the antelope.
The original story said that the quantelopes’ brains were quantum-entangled with “those of their relatives.” In light of the quantelope mating scene in “Make Hub, Not War,” I decided to change it to “their kith and kin.”
4 85 Paragraphs 2-6 of the chapter are new, added to fill in a bit of overlooked backstory about the origins of Nashira’s name, and to foreshadow some character threads from “Make Hub, Not War.”
86 I originally wanted to build a whole story around the idea of a ringed star like the one discovered here, but the concept was different; I imagined that maybe a Jovian immersed in a red giant’s atmosphere could concentrate the hydrogen in a ring around it, producing a structure like Larry Niven’s Smoke Ring (from his novels The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring), which is discussed at http://www.larryniven.net/physics.shtml.  I had the idea that maybe the Jovian could have inhabitants that migrated out into the ring.  But I could never quite get the physics of the idea to work, and eventually I realized I had it all wrong — the Jovian wouldn’t collect the hydrogen in its orbit, but would clear it out.  My story idea couldn’t work.But I just happened to lack one key thing for “The Hub of the Matter”: something extraordinary for David and Nashira to discover, a unique and beautiful vista that could move the most cynical of hearts.  I realized I could elaborate on my Jovian-ring notion, using a system of Jovians like shepherd moons to create an immense ring system.  As far as I can figure out, there’s nothing impossible about this scenario, though it would be ephemeral in cosmic terms.
In the original, Nashira says “One quick scan and then we go back!” after she’s already taken a scan. This was an error that I tried to correct in editing, but my notes somehow got lost in the mail. I’ve updated it to “One last scan for parallax readings.” Parallax is the change between views from different positions, and I figure that this technique could refine the ship’s scans of the positions of objects in the system and the scale of the system overall, as well as possibly detecting things that could be hidden by the star or planets. In fact, the scene doesn’t allow Nashira time to gain a lot of distance for a good parallax scan, but that’s where the nanofog established earlier comes in, since the inertial damping could let the ship accelerate harder and get the scans done faster. It’s still fudging things, but I can live with it.
Nashira’s line after “Stop deluding yourself, kid” was the other instance where I felt it appropriate to restore the profanity cut from the magazine edition.
88 Another error I’m glad to correct: The original passage after Rynyan’s “Oh, I called them hours ago!” read, “While you were doing the system scan. The quantelopes were fine when I used them. Oh, I do hope I didn’t break something. If so, I’ll pay for—” This creates a timing error, since Rynyan doesn’t learn he can stake a claim until after the initial scans.  Unfortunately, this implies that the quantelopes died very quickly and obscures the fact that Rynyan had nothing to do with their demise.
Interlude 1 When I initially combined the stories into one piece, the transition from the final scene of “The Hub of the Matter” to the opening of “Home is Where the Hub Is” was too abrupt. I felt I needed to insert something in between them for pacing, and the interstitial bits let me show some glimpses of Hub Network life from a nonhuman perspective.
 
“Home is Where the Hub Is” (Originally published in Analog December 2010)
The plot of this story was inspired by a subplot in an episode of House, M.D.  The character of Wilson had discovered that he’d misdiagnosed a patient with terminal cancer, and expected the man to be thrilled to learn he’d live after all.  Instead, the man was upset.  He’d gotten his affairs in order, rid himself of most of his possessions, and made peace with the impending end.  Having more life ahead of him created new problems, so he wasn’t happy about it.  I was intrigued by the idea, and wanted to do something similar with the Hub. Many Hubpoints are inconvenient, forcing societies to go to great lengths to migrate closer to them.  What if a society had invested so totally in the move that, when a new, more convenient Hubpoint was discovered, they were more upset than elated?
It was hard to make it work, though.  In early drafts, the Ziovris came off more as an oppressive government keeping its people in the dark about the better Hubpoint.  The original idea of the society as a whole reacting negatively to good news was lost.  It wasn’t until I recaptured that idea that I decided the story was ready.  In the final version, the Ziovris aren’t so much an oppressed people as a very self-regimented people.  Their dialogue is written to suggest that they simply don’t acknowledge the reality of things outside their rigid expectations and formulas.
As I said on the main page, the only way to justify Nashira making another big discovery so soon after the first was if it wasn’t really her discovery.  My first thought was that another Hub scout had found the closer Hubpoint, recognized the trouble it would cause, pretended they’d found nothing, and arranged for Nashira to follow that vector.  That was too awkward, but eventually I hit on the idea that its discoverer had simply chosen to disappear, leading the Hub authorities to treat it as a dangerous vector — one they didn’t expect David and Nashira to return from.
1 72 “Suite 47”:  I couldn’t resist a Star Trek in-joke.  The number 47 crops up all over the place in the 1980s-2000s incarnations of that franchise.
The three paragraphs after “What a waste of good perfume,” and the first sentence and a half of the following paragraph, are new, intended to correct an oversight. I realized that in the original stories, I and the characters had been taking heteronormativity for granted. Nashira just assumed that David’s lack of interest was due to cluelessness; how did she know he wasn’t gay? So I felt it important to establish how Nashira knew that David was capable of interest in women. But so long as I was questioning heteronormativity, I realized I might as well establish David as bisexual. It makes sense; though he’s not the promiscuous or sexually aggressive type, he is an open-minded, curious sort who generally thinks well of everyone, so it seems quite believable that he’d take the same approach to his romantic life.
For what it’s worth, this makes David the third lead character in my original fiction to be established as bisexual, after Emerald Blair in Only Superhuman and Mariposa in “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing”, and the first male one. Admittedly this is a throwaway revelation to correct an oversight, but now that I know, it may come into play in future stories.
72-3 A couple of bits of redundant exposition about the Hub are deleted from this scene in the collected edition. The line if it were possible to predict which entry vector would lead to which point in the greater galaxy” initially included “into that bizarre hole in reality” after “vector.” And after “You mean the fact they tried to bloody kill us” came an entire passage:
The Dosperhag were generous enough as a rule, sharing the Hub they’d discovered with the races of the greater galaxy. But they could afford to be, given the immense profits they made from their stake in the single means of faster-than-light travel in the known universe. If someone cracked the secret of the Hub and used it to create an alternate means of FTL travel, the Dospers would lose their position of privilege. So their benevolence had its limits, as David and Nashira had learned the hard way.
“…more slow dives this month than a base jumper on Phobos”:  Base jumpers are people who parachute off cliffs, buildings, etc.  Phobos is a tiny Martian moon with very low gravity.  Do the math.
73 This is the first time I managed to hint at Nashira’s Hong Kong origins, by having her swear in Cantonese.
More redundant exposition about Rynyan is deleted in the collected edition, after “it meant putting up with Rynyan as well”: The obscenely wealthy Sosyryn race prided themselves on their generosity and competed ruthlessly to out-donate one another; funding hopeless causes like David’s was a particular mark of prestige.” After “the greatest find of her career,” came “cheating her out of her one chance at escaping this life.”
74 The magazine edition featured a signficant continuity error in the scene with Vekredi.  In the first story, Kred’s race was the Zeghryk, but here, somehow, I accidentally called them the Verzhik — which is actually a name I’d previously used for an alien race mentioned (but not seen) in Star Trek: Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again. I have no idea how I failed to catch the error. Had I not previously used the name in a Trek story, I might have tried thinking of some way to rationalize the mixup; after all, how many different names are there for humans in different languages?  But as it stands, this was simply a mistake, one I’m glad to be able to correct at last.
2 74-5 The three sentences starting with “He counted himself lucky” are new to the collected edition, another attempt at filling in a bit more exposition while making (hopefully) a joke out of it.
75 After writing this story, it occurred to me to wonder: if Hub scouts are nothing more than “elevator operators,” why have living pilots at all rather than using robots?  I eventually provided a joking answer at the end of “Make Hub, Not War.”
I initially included an exchange where Kred subtly hinted that Nashira was in danger, implying that he was having second thoughts and was trying to warn her, at least until she offended him by speaking openly about his babies.  It gave him a little more nuance, but I decided it slowed down the pacing too much. And I didn’t save the deleted passage, so I couldn’t restore it for the collection.
The “center of mass” idea was something that didn’t occur to me until this story was in progress.  My greatest fear about this series is that I’ll stumble upon an idea that will easily explain how the Hub works and make it implausible that nobody’s figured it out.  In this case, I was able to get out of it by pointing out that the CoM connection didn’t enable predicting the random mapping of vectors to destinations, which is the specific mystery that most needs to be cracked.
76 The Ziovris were originally going to be the Viovris, but I changed it because, ironically, I didn’t want to reuse the same first letter as “Verzhik” for Kred’s race. Once I changed Verzhik back to the correct Zeghryk for the collection, it created the very problem I’d tried to avoid. But I decided against changing Ziovris back to Viovris, since I didn’t want to change more than I had to. Still, I wonder why I’m so fond of alien names beginning with V and Z.
77 The first story implied that Earth was still fairly poorly off, yet here I’m saying it’s prospering as a result of Hub contact (or at least is gradually heading in that direction).  There are two reasons for that: one, I didn’t want this series to be too pessimistic about the future, and two, this story depended on the idea that a Hubpoint brings prosperity, enough that a society would go to such monumental lengths to be closer to one.  At the time I wrote this, it was still a little unclear to me what Earth’s condition was. This was part of what motivated “Make Hub, Not War.”
3 79 Technically, the Ziovris head resembles a claw hammer, not a ballpeen hammer, but “Ballpeenhead” sounds dirtier.
80 Diu puk gai is a fairly strong Cantonese epithet; for specifics, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantonese_profanity.
The description toward the chapter’s end of the rolling hills out the window was added for the collection, another attempt to improve the scene-setting; but I didn’t realize until after publication that it conflicts with the earlier mention of an oceanscape out the window. But it’s easily enough rationalized – the suite simply has windows on more than one side.
4 81 A “food printer” would be a variant of a technology that already exists in prototype, the 3D bio-printer, which uses what’s essentially inkjet printer technology to deposit living cells in a desired 3-D structure, layer by layer.  It’s been proposed as a means of creating replacement organs, but it could theoretically be used for food as well.
5 84 I got the Dosperhag off David’s back much sooner than I’d intended.  But after they’d gone so far as to attempt murder in the second story, I kind of had to dial things back from there.  Plus this opens things up for me to take the story in different directions henceforth.  Although I’m sure there are other ways the Dosperhag and Kred can continue to cause trouble for our heroes…
85 Naturally, Nashira’s “new” job will be at an entry-level salary…
 
“Make Hub, Not War” (Originally published in Analog November 2013)
Part of my thinking behind this story was to get away from the formula of the first two stories and do something that was more about the Hub community itself than about Nashira making Hub dives. Since the core idea is that she’s unlikely to discover anything interesting, I couldn’t really get many more stories out of that, so it was time to shift gears and flesh out life within the Hubcomplex and Network. Although it took a different turn once I realized I needed to devote a large portion of the story to an Earth visit.
1 26 Paragraphs 4-7 of this chapter are new to the collected edition, though I’ve been trying to work in the hyperway passage for at least two stories now. I kept having to delete it for space, and it didn’t work at this point in the original story since it slowed things down too much at the beginning. But in the collected edition, the reader is already 2/3 of the way through and invested in sticking around (hopefully), so I decided I could indulge in a bit more digression. However, this does introduce a bit of a story change, since in the original edition, they debarked from Rynyan’s shuttle instead of the hyperway car.
In the original, I missed an opportunity in describing Hubstation 9. I was too caught up in the assumption that Hubstations would be indoor affairs, and it only belatedly occurred to me that the ring habitats surrounding the Hub could have simulated outdoor environments or even be something like a Banks Orbital — a paradisical outdoor setting to contrast with the cramped, rundown Hubstation Earth is stuck with. The revised edition thus adds a couple of half-paragraphs of scene-setting, starting after “mud huts and stone axes.”
The low number of Hubstation 9 is meant to imply that the Sosyryn are one of the older members of the Hub Network, or at least became powerful enough to warrant membership in one of the older and more prestigious Hubcomplex communities.
27 The parenthetical after “engagingly exotic females to watch” is newly added, and is another attempt to get away from my unconsciously heteronormative assumptions in the original stories. Rynyan’s tastes seem to run solely toward females or their approximate equivalents, since he’s shown only platonic interest in David. But if Rynyan were open to sex outside his species, why would he limit himself to only one gender?
Okay, it’s unlikely that Rynyan would use “a Terran feline” as a reference for the shape of  a Heurhot’s legs, but a more Sosyryn analogy would be unclear to the audience. My excuse is that Rynyan’s made humans his pet project for the past several months and thus has Earth on his mind.
Nashira’s suggestion that Aytriaew may be “a jealous spouse” is meant to imply that she might have been married to another female Heurhot (or perhaps other biped), not that Rynyan had slept with a male Heurhot. Nashira may not be bi herself, but she doesn’t assume heterosexuality in others – which is why I needed to clarify her awareness of David’s orientation in the second story.
28 “Root” is Australian slang for “have sex with.” As mentioned above, Nashira spent much of her formative years in Australia and thereabouts.
Does “the third y” mean the third of the consecutive six, or does it count the separate y after the r? I’m deliberately not telling.
And no, I don’t really know how “Aytriaew” would be pronounced. I’m still coming up with names by mashing the keys at random.
Passing through the fourth dimension would be tricky for 3-D beings since our skin only surrounds our organs in three dimensions. Consider a flatlander from a 2-D world, with a curved-line membrane surrounding its flat organs. There’d be nothing containing them in the third dimension; a 3-D observer could just reach in and pick them up, or if the flatlander somehow fell off its sheet universe into 3-D space, the internal organs could just fall out perpendicularly to the plane of its body.
29 Hooterville is the town where Paul Henning’s sitcoms Petticoat Junction and Green Acres were set. Nashira’s using it to represent the kind of backward rural community that she imagines David to come from.
The scene with Kred establishes that two months have passed since “Home is Where the Hub Is,” making it about three and a half months since David first arrived at the Hub.
In this case, the only change I made to the recap of past events for the collected edition was to change “a misfortune in the Ziovris system” to “the misfortune”. Perhaps I did a better job providing non-intrusive exposition this time; but to an extent, while compiling the new edition, I felt that the third story was a better place to recap the basics than the second.
I have corrected the name of Kred’s species to Zeghryk as it was in the original story, not Verzhik as I incorrectly called it in “Home is Where the Hub Is.”
30 I remarked in the series notes at the top of the page that dwarf galaxies like Draco are “unlikely to have many habitable planetary systems,” but that doesn’t mean they’d necessarily have none. A habitable moon — no doubt of a large Jovian — does seem unlikely, though, since you’d probably need a system of relatively high metallicity to get a large enough Jovian to support a habitable moon. But then, the rarity of the world might be what made it valuable enough for the Sosyryn to acquire.
ngong gau“: See the Cantonese profanity article on Wikipedia.
2 Despite what I said about not wanting to be too sitcommy, I couldn’t resist using the standard sitcom scene-transition gag that TV Tropes calls a Gilligan Cut, where a character emphatically refuses to do something and then you cut to them doing it with no explanation of how they were convinced to change their mind. Admittedly it’s a cheap gag and something of a cheat.
In the collected edition, I tweaked the description of the wind vanes slightly to clarify that they end “just outside” the fence around the city, stretching across the fields beyond; the original line read “at” the fence, which seemed a bit ambiguous. This portion was inspired when I drove through Indiana on the way to my Uncle Emmett’s memorial service in Madison, Wisconsin. There was a part of the freeway where the wind farms completely surrounded me and stretched off as far as I could see.
31 The age of consent in Indiana is 16, so Andrea would’ve been of legal age even if the band members she slept with were over 18. Although presumably she would’ve had to be nearly 17 when David was actually born.
The dinner scene was difficult to structure. I had a lot of exposition to convey on a lot of different subjects, and initially it came off rather dry. I eventually had the idea to intersperse several running conversations at once to give the scene a more frenetic quality.
The idea of turning to online gamers as military strategists is something I’ve heard proposed as a real-life possibility, though I can’t recall where. And real-life warfare is already becoming increasingly drone-based, so it seems likely that in the future it will become more about drones vs. drones than people vs. people. Perhaps I’m being optimistic to suggest it won’t just become drones killing people, but I am an optimist, darn it. And I think that as time goes on, society has become increasingly less inclined to violence and dehumanization as we have developed alternatives to it. Behaviors that were once acceptable, like private duels or blood feuds or slave raids, have become illegal and shocking behavior in more modern civilized societies that have legal institutions in place to redress disputes and injustices. So perhaps the rise of a technology that allows for more bloodless warfare could make the idea of bloody warfare seem outmoded and primitive. Especially if there’s social pressure from the Hub Network to turn away from war.
Yes, the etymology of “fox filters” is in reference to a certain “news” network and the political factions it caters to. There’s a trend in certain quarters toward an ever more aggressive denial of reality in the name of ideological purity and extremism, and I fear it could escalate into something rather dangerous if the trend continues. I wanted to make some commentary about that here. However, in-universe it seems likely that the corporate name would’ve become a more generic, uncapitalized usage by the late 21st century, much as brand names like “Yo-Yo” and “Band-Aid” have come to be seen as generic.
32 The reference to the canals of Hong Kong is a nod to the Ghost in the Shell feature film, as well as to the consequences of global warming and sea-level rise (which that film was also referencing).
Nashira’s view of the city is colored by her own life experience, and may not be an accurate assessment of its conditions in the 2080s-90s.
Again, the private David-Nashira scene was tough to structure. It’s a pretty intense, dramatic sequence, and interpolating Jason’s antics was the only way I could find to break the tension and incorporate some humor. The difficulty in getting the Earthbound scenes to work was the main reason it took so long to finish this story.
The plight of Asian refugees as described by Nashira is, unfortunately, not science fiction, but part of the real world today.
3 33 The number of Soijt shock troops is another reference to the 47 meme often seen in Star Trek and J.J. Abrams productions.
34 More structure: The quantelope scene was originally the story’s opening, until I realized it was too slow a beginning. Still, I needed it to set up Nashira’s attitude toward Zeghryk reproduction, and to set up the closing joke.
35 The passage of weeks suggests that we’re close to five months into the saga by the end of the story. “Make Hub, Not War” spans the longest time interval of any Hub story so far.
36 I felt it would be too dark for a comedy story if the nanovirus caused miscarriages, hence the line about allowing current pregnancies to come to term.
Originally, I never intended to do this to the Zeghryk; I merely set up their situation because it seemed funny. But when I was trying to come up with a story about how war or conquest could be waged in the Hub Network, I needed someone to have a motive to conquer someone else, and I realized someone might see the Zeghryk population explosion as a threat that needed to be contained. And that let me elevate Kred from a one-note joke character and take him somewhere very unexpected.
4 36-7 The first two paragraphs of this chapter are new for the collected edition, as are the scene and action descriptions in paragraphs 3, 5, and 7 and nearly all of paragraph 6. The original story revealed nothing about the setting of this scene, and correcting that oversight let me add a lot to the sequence, punching it up more as the climax of this entire collection. I re-read Robert A. Heinlein’s “…And He Built a Crooked House” as inspiration for the expanded scene.
37 The “Final Wars” are, yes, a nod to the Godzilla movie of that name. I don’t think I’d seen it yet when I wrote this, or I might not have referenced it. It’s pretty bad.
The modular delayed-action nanovirus is a variation on a technique featured in the first season of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex television series. So I’m kind of mixing and matching my Japanese media references.
See the Cantonese profanity article linked above to find out what Nashira said. The article suggested it’s a pretty awful profanity, so I felt it might be best not to say it outright.
Nashira seems a little out of character when she’s talking about David’s sad face, but the idea is that she’s unaccustomed to expressing compassion and is doing so rather awkwardly (and being overly rough with David in the process).
38 The sentence after David walks away from Rynyan, “not looking back,” is new to the collected edition, and the following sentence is rephrased a bit – more acknowledgment of the fleshed-out setting of the scene.
I’ve since realized that the final quantelope joke actually can make sense: if quantelopes are only willing/able to repeat the sounds made by organic beings, that would explain why Hubdivers and other starships need living pilots, since quantelopes are the only way they can communicate with the Hub or request retrieval. But of course it’s funnier without that explanation. Maybe I’ll clarify it in the next story.
Interlude 3 This final interlude was an attempt to provide a bit of resolution for the series arcs so far, and to show that Rynyan was trying to improve the way he treated Nashira, at least, even if the rest of the Network didn’t follow suit.

 

  1. September 17, 2016 at 12:30 am

    I downloaded the fix-up novel version of these from Amazon earlier this week and absolutely had a blast with them. I have always been a big fan of your Trek work, but here’s hoping for a whole Hubverse of stories to explore, just as vast as Trek. Any plans to release any more Hub material in the next year or so?

    • September 17, 2016 at 6:05 am

      Thanks, though “as vast as Trek” would take me about, oh, 50 years. I am working on something new, but I can’t promise anything about the schedule.

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