Wormholes

Tagged: Theme

Item of sf Terminology borrowed from speculative Physics; the term was coined in 1957 by the physicist John A Wheeler (1911-2008) to describe a hypothetical short-cut through space/time corresponding very roughly to the beloved sf concept of Hyperspace. Wormholes may be associated with Black Holes (another Wheeler coinage) and their once-fashionable but probably nonexistent counterparts White Holes. Such "Schwarzschild wormholes" would not be usable for transport – a point which failed to deter the sf writers who enthusiastically adopted the term. Wormholes provide an interstellar transport network in very many works of sf, beginning with Joe Haldeman's The Forever War (June 1972-January 1975 Analog; fixup 1974) and including Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan sequence beginning with Shards of Honor (1986), Anne Gay's The Brooch of Azure Midnight (1991), Jack Williamson's The Singers of Time (1991), Pat Murphy's There and Back Again by Max Merriwell (1999), Iain M Banks's The Algebraist (2004) and Gary M Gibson's Angel Stations (2004). More grandiosely, Earth itself is abducted via wormhole in The Ring of Charon (1990) by Roger MacBride Allen. A convenient wormhole in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) provides the titular Space Station with a steady stream of dramatic encounters without any need for travel. In Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose sequence beginning with Bright of the Sky (2007), wormholes are portals to an Alternate World. The Starship central to Becky Chambers's The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014) creates new interstellar wormholes as a freelance enterprise.

Traversable wormholes lined with exotic matter, another subject of genuine scientific speculation, are a favourite device of Stephen Baxter's, as in Time: Manifold 1 (1999; vt Manifold: Time 1999), whose successive wormhole portals offer Time Travel into increasingly remote futures. A map of all such wormholes (which were constructed by Forerunners) is the quest object of Pat Murphy's sf Hobbit pastiche There and Back Again by Max Merriwell (1999). Microscopic wormholes are central to the Time Viewer of The Light of Other Days (2000) by Baxter and Arthur C Clarke. [DRL]

see also: Farscape.

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