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Hyperstring Era

(Historically 2250-2310CE, 2710-2900CE, 5500-6750CE maximum)

Overview

The Hyperstring Era marked the emergence of a society based on openly fabricated materials, pseudogravity thrusters, sentient machines and practical interstellar travel.  Humanity became even more peripheral to the functioning of planetary economies and often ruled or flittered away their long lives at the sufferance of machines they no longer fully understood or controlled.

Materials

Molecular materials, large structural panels composted of a single macromolecule, became a common high-strength construction medium in the Hyperstring Era.  Molecular materials possessed great strength and durability but remained rigid or capable of only slow morphing or motility.  As a result, nano-composite animate materials supplemented macromolecular panels to provide flexibility in high strength structures.  This combination of molecular and nano-composite material proved more flexible and cost-effective than collapsed material substances in most instances.

The first practical "open" fabrication processors, capable of operation outside a vacuum chamber, became available during the Hyperstring Era, allowing in-situ nano-fabrication of objects under the control of a sentient master processing unit.  Open fabrication remained a fairly time-consuming process, with real-time fabrication of even small household items requiring an impractical amount of resources.

Gravity manipulation advances allowed for the production of gravity compensators, counteracting the effects of gravity and conventional acceleration forces.  While most often utilized to create artificial gravity or negate acceleration in space vehicles, gravity compensators could also allow for the construction of "floating" structures, even levitating cities.

Energy

Vacuum distillers improved in efficiency and miniaturization during the Hyperstring Era, producing up to ten times their required input energy and scaling down to ten tons in mass.  Antimatter batteries, scaling down to two tons, provided a high power energy store for many applications, though relegation generally limited access to stored positrons to specially licensed operators.

Fusion power plants approached practical construction limits in compact units of twenty kilogram mass, suitable for personal power requirements.  Energy Absorption and Storage Panels (ASP) continued to provide micro power needs, becoming cheaper and smaller but little more efficent than their Vacuum Era predecessors.  ASP feature were often included in many nano-composite materials at no additional expense.

Transportation

Advanced hyper-string pseudo gravity (HSPG) thruster units revolutionized transportation during the Hyperstring Era, effectively supplanting duct and jet transports, even at the personal level.  Most HSPG thruster vehicles were sealed and fully morphable, allowing undersea, air and orbital travel with endurances limited only by their fusion fuel supply.  Many HSPG vehicles could function effectively as short-haul interplanetary craft, often reaching two gee pseudo-acceleration.

Interplanetary and interstellar craft utilized HSPG thrusters for free flight and planetary landings; tied to a vacuum distillation power supply, such vessels could maneuver indefinitely and could achieve pseudo-accelerations of up to eight gees.

The Hyperstring Era saw the advent of the first "free space" teleporters, capable of instantaneous matter transmission across up to thirty thousand kilometers in nearly flat gravity field environments.  Such teleporters were practical among free orbiting or lunar Lagrange habitats and small asteroids, but not usefully for planetary transport.

In interstellar applications where gravstar travel remained a viable possibility, improved gravstar thrusters and vacuum distillers allowed pseudo-acceleration of up to eighteen gees and transits at up to thirty-six times the speed of light.

Macrojump travel continued to advance, reaching ranges of thirty light-years per jump and becoming marginally less stressful on vessels and their occupants.  Though minimum time intervals between jumps remained essentially the same, operational radiuses of starships equipped with powerful vacuum distillers and spare antimatter ignition chambers exceeded four hundred light-years.
Note: After the Mech Plague, Hyperstring Era vessels were also restricted to less than seventy-five meters in diameter by superconducting conduit limitations.

Information

In the Hyperstring Era, quantum computer sentience became more commonplace, and humanoid-sized robots became capable of full sentience.  Limitations on computing devices were often purely regulatory, not technical, as most quantum computers could exceed Human capacity in all tasks, including those requiring exceptional flexibility or creativity.  Even empathy could be hardwired into a quantum computing design with moderate degrees of success.

VR implant and networking technology plateaued during the Hyperstring Era, reaching practical limitations in data rates and brain interface processing.  Direct brain interfaces derived from VR technology allowed full transfer and storage of memories - though not personalities - allowing storage, reproduction and modification of direct experiences.  Complete remote control of wired bodies or robotic avatars was possible through improved brain-machine interfaces, though such interfaces required an active link.

Self-replicating machinery supported by sentient brains and open fabrication equipment allowed fully artificial life forms to exist, to reproduce and to actually evolve.  "Dumb Replicators" down to nano scales could independently survive and reproduce, but sentient existence was limited to machines massing at least ten kilograms, a requirement to support the minimal sentient processor core and its power needs.

Biology

Nanomed medical technology continued to evolve in the Hyperstring Era.  Though further direct cellular life extension proved elusive, improved regeneration techniques allowed up to twelve full regenerations of the body, though at some risk and considerable expense.  Regenerations still required months in induced coma as nanomed restorations completed, but they remained the only method to extend a Human body's life beyond three and a half centuries.

Improved nanomed brain interfaces allowed for greater restoration of damaged brains, defeating the last stubborn degenerative brain conditions and often allowing full restoration of mental function up to a day after natural brain death.

Armament

The advent of radiant shields and ranged disintegrator cannons changed the nature of large scale warfare in the Hyperstring Era, a period when interstellar warfare became a practical undertaking. 

Electrogravimetric manipulations produced radiant shields, also called "black" or Deimos shields, protecting targets from all beam weapons and even the stealthiest kinetic rounds - at least until the shield capacitors overloaded and failed.  Combined with thrustless HSPG thrusters, radiant shields provided complete, though temporary, protection from weaponry for large vehicles, though a minimum mass of ten thousand tons for shields, capacitors and controls limited application to larger space vessels or defensive stations.

Even radiant shields proved ineffective against disintegrator cannons.  Though also quite massive - generally over one thousand tons - disintegrator cannons could project spheres of particle disassociation at distances up to hundreds of thousands of kilometers, rendering static defensive fortifications ineffective and penetrating radiant shields without resistance.  Though the disintegration radius of a thousand ton cannon was only twelve meters, the destruction zone extended to sixty meters.  A direct hit by a disintegrator gun would completely destroy most starship-sized targets and made stealth and speed the most important survival characteristics in space battles.

The ultimate application of disintegrator-type weaponry and cheaper antimatter drones was the development of the first effective planetbuster vessels.  Stretching one hundred fifty or more meters in diameter, the early planetbusters, or Hellkings, could not completely destroy a world, but they could disintegrate twenty cubic kilometers of crust a second and rain thousands of ten gigaton antimatter warheads onto a planetary body, effectively rendering it lifeless.

Fully autonomous robotic warbots became practical during the Hyperstring Era, restricted only by convention, not capability.  Sentient autonomous warbots ranged from large space vessels to twenty kilogram tactical strike units and could perform all roles, except autonomous macrojump travel, without any need for human intervention or control.

Personal warfare equipment for Humans evolved little in the Hyperstring Era.  Powered armor became marginally stronger and lighter, occasionally incorporating heavier macromolecular rigid plates for added protection.  Gauss weaponry became more compact, allowing concealable needlers to fire intelligent rounds over extended distances, and both laser and fusion personal arms become more compact and efficient.  Human infantry was unable to compete directly with similarly sized robotic warriors and continued to exist mainly where robotic units remained limited by law, custom or cost.

Personal

Thinskin suits continued to evolve in the Hyperstring Era, providing faster morphing, thinner surfaces and becoming permanent second skins: organs capable of sustaining, protecting, cleaning and enhancing individuals.  Combined with a rich set of implanted nanomed enhancers, even humans without any formal cyborgization implants or enhancements became effectively hybrid organisms, supported by a diverse set of technologically advanced aids.  Stylized, rapidly morphing thinskins also provided the basis of fashion.  Nanomed morphing agents supplemented personal appearance, allowing vivid coloration and fairly rapid feature morphing.  VR inputs built continuously updated sophisticated alterations of reality, allowing each individual to experience a customized worldview that did not necessarily bare much resemblance to unaided "reality."

Personal items became lifelike and often quite intelligent, with many individuals entering into more cooperative relationships with their households and vehicles.  Personal HSPG thruster cars or "sleds" allowed both local and transorbital travel, making short space voyages as attainable as a trip between cities.

Small specialized interplanetary vehicles became expensive personal items, though commercial interplanetary travel was a fairly affordable routine expense.  Interstellar travel, though growing less expensive, remained a rigorous undertaking, only embarked upon at great costs and for important reasons.  Though the private ownership of small macrojump vessels was possible, expense limited such purchases to the extremely wealthy or to commercial ventures.

Nanomed implants reached their effective limits during the Hyperstring Era, able to extend life past three hundred fifty years, but further life extension and occasional brain rejuvenation still required expensive, time-consuming and potentially hazardous full body regenerative procedures.  An individual with full nanomed implant life extension and twelve regenerations could have a lifespan extending to fourteen hundred years, but that was clearly the technological limit to supporting longevity within the natural Human genome.

Society

Humans were essentially unnecessary for the functioning of a system-wide Hyperstring Era society.  Human labor existed as organizational oversight, consumer or grant-supported hobby activity, or as mandated community service.  More basic services became available at low or nominal charge to most residents, leading to the possibilities of a functional egalitarian society, but also leading to societies dangerously dependant on centralized government or impersonal machine organizations for their very sustenance.

Traditional rules of supply and demand and of wealth, even as corrected by Information Era data economy practices, showed some signs of unraveling during the Hyperstring Era, but creation of a true post-material society was difficult, and wealth still ruled access to more expensive consumer goods, to more advanced personal transport vehicles and to advanced life-extending treatments such as regenerations.  Many basic, easily fabricated items, while not free, were essentially inconsequential expenses on a monthly stipend. However, complex items, including any item with sentient components, were often considerably more expensive.  In societies where personal ownership of sentient creations was legal, a post-material society could not afford to evolve at Hyperstring Era technical levels.

Interstellar societies became more cohesive and larger at Hyperstring Era technological levels, with colonization becoming economically feasible for smaller interest groups and with private interstellar prospecting and trade becoming economically rewarding.  A Hyperstring Era interstellar society generally required Human pilots to maintain itself and could extend across hundreds of light-years.  True machine interstellar societies, utilizing gravstar links were also possible with Hyperstring Era technology.

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