Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How to overcome a galactic barrier

What defines the edge of a galaxy? Is it just a dropping off of star density? What if our galaxy has a sheath, a barrier like the skin of an amoeba? Although galaxies are slowly flying apart in our universe, they can in principle collide. But there might be another reason for a galactic barrier, one made, rather than being of natural origin: defence against invaders.

Most Sci-Fi focuses on events and species inside our galaxy, but a few consider aliens from a different galaxy (Andromeda being the popular choice). Different galaxies conjure up the possibility of aliens being even more alien than 'normal', and the prospect of invasion by a race from another galaxy conjures up a pretty potent foe, since anyone who could actually traverse the unimaginable distances between galaxies is going to be seriously advanced.

In my story Galactic Barrier I focus on this scenario. The story was originally a chapter in Eden's Trial (in press, the sequel to The Eden Paradox), and concerns an attack on the barrier as viewed by an intelligence drone, Dapsilon. We see through his 'eyes' all the defences mounted to repel the invaders. He can't see how they will get through, but also knows they wouldn't have travelled a million years without knowing how to break through. The stand-alone story is actually a precursor to the final part of the trilogy, Eden's Revenge, which concerns humanity's role in an inter-galactic battle way over our heads.

In the story I also speculate on what lies between galaxies (because we don't really know). Well, to give you an inkling, as Dapsilon notes in the story, 'Nature might abhor a vacuum, but it is terrified of the void.'

The original version of this story was a bit too tekkie/'hard SF' according to my readers, without enough 'emotional engagement' (because the main characters were drones - no humans in this one). So I did something a little unorthodox - I made it also a love story. For those who have already read The Eden Paradox and are waiting for Eden's Trial, you'll find references to the Q'Roth, the galactic levels of intelligence, and the enigmatic Hohash, key to the whole trilogy...

P.S. Thanks to editor Sand Pilarski at Piker Press for the cool image she attached to the story.

(see 'Stories' on this website).

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