Deep Space Syndrome

by Annie Stein
Welcome to Solaris, traveller! Let me get you up to speed.
Solaris is a soft science fiction webcomic set in our own universe, kind of. Learn more by continuing to read, or click here to be taken to the comic.
Q:Where am I?   You're still in the system known as Sol. Except this time each planet is habitable and developed its own life. The people are humanoid, mostly.
Q:I heard something about a comic?   Oh yes! The main comic is still in development, but you can read the first few pages of the Expanse if you click here.  
Q:What's going on?   Sol is invading. The resentful sun sends its angelic armies: the Scourge. For now, they're being held back at Mercury by Penumbra.
by Annie Stein
This Article contains descriptions of bruises, body horror and descriptions of mental disorder.
In the endless fathoms of deep space between and beyond the planets, something beckons. It creeps upon those who are isolated, when their mind is tired and weak...
  Some of the affected call it the Calling, doctors and psychiatrists name it Deep Space Syndrome ( DSS ). The early stages are marked by fatigue and psychological changes. The affected shun human contact, develop a intense fear of open spaces yet seem unnaturally drawn to stare into space itself. Only in the advanced cases does the constellation-like bruising begin, and the hallmark of the condition; the ultradilated pupil reflecting lights that aren't present.   Deep Space Syndrome is highly stigmatized. Deep Space Syndrome sufferers are no more violent than anyone else, yet in media killers with star-filled eyes, driven mad by the isolation of space, is common enough to be a trope. Conspiracy theories grow like wildfire when even soap operas mindlessly joke about truckers unions being fronts for cults worshipping eldritch monstrosities. Many advocates have spoken out about this, and campaign for a more empathetic understanding of those who suffer or have suffered from DSS.


Stage 1

  It can be hard to distinguish the early stages of Deep Space Syndrome from what most people suffer in extended stays in microgravity: such as fluid displacement, lethargy and malaise. Fatigue is common, as well as muscular aches.  


  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Sore muscles and gums
  • Treatment

    It is recommended to supervise and make sure that any traveller in deep space is taking preventative measures, whether they show early symptoms or not.

    Stage 2

      Deep Space Syndrome is typically diagnosed during its second stage. At this point a sufferer is already showing significant psychological symptoms like a fear and inate suspicion of others, and an intense fear of crowds. It can be hard to convince someone afflicted to seek out or accept help even at this stage.  


  • Paranoia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Mild bruising
  • Treatment

    Psychotherapy is required to address the mental distress suffered by the afflicted, as well as spending time onworld.

    Stage 3

      Advanced Deep Space Syndrome is best known for the aberrant ocular lights displayed in the sufferers eyes. These vivid lights resemble stars in space. Sufferers also develop severe web-like bruising, especially underneath their eyes, and in their extremities.   Very few have recovered from advanced Deep Space Syndrome, in part because the afflicted refuse treatment. It is believed that the amount of afflicted individuals is severely underreported, especially in the freight industry.  


  • Severe bruising
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Delusions
  • Abberant ocular lights
  • Treatment

    Establishing contact with the afflicted, and attempting to recover them from space. If the patient can be institutionalized onworld they may make enough of a recovery to return to society.

    Risk Factors

      Extended space voyages   Fragile mental state   Substance abuse   Member of a Dogmatic Faith


      Regular Exercise is crucial. Physicians recommend at least two and a half hours of exercise every day when in microgravity to maintain normal functioning.   Blood Infusions should not be used as an alternative to exercise, but can help replenish some of the blood loss in microgravity.   Social Contact is not only important to identify DSS early, but also to make sure the individual still feels connected even in deep space.   Rest is key to a healthy mind. The use of stimulants, especially eugeroic drugs such as inSomnia, and subconcious autopilot programmes is highly discouraged.
    Weakness, bruising, paranoia, dilated pupils, abberant ocular lights
    Onworld rehabilitation, medication, psychotherapy
    Table of Contents
    This article is a stub . It will be expanded upon later.


    Author's Notes

    This article is an entry to Cato's excellent Unofficial Condition Challenge! Thank you so much for hosting this, Cato!  

    Please Login in order to comment!
    1 Jun, 2022 10:37

    Sounds interesting and scary. I would be curious to know if the condition is caused by virus, bacteria, environement or is purely psychological. Otherwise, excellent article!

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    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    6 Jun, 2022 15:33

    Thank you! They don't know what specifically causes DSS, but they do know that it is environmental. It happens only during extended stays in space, especially when people travel alone.

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022