Via Solaris

The river that led humanity to the stars

Connecting the largest solar system colonies, the Via Solaris is a Hypersea lane that resembles a river and is easy to traverse by starship. Its course has changed over the years, as if it is actually meandering. This was considered relatively harmless until 38 years ago, when the Lupus Exonis System lost its access to the Via Solaris. Since then, governments started preparing for the worst case scenario.   The Via Solaris only requires low Relativity to navigate. The massive starships traversing it would never be able to use other Hypersea lanes, due to their size preventing them from obtaining higher Relativity levels. These large ships can transport both Terraforming Seeds and large armies, which is what made the Via Solaris so crucial to the spread of humanity across the galaxy.
Main shipping lane
Very low



For millennia, humanity dreamt of venturing into space. Yet to reach other stars within a lifetime, we needed a way to travel faster than light. The discovery of Hyperspace let our ancestors believe this dream was possible and in 2372 CE they first succeeded. From that point forth, their knowledge expanded.   What they discovered was that Hyperspace wasn't like normal space, bland and boring. Instead, the interaction of dark matter and dark energy caused it to have main pathways, weather-like conditions, even physical objects. It isn't just Hyperspace, to us it is a Hypersea.   And Sol System turned out to be lucky: It is connected to a calm part of the Hypersea, which allowed for easy navigation to other star systems. This calm part is what we now call Via Solaris, as it was the road that let us wander from the sun to other stars.

Seeding the stars

While harder paths through the Hypersea were discovered and technology advanced to make proper use of those, the Via Solaris is still the big definer of humanity's larger settlements. The largest ships are incapable of sailing the harder paths, due to lacking both the Relativity and the ability to survive the rough waters, so to speak.   As a result, systems off the beaten path will not be terraformed as quickly. They're still popular for many different reasons, such as mining and more independence. But when twenty stronger ships are needed for the cargo space of one large ship, it simply is too costly to send large fleets.   Of course another problem these so-called Strata and Itinera face is piracy. Pirates don't need a massive fleet to raid for supplies, and the harder-to-reach places also allow them to sneak up on systems by avoiding the main routes.

Collapsing the curves

In 2773, disaster struck and showed that humanity still had much to learn about the Hypersea, when a curve of the Via Solaris broke off. The area had become rougher to sail, but none had expected a collapse.   The Lupis Exonis System had gone through a few natural disasters in the years beforehand, and heavily depended on importing food. One particular vessel, the CS Ramses, had been en route when the Via Solaris collapsed underneath it. It crashed out of Hyperspace and was considered lost. In reality the damaged ship sailed on until they could re-enter Hyperspace.   While smaller vessels did manage to reach the Lupis Exonis System, they could not bring in enough food for the entire population. Starvation and riots killed many while the system government tried to evacuate all they could. Then the damaged CS Ramses arrived, five months late. Without it, the system would have perished.   Since then, governments live in fear. What if their system is cut off next? What if we lose Sol instead, and with it access to all its factories? Every system desperately aims for self-sufficiency, while all are studying the Hypersea in the hopes that next time, we see the clouds before the storm.
"The entire ship just groaned. The sound of metal settling and stretching and dying. And then the alarms went off, while we crashed out of Hyperspace. Y'know, it's funny, back then all we could hear were the alarms. But in my dreams, I hear that second sound. The sound of Hyperspace falling apart around us, as it too got torn to shreds."
— Account of a crewmember of the CS Ramses
"You know the hype of adrenaline which turns into shock eventually? We spent literal days fixing the ship, counting the dead, trying to get everything up and running again. Drugged up so we stayed awake, because nobody knew how long the ship would last if we didn't fix it at once. The shock came after and never left."
— Account of a mechanic of the CS Ramses



Often described as measuring Hyperspace depth, Relativity is how deep starships are able to go into Hyperspace. Rather than calling it depth, a more logical way of describing it would be force and resistance. If an area has a resistance of 1, your starship must have a minimum force of 1 to stay afloat. If a ship enters an area with a higher Relativity than it can handle, it will sink out of the Hypersea and return to normal space.   A Relativity of 1 was the original goal and theoretical limit of Hyperdrives, and they got close to it at first. Via Solaris has a Relativity of 0.8 at worst, so it was rather friendly to these initial explorations, whereas the Strata branches are significantly deeper. When a new generation of Hyperdrives was developed, humanity discovered that the larger a ship, the lower its maximum Relativity. And the larger ships already had reached their limit.   Science and technology have kept advancing, so now small vessels can handle Relativity that scientists initially never had dared dream of. But the limit of mass remains, which means the largest starships are inseparable from the Via Solaris: They cannot be used outside it, and at the same time they are a must for supplying the larger systems. Thus the Via Solaris defines the beaten path.


Still waters versus choppy seas are terms a normal sailor will recognize. In the Hypersea, these turbulent waves aren't visible to the naked eye, but still are measurable by sensors. Tranquility ranges from the perfectly peaceful 5.0 to the unreachable limit of 0.0 where even atoms would theoretically be torn apart.   The Via Solaris tends to balance between 3.5 and 3.9, which is a bit unwieldy but perfectly doable for pretty much any starship. Sometimes stormy weather will make the waves harder to handle, so weaker vessels may temporarily drop out of Hyperspace to avoid these.   On the bright side, this high Tranquility means both less turbulence but also less obstacles. Dark matter clumps are rare and can be easily avoided. Much unlike the Itinera, which are akin to navigating cliffs.   Of course a high Tranquility is both a gift and a curse. A starship moves by pushing against the waves, so to speak. The smaller the waves, the lower the maximum speed. Even small rapid vessels cannot go fast here, which is why Stormfarers hate the Via Solaris. They prefer stormy deep areas, where they brave weather and dark matter to obtain high speed.


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6 May, 2022 11:50

Always cool seeing a solid Sci-fi interpretation of the challenge! I know some have trouble scaling their worldbuilding when distances can span multiple planets instead of a Fantasy kingdom or two, so something like this is a joy to read!   ----------------------------------------------------------------   Feel free to check out my Rivers/Waterways entry: Loch Mesner

6 May, 2022 12:15

What is a remote planet other than one man's kingdom? ^_^   I like going into the frontiers of these settings, same with Wanderers, but to go into frontier you also need a good contrast with the core.

6 May, 2022 18:08

Wow, this is a really unique and fascinating take on the challenge! Great work. I never would have thought of space as a river but this really works, these Hypersea lanes are really well thought out!

6 May, 2022 20:35

Cheers! The original idea is because I want space travel where you actually have to dodge objects, which has gone through a few iterations to arrive at the Hypersea. I like the way the challenge helped inspire me for the quiet areas and why not everyone uses them.

6 May, 2022 21:29

That makes sense! I'm glad you came up with this idea, it's really cool.

6 May, 2022 21:39

I really like how cleanly you explain everything. Awesome!

Here is my River Challenge Darkwater River! Come vist my world Pangorio for exciting tales, world lore, and RPG adventures ! Hypnosium is my new world I will be trying to fill for Summer Camp ... perhaps even sooner if the muse sttrikes.
6 May, 2022 23:22

Glad that turned out well. I'm working on explaining well while using less words, so my articles are less dense.

Sage RandoScorpio
6 May, 2022 22:08

It's cool you included the blurb on relativity. The context helped me understand that it was an important part of travel, similar to buoyancy, but the definition helped me understand a bit more deeply.   I like that there's hinting at possible disasters that this 'river' could cause. Cutting worlds and systems off, ripping ships apart, there's so much that can go wrong. That makes for interesting stories.

If you have the time, stop by The Ravmor River, my entry for May's waterways and river challenge. I love to hear feedback and see what others love or hate about what I've written. What do you want more of? Less of?
The Ravmor cuts through the dense Aristosa forest. Hiding terrifying monsters beneath its deep, fast currents, and ignoring forgotten legends could end the world around it.
6 May, 2022 23:25

Yeah I figured I should include a bit of technical explanation, while also tying it to the Via Solaris, so that the article works well as a standalone intro to the setting. And Hypersea changes definitely are dangerous, so got to keep an eye out when you're in a rough patch.

10 May, 2022 12:45

A good reminder that a single route is not always so great

10 May, 2022 12:52

Yeah, downside of a single point of failure. So you need to make sure you can handle being supplied with smaller vessels for higher prices, and not face total system collapse in case of being cut off.

12 May, 2022 02:11

Good work, I love the sci-fi take on the challenge. Definitely a unique interpretation thus far.

Feel free to check out my River Challenge entry Arresadi River.
12 May, 2022 09:29

Cheers! I was in doubt between this and a river in my fantasy world, happy with the choice I made.

12 May, 2022 11:01

A fantastic interpretation of what a river can be (and I greatly appreciate the background and variables explaining the key terms). I'll have to read more! <3

Snarky and Sarcastic to the End
12 May, 2022 11:53

Glad you liked the tooltips and such. I try to balance between 'the tooltips are a nice addition' and 'the tooltips aren't needed'.   I'll let you know when I have more! I intend to prioritize Stormfarers and Wanderers in Summercamp, they're new more-free-form settings. Other settings I tend to already have a detailed story in mind, with these I want to build the worlds more organically and offer myself room for both rpg campaigns and short stories.

12 May, 2022 19:04

Very cool take on hyperlanes and especially interesting how systems can become cut off from them! Depending on how far they are from the Via Solaris when that happens would they somentimes not be able to ever connect with the rest of humanity again?   The explanation for relativity and tranquility were also quite interesting and really makes it seem similar to a sea.

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
12 May, 2022 19:15

As the CS Ramses proved, you could reach the nearest edge of the Via Solaris, drop out of Hyperspace and keep pushing your hyperdrive to still keep up decent sublight speed. Might take months to a few years to get to the cut off part, and over time it may become deeper and harder to reach... So yeah you might reach a point where it would take literal decades to travel there.   Glad you liked the explanations!

18 May, 2022 23:02

Really a great article. I'm a huge sci-fi fan, and this interpretation of the Rivers challenge is really creative.

18 May, 2022 23:06

Thanks! When the idea came to me (inspired by what I already had planned for this new setting), I was real happy with it. I'm glad I managed to do my idea justice with the actual entry.

21 May, 2022 02:40

This is really well-done! A few people have already mentioned it, but I definitely appreciated the explanations for relativity and tranquility.

21 May, 2022 09:26

Glad you liked it! It was a nice challenge to balance that section, happy it worked out well.

Master Oito em Ponto
Abraxas (André da Cunha Melo)
22 May, 2022 16:22

This gives me so many Eve vibes... I love space and everything related to it. I used to be a big sci-fi nerd until I stumbled into medieval fantasy, actually. Loved the way you organized the text. Very interesting to imagine an "hypersea"-river would curve just like water ones.

22 May, 2022 19:37

Thanks for the compliments! Yeah, the meander idea came to me and I really like the consequences.

24 May, 2022 00:21

Very well done! You cover the bases on history, science, political, and personal. There are many stories that can be made from this article. I hope to read some of them soon. Check out my entry:

Capital Trade Route One
Geographic Location | May 23, 2022

24 May, 2022 04:21

Definitely will do both! I used the challenge to basically introduce the new setting, and plan to work on it more during Summer Camp.

25 May, 2022 03:26

I love the visual aspects of this theme. I do wish there was more reference images though. I understand it may be difficult due to the nature of the article though. I'm enjoying all of the links to help explain the terminology and world. Definitely worth the read!

Check out my article for the competition if you have the time! Vuolas River
25 May, 2022 04:50

I did look for spaceship images on Pixabay, see if I could find something that fit, but unfortunately failed.   Glad you like the tooltips, I tried to find a balance between informative and not being a mandatory read.

29 May, 2022 02:57

I love this! Such a delight to see a Sci-fi entry. Collapsing the curves and the quotes in particular will stay with me!