For the modern mind, space and time are the basic forms of hindrance. Anything that is away is too far away. The fact that places are separated by distance is seen as a bother. Anything that lasts, lasts too long. The fact that activities require time is seen as a waste. As a consequence, a continuous battle is waged against the constraints of space and time; acceleration is the imperative which rules technological innovation as well as the little gestures of everyday life.
Wolfgang Sachs Wuppertal Institute


What once intrigued scientists, computer freaks, and hackers is now a relatively ordinary facet of the universe. The Grid is taken for granted as just another part of life in the 26th century, along with computer gauntlets, holocast entertainment, and interstellar travel. It’s such an essential part of daily life that the average citizen of the day wouldn’t know what to do without it.

The Grid is an electronic, virtual world where businesses, governments, the military, and common citizens all interact. Vast amounts of information, art, gossip, entertainment, and data of all sorts infuse the Gridscape. Even paranoid corporations store valuable records on the Grid; there’s simply no easier way to access information across a distance than the Grid.

The Gridscape is, quite simply, the medium for all forms of communication. It includes everything from private, person-to-person holographic conversations, to entertainment of every imaginable type, to financial transactions, military command and control, and even religious services and espionage. Over the centuries, the Grid has replaced telephone, coaxial and fiber-optic cable, television, and radio. Now, it’s an instrument that encompasses and surpasses them all.

The Grid can no longer be divided into districts, regions, or even planets. It stretches to connect entire star systems. For this reason, when analysts rate the communications capacity of a star system, they’ll commonly refer to the Sol Grid, the Tau Ceti Grid, or the Tendril Grid. A system’s Grid quality is a function of how well it’s maintained and the bandwidth it can sustain. In turn, the quality of its Grid can make a star system a bustling beacon of modern times or a forgotten backwater.

The exact condition of a Grid depends on its location and its owner. The basic rule is this: the further out from Ur ring a system is, the less current its Grid infrastructure is likely to be. The core worlds and stellar nation capitols are home to the most sophisticated Grids in explored space. Exceptional cases such as Insight and VoidCorp systems maintain the most up-to-date computer technology regardless of their location. On the other hand, Hatire and Austrin-Ontis systems tend to lag significantly behind the tech curve.

Of course, at any moment individual computers or networks within a system Grid can be as open or restricted as their operators desire. Security on the Grid ranges from non-existent to extreme. Military and corporate sites frequently have strong security measures except in their public information areas. The importance of the Grid has created a whole new area of law within the general criminal code. Hacking into a corporations financial records, for example, is seen as criminal trespass. Protecting one’s Grid node is perfectly legal, akin to self-defense, so a security shadow that destroys an invading shadow within a company’s database had committed no crime.


The Stellar Ring is the most densely settled part of space, with cultures that span literally thousands of individual star systems. Over such distances, people depend on the interstellar Grid to stay in touch within and between stellar nations. And the interstellar Grid depends upon the constant work of drivespace communication satellites.

Within the confines of the Stellar Ring, drive relays serve every populated star system. As everyone knows, all message traffic between drivespace relays works under a delay of at least 11 hours—the time it takes for information to travel from one relay to another. The larger the distance between the origin and the destination of a message, the more drivesats it must be relayed across, and the longer it takes. Even within crowded Old Space, news can delayed as long as two days.

Farther out, delays between a communiqué and its destination grow even larger. Along the frontiers, information lag from the Stellar Ring can be quite long. Businesses must make due with information that’s days or even weeks old. For governments, maintaining ties to people, bureaucracies, and military assets is a challenge. For personal and professional Grid-users, information lag can be infuriating. Whenever someone wants to retrieve data from another star system, it takes a minimum of 22 hours– 11 hours to the target system and 11 hours back. And that’s if the data can be retrieved over a single relay—each additional relay adds another 22 hours to the process.

For basic communication and data retrieval from public databases, users transmit simple requests or use agents to find and capture the data and return. For more complex actions on distant grids, gridpilots must use Insight’s great engineering triumph: shadow technology. The gridpilot generates a shadow to represent her interests and objectives and transmits it much like any other form of data. Once transmitted, the shadow operates independently until it returns and uploads the record of its activities of its user.


Grid Ghettoes


For an elite few, the Grid transcends ordinary existence and is reality’s underlying truth. They are the gridpilots, masters of the virtual world. Their understanding of the Grid goes far beyond the simple user knowledge of the masses. Gridpilots create, alter, and control the electronic universe of the Grid. Part programmer, part mechanic, and part security expert, gridpilots can command their own salaries in the business world, protecting networks and grids, designing domains, creating the Grid itself.

In many ways, the opposite numbers of the gridpilots are the gridrunners—equally skilled outsiders who jump the rails and pick the locks of the Grid. Where gridpilots are designers, system administrators, and gridcops. Gridrunners are hackers, spies, saboteurs and radicals.


The Galactic News Agency (GNA) is an interstellar network of holo and Grid reporters who operate throughout human space. On the Verge, the TransVerge Network (TVN) fulfills much the same function.



When most people speak of “the Grid,” they are referring to the entire interstellar communication and information system that spans virtually the whole of known space. In truth, that system is not a single, monolithic structure, but the sum product of trillions of computers, networks, smaller Grids, and drivesats. The interstellar Grid can be thought of as a system of drivesat relay stations connecting system Grids.


System Grids are made up of all planetary Grids and other local Grids within a star’s gravity well and connected by mass, laser, radio, and other transceivers. As such, the system Grid is “The” Grid within that system. If a planetary or national Grid is the only Grid in a system, it is by default the system Grid.

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