Canon Facts Backstage
Subspace is a mysterious and complex region which
offers both great benefits and great perils to those who utilize it. The
major benefits are obvious - interstellar civilizations such as the Federation
would be all but impossible without the faster than light travel offered
by warp drives which utilize subspace. On the other hand, subspace phenomenon
can be diverse, unpredictable and almost unbelievably destructive. The
following is a brief list of some of the major subspace phenomenon encountered
by the Federation since its formation. Note that this is not an
exhaustive list, simply a selection.
A phenomenon caused when an object is partially
encased in a subspace field, thus altering the gravitational constant of
the encased portion and giving the different parts different inertial densities.
Subspace compression causes stress to be placed on the object, and in extreme
cases can cause it to be destroyed on an atomic level. In addition to this
danger there is considerable risk of damage to the platform projecting
the subspace field, although a modern Starship is capable of withstanding
a considerable degree of subspace compression. The Enterprise-D once attempted
to correct the orbit of a moon orbiting Bre'el IV by wrapping a subspace
field around part of it, thus resulting in subspace compression. The attempt
failed, but as a result of non technical factors rather than any problems
with the method employed.
A rare and highly unusual subspace compression
phenomena was discovered in 2374. The anomaly caused an object which passed
through it to be greatly reduced in physical size; the Danube class runabout
Rubicon was shrunk to a size of approximately a dozen centimetres while
investigating the anomaly, although it was eventually able to return to
its normal size. It was hoped that study of the anomaly would enable a
better understanding of the mechanisms behind transwarp conduits to be
A phenomena which indicates the presence of a
functioning warp drive system. The Cytherian probe encountered by the Enterprise-D
in 2367 did not generate any subspace field distortions even though it
was capable of travelling at faster than light speeds. The nature of the
probes drive system remains a mystery to federation science.
A subspace link between two points in normal
space through which, theoretically, matter and energy can pass. Subspace
funnels thus bear some superficial similarity to wormholes. Lieutenant
LaForge suggested that the mysterious disappearance of the USS Hera may
have been a result of the ship being transported to Marijne VII when trionic
initiators in the ships warp core created a subspace funnel. Unfortunately
no evidence was discovered to support the theory and the ships loss remains
An area in which the fabric of space is weakened,
making it especially vulnerable to the damaging effect of certain types
of warp drive. The effect is cumulative, and excessive use of warp drive
spacecraft in regions containing subspace instabilities can result in the
formation of a subspace rift.
The region around the Hekaras corridor is rife
with subspace instabilities and it was here that the damaging effect of
warp drives was proven when Dr. Serova created a warp core breach in her
ship, resulting in a subspace rift. As a result the local inhabitants feared
that they would have to abandon warp drive altogether,
but in fact a modification to warp engine design has allowed vessels to
operate without damaging space in this manner.
Our universe coexists with a multitude of others
which occupy the same physical space but are separated by the phase difference
between them. Occasionally our universe overlaps one of these others, creating
a region of interphase. Such interphase pockets are highly dangerous; vessels
entering them are likely to find themselves marooned in another universe
with little chance of returning. Being in close proximity to an interphase
pocket has drastic effects on the brain function of Humanoid life forms,
while being trapped inside one is generally fatal.
In 2268 the USS Defiant wandered into an interphase
pocket. The effect of the pocket induced intensely violent behaviour patterns
in the crew, causing them all to kill each other. When the USS Enterprise
investigated the phenomenon Captain James Kirk led a team onto the Defiant.
The Defiant began to shift into another universe and Kirk became trapped
inside the interphase pocket as his team was beamed back to the Enterprise.
He survived for several hours in the pocket, having been protected during
the transition by the cushioning effect of the transporter beam, and was
eventually recovered. Unfortunately the Defiant herself could not be salvaged.
Interphase pockets are highly sensitive to disturbances
in space and any use of energy in their vicinity can cause them to shift
position and alter the timing of the periods of interphase significantly.
An opening in the fabric of normal space through
which subspace protrudes. High level exposure of space containing subspace
instabilities to warp fields can result in a subspace rift, causing vessels
to become trapped. The rifts are extremely sensitive to any use of subspace
technology, most especially to warp drive - any use of a warp drive system
within a rift causes it to expand greatly.
In 2370 the USS Enterprise was present at the
formation of a subspace rift in the Hekaras corridor, and was subsequently
trapped within it when the USS Flemming activated its warp drive. The Enterprise
managed to escape the rift, but was unable to do anything to repair it.
For a time all Starfleet vessels were limited to speeds of no more than
Warp 5 in order to prevent the cumulative damage to the fabric of space
from creating more rifts, but new models of
warp engine are able to operate safely at any speed and the warp 5 limit
has been abandoned.
A large anomaly which acts in a manner similar
to a whirlpool, sucking matter into it over a large scale. In 2169 a Vulcan
vessel discovered a subspace rupture in the Hanoli system. The Vulcans
detonated a pulse wave torpedo in the rupture, setting off a chain reaction
which destroyed the entire system.
In 2369 the crew of Deep Space Nine believed that
a subspace rupture had formed near the station, but the anomaly proved
to be a manifestation of their imaginations created by an alien species
investigating Humanoid mental processes.
A shock wave produced by certain types of explosion,
most notably those involving dilithium ore. Subspace shock waves tend to
propagate across an almost flat plane rather than in the three dimensional
manner of a normal explosion. The shock wave propagates through normal
space and can interact with objects within our universe, but its subspace
nature allows it to travel at high multiples of the speed of light. The
near destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis in 2293 produced a large subspace
shock wave with a double wave front which extended out of Klingon territory
altogether and hit the USS Excelsior, which was patrolling in the area
at the time.
A subspace tear can be created by an isolytic
subspace weapon. It allows a portion of subspace to intrude upon normal
space, presenting a threat to Starships in the vicinity. The tear can be
attracted to a Starships warp core, which drags it across space like a
zipper. Detonating such a warp core within the tear can cause it to close
up again, although this is not guaranteed. Such a tactic was successfully
employed by the Starship Enterprise-E when a Son'a vessel used a subspace
weapon against it during the Ba'ku crisis.
A phenomenon associated with the dimensional
shift transport technology employed by the Ansata terrorists on Rutia IV.
Virtually undetectable by conventional sensor systems, the effect can be
scanned with accuracy by an adaptive subspace echogram. In 2366 the USS
Enterprise used such a scan to locate the Ansata headquarters and score
a major victory over the Ansata.
A natural subspace phenomenon which links two
points in space time and causes matter and energy located at each point
to switch places with its counterpart. The two points can be separated
by virtually any distance, or for that matter could even exist within other
dimensions. Subspace vacuoles are attracted to the warp cores of a Federation
In 2371 USS Voyager encountered a planet whose
rings were riddled with subspace vacuoles which linked it to the Vhnori
homeworld. The Vhnori had been sending their corpses through the vacuoles
for a long time, believing that the phenomena were conveying their dead
to the afterlife. When Ensign Kim was accidentally transported through
a vacuole to their world he revealed the true destination of the vacuoles
and revealed that he had seen the bodies of the Vhnori dead before being
transported to their world, confirming that this aspect of their religion
was in fact false. This prompting something of a religious crisis on the
planet. When he - eventually - realized that such revelations were a prime
directive violation Kim effected an escape through another vacuole back
Captain Janeway subsequently noted that the Vhnori
beliefs may in fact have had some slight basis in reality, since the planet
the dead were being transported to was surrounded by a very complex energy
field which might contain the neural patterns of the dead Vhnori. Whilst
this may be true, an afterlife as disembodied energy remains fundamentally
at odds with Vhnori beliefs as revealed to Ensign Kim.
Last updated : 1st July 2000.
This page is Copyright Graham Kennedy 1998.
Star Trek et al is Copyright Paramount Pictures
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