Quiet Zones

Quiet Zone
Image from Steve Bowers
Quiet Zone in Lacerta

Rumour has it that every once in a while a researcher using data from the Known Net discovers an anomalous stellar system. It might be nearly anywhere, from the edge of the Terragen expanse to the heart of the Inner Sphere, but what distinguishes it from otherwise similar systems is how little is known about it at close range. Often a Quiet Zone is claimed by some polity but has not been visited or developed. Somehow though explorers, scientists, and colonists will have bypassed it and chosen other targets, or experienced technical breakdowns or financial reverses, or have had disputes among themselves, and have never made the trip. Or perhaps someone has actually set out but has not returned. Somehow too the full power of the Argus Array has never been focused on that area, or if it has then the data that are available have been shuffled into mislabelled files. In the end, the existence of that particular zone or of Quiet Zones generally becomes just another rumour on the Known Net.

Transapient sources, when questioned about these areas, may describe them in detail (unconfirmed detail), or deny they exist, or declare that they are off-limits parts of the mysterious and near-legendary Seams (sometimes called the worlds that fall between the boundaries of empire), or simply refuse to give an answer. A researcher who persists in publishing eir results may find that those results they are discredited, or that critical details that would identify the actual place are missing from the information they broadcast, or that their superiors withdraw their funding. In a very few cases, a suspected Quiet Zone is publicized, and sophonts go there, only to find what might be expected: another star system, usually quite dull and ordinary but occasionally with some interesting item in it such as a gardenworld, or some megastructure, or evidence of starlifting. From to all appearances, such systems have simply been missed by chance.

Most experts, and most sceptical ordinary sophonts argue that Quiet Zones are just what they appear to be: a statistical fluke, the far end of the probability distribution. However, wild stories and conspiracy theories abound: that they are secret transapient projects, systems in use by xenosophonts, or even reserves for Hiders. Such stories and theories are remarkably persistent. Proponents of these stories say that the few publicized instances of "Quiet" zones are a fraction of the true total.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 13 March 2006.