Most Mondays I write about some aspect of the world of the Shine Cycle. Today I’d like to talk about travel in the Shine and Wild Empire.
Even by “the present day”, when the Empire has spread to far-flung galaxies and even to other universes, the most common ways of traveling from place to place are on foot and on horseback. This is partly because of the culture—leisure to live at that pace is highly prized, and the Empire is prosperous enough that most people can afford it—but also because quicker transportation, while cheap and readily available enough to be affordable when necessary and to encourage a sustained economic boom, depends on limited and somewhat more expensive resources, and the culture encourages frugality.
And, unlike here on Earth, transportation choices have been made based on the culture, rather than the other way around: the only infrastructure concessions widely made to automobiles and trucks is to strengthen roads and (especially) bridges to withstand their weight. Roads aren’t designed to accommodate fast-moving automotive vehicles, but rather to serve the slower foot and cart traffic. And many districts have public-nuisance laws that limit how much noise a vehicle can make, as well as (still more common) pollution-control laws coupled with workings to detect the source of any harmful pollutants that enter the jurisdiction that help their enforcement.
For commercial purposes, and for personal travel that’s more urgent (or longer-distance than foot, horseback, or carriage travel is reasonable for), the most common forms of transportation are ship and rail. (In recent decades, “personal rail transit” has overtaken traditional defined-schedule rail for personal travel.) Air travel is available for situations of extreme urgency, and may be the most common choice for intercontinental travel, but is expensive enough that it’s a rarity for shorter trips.
For trips to other worlds, or for cases when even air travel isn’t quick enough, there are two choices: spacecraft and metaphysical means. As usual, mundane means are cheaper, but metaphysical means such as gates are often instantaneous. One technology that has only recently become commercially available (despite being used by the Empire’s military for decades) is the spider-ship, a spaceship that runs at incredible speed along a rather thin, somewhat elastic wire.
One last, somewhat related tidbit: While most citizens of the Empire travel somewhat often, for pleasure (since, as I said, the Empire is quite prosperous) or to further their education, they most often make their home within a few miles of where they grew up.
Any questions or comments?