Hyperspace Is a Scary Place

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Shield me from the maelstrom, prove this ship worthy of protecting Your legions, who bring Your light wherever they travel.
Between the stars the ancient unseen enemies of mankind wait and hunger. Every voyage into the nothing is a confrontation with horror, with the implacable things of the warp, and with man's own innermost fears.

There are very few things about space that are not freaky. Contemporary space shuttles rode pillars of fire and launching one involved spraying 1100 cubic meters of water on the pad as a muffler to keep the craft from being damaged by the noise. Works such as Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Larry Niven's short stories have pointed out that (barring Teleportation) convenient real-space travel between planets has energy requirements on the same order as making significant holes in them. And let's not even get started on the whole 'infinite void of nothingness between the stars' aspect. Anything with the power to thrust people across light-years rightly should scare their astropants off.

Hyperspace, being Another Dimension or close, sets aside the natural laws that our universe and biologies need. It's sure to be mind-bendingly different and hostile to conventional life—even more so than the void of space itself. Clearly marked paths may be slightly safer, or ships may generate a safe field around themselves while travelling. If it fails, the ship is at best returned to normal space, or at worst the passengers are exposed to incomprehensibly fatal horrors. Authors will often take the time to point out that hyperspace is hazardous and fraught with peril, for both the characters and the ships that have to make passage through it.

But long dissertations on it sometimes just don't make this clear. So, to really make a point about how dangerous and scary hyperspace is, they throw some really weird, scary stuff into their vision of it.

It might cause those who look upon it directly to Go Mad from the Revelation (so keep those view ports shuttered tight), and/or infested by Eldritch Abominations that would have even H.P. Lovecraft reaching for the absinthe. If Space Is an Ocean, Hyperspace is that part of the map marked Here There Be Dragons.

See also Eldritch Location, Alien Geometries, Acid Trip Dimension, Ludicrous Speed and Time Is Dangerous.

Examples of Hyperspace Is a Scary Place include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Uchuu Senkan Yamato's first "space warp" jump is portrayed as a psychedelic experience, with afterimages, Yuki's (Nova's) clothes jumping about a meter to the right, and visions of the Yamato passing over prehistoric Earth, among other things.
  • In Gunbuster, this trope is used as joke to scare the younger space cadets by telling them that ghosts appear on ships during hyperspace travel.
  • Crest of the Stars has a peculiar form of hyperspace which is completely two-dimensional, except for a bubble the ships and missiles generate to travel in. Losing power and having that bubble vanish results in a particularly horrible death; people aren't compatible with two-dimensional topography.

Comic Books

  • Between the Fourth World, the Anti-Monitor, and Mr. Mind the DCU's Multiverse is a scary enough place as-is (assuming it even exists). But then it was officially stated that the Wildstorm universe was set there too, which brought in "The Bleed", the red gap between worlds (named for the space outside the panels of a comic book, of course).
    • There's also the Phantom Zone, also known as the Still Zone or the Ghost Zone. It's complete whiteness in which you can get lost forever. Zauriel, an angel, even called it "limbo" once.
    • That's not the half of it. The entire DC Multiverse is basically contained by an enormous wall at the end of everything called the Source Wall. As seen in this panel, the Source Wall is an enormous screaming mass of writhing flesh.
      • That selection actually seems to suggest it might be made out of everyone who's ever tried and failed to discover the secrets hidden on its other side. Exactly what it looked like at the start is a good question, then.
        • And just for fun, Lucifer, who may or may not be in the DCU once opened a gate into the Void, stated as being beyond the Multiverse at all. It was completely white, which doesn't sound that worrying until one considers that it goes on forever and literally the only landmark is the gate, which is going to get harder and harder to see... Note: the Void and the Source are definitely not the same thing. Lucifer also once got to the Source...and ignored it as completely irrelevant.
      • The Source Wall also imprisons those who try to invade, which also sets up for some easter eggs. For instance, you can occasionally see Doctor Doom in it (either a result of the Justice League of America / Avengers crossover or from an unseen plot on his end).
  • The times we've seen the dimension Nightcrawler passes through, it resembles hell.
  • In the Marvel Transformers comics, there's also at least one instance of Cosmic Horrors living in the void between dimensions used as transport medium. When they got their hands on Ramjet, they tortured, unmade, and remade him until they got bored and tossed him back. The result: a not-all-there Ramjet who is simultaneously Cursed with Awesome and Blessed with Suck: Being "tormented" at the hands of these creatures resulted in his becoming Unicron-class powerful, and keeping a connection to the void that gives him all kinds of Reality Warper tricks (above and beyond what he had during his time as an agent of Unicron.) Thanks, evil extradimensional god dudes! On the other hand, he isn't quite sane, and it's all he can do to hold his own atoms together. Not so much fun.
    • Later, by the Beast Era, they use the much safer Transwarp technology. Which has a chance of dropping you off anywhere, anywhen if you go off course. Fan convention comics reveal that "anywhere" used to include parallel universes and, presumably, void, until a group from one dimension was nice enough to build a safety net. They keep everyone they catch imprisoned in a single large city, able to move freely about it but not leave.
  • When facing off against a shadow-wielding enemy, Invincible and his foe get dragged into the shadow dimension. He is warned that there are unseen, horrifying things lurking in there and they make their escape as soon as possible. (These things are likely why the enemy, formerly the sidekick of one of Invincible's father's friends, went insane.)


  • In Event Horizon, the experimental hyperdrive on the eponymous ship takes it to a dimension of "chaos and evil", according to one of the people who winds up spending a short while there, which is effectively "hell." What's worse, something comes back to our world. Very Lovecraftian. It's a recurring joke among some Warhammer 40K fans that Event Horizon is a prequel.
    • Other fans point to Weir as an unnamed Cenobite. At any rate, there's certainly a lot of similarity to both.
  • In Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Oscillation Overthruster allows vehicles to pass through solid matter, through a bizarre dimension filled with weird creatures. One of the first scientists to experiment with it ends up with his head phased into a wall, and gets possessed by an 8th-dimensional nasty, turning him into the main villain of the film.
  • In Star Trek usually the warp drive either works or doesn't work, but in Star Trek: The Motion Picture a malfunctioning drive creates a Worm Hole that, in addition to being difficult to shut down, also sucks dangerous debris into the ship's path instead of deflecting it away.
  • In the film Supernova hyperspace travel is visually terrifying. It's easy to imagine the energies involved destroying the ships and everybody in them. And what hyperspace does to living tissue if your suspension pod is not functioning perfectly is not something you want to think about.
    • A fate worse than death, indeed, when you considering that end of the movie, hyperspace even goes so far as to take all the fun out of sex.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the "Stargate" sequence after making contact with the Jovian monolith. The montage is interspersed with quick cuts of the astronaut's various horrifying facial contortions, just to drive the point home. When the sequence is done and the astronaut is in the "hotel", his face is covered in wrinkles, and he looks as if he's going insane.
    • In the novel, the latter effect is explained as the result of Dave being kept in a kind of alien zoo until he dies of old age, then reverse-aged to become the Starchild. Presumably the film is giving us a very abridged version, or the aliens are just weird.
  • Han Solo invokes this trope by explaining to Luke Skywalker why it's impossible to just blast into hyperspace and avoid Imperial ships: it's too dangerous due to the risk of accidentally hitting something or going off course. See Quotes page.
  • Tom Hiddleston has implied that this is part of what pushes Loki from The Resenter of Thor to the full-blown Big Bad of the upcoming The Avengers: his previous Freak-Out was exacerbated by things he saw between universes after trying to commit suicide by wormhole at the end of Thor.


  • Larry Niven's Blind Spot. Since hyperspace is non-Euclidian, a human observer's blind spot "enlarges" to blank out views of this non-space outside the ship. This normally means that view ports seem to disappear into the bulkheads, no big deal—although, in one tale, Beowulf Shaeffer makes the mistake of looking out past his ship's disintegrated hull into it and forgets how to see, even forgets he has eyes, until he can force his gaze back to his control panel.
    • The Blind Spot has the unfortunate habit of getting bigger as times goes on in the minds of a sizable chunk of humanity. This eventually drives humans crazy; no commercial starship has windows in the bulkheads for fear that 40% of their passengers will be reduced to permanent, incurable insanity.
    • Niven's Hyperspace also has a "quantum property" that permanently removes from normal space anything that comes too close to a gravity source.
    • In later Ringworld books, things living in hyperspace were also mentioned. Plus, in The Mote in God's Eye, the instant travel thing (NOT Known Space hyperspace) confuses people and breaks computers.
      • The reason that the things in hyperspace are visible is that it turns out that hyperspace is comprehensible near a large mass. It also appears that what's previously been destroying ships in hyperspace near massive objects is the things in hyperspace EATING THEM.
  • While no spacecraft are involved in Robert A. Heinlein's —And He Built a Crooked House—, there is a spot in the tesseract home where the protagonists look past a fourth-dimensional corner and see—nothing. A space where nothing we can understand or perceive exists, not even blackness. The characters decide that permanently covering that particular window is probably a REALLY GOOD decorating idea.
  • Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle stories have passengers and crew taking some sort of tranquillizer before a jump, because of the effect hyperspace has on the human nervous system. When Donal Graeme stages a daring raid against an enemy planet in Dorsai!, he uses multiple swift hyperspace jumps to simulate a huge armada attacking his enemy, even though it drives him and his crew to the edge of collapse, with each jump leaving them more and more in pain and disorientation.
  • W. J. Stuart's novelization of Forbidden Planet has a scene where Doctor Ostrow looking out a viewplate into hyperspace, seeing nothing, under which is a suggestion of distorted stars rushing past at incredible speed. He turns off the 'plate fast.
  • Timothy Zahn's Cascade Point has a hyperspace which shows you Alternate Universe versions of yourself. Implied to be very disturbing, as it's essentially showing you all the other paths your life could have taken.
  • Isaac Asimov wrote a Robots story about a computer going mad when asked to design a FTL drive, as the properties of hyperspace meant that humans passing through it were temporarily "dead", and it was programmed to protect human life. And don't forget how the computer hoaxed the crew, during history's first FTL jump, making them think they had died and gone to hell. And filled the pantry with nothing but baked beans. The conflict between its orders and its need to protect human life warped that thing.
    • In the novel Foundation and Empire, is shown that traveling in hyperspace while being close to a big gravity source (like a planet) is harmful and possibly lethal.
  • Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar books have a form of magical hyperspace, which happens to be filled with a race of precursors that even some Gods fear. Opening a rift is a really, really bad idea.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has a Hyperspace that's rather less dangerous than some of the other examples, but there are risks. A ship in hyperspace doesn't properly exist in realspace, but can be brought out by gravity wells. In the case of planets and asteroids that means appearing in realspace in time to safely change direction and go into hyperspace again; in the case of stars, black holes, and powered-up Imperial Interdictors it doesn't. That's why it's considered dangerous to stray out of established hyperspace routes, and mapping new ones is hazardous. It's also noted that getting Thrown Out the Airlock is instantly fatal when in hyperspace, unlike in realspace when it might take a bit. One novel describes "Hyper-rapture", a form of madness caused by staring at hyperspace for too long; because of this, starships usually have windows that go opaque while in hyperspace. Beyond that, West End Game's D6 roleplaying game introduced "otherspace", a dimension beyond hyperspace, a weird place with its own inhuman inhabitants with Biological Technology wholly incompatible with the Galaxy's normal tech. The dimension itself has Bizarrchitecture even beyond the alien nest.
    • Said bugs later turned out to have come from realspace to begin with.
    • Staring into hyperspace for an extended period of time, if it doesn't give you "hyper-rapture", is said to make most people increasingly uneasy. It doesn't look "right." Death Star quietly underlines Darth Vader's evil/otherness/disconnect from humanity by noting that he likes staring into hyperspace, and doesn't feel the usual relief when his ship comes out into realspace again; similarly, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Cronal liking it.
    • This is mentioned when one of the most evil villains in the Expanded Universe is given a Fate Worse Than Death: by being locked in an escape pod and ejected into hyperspace. One escape pod has enough food and water to keep him alive for months, non-opaquing windows, and a very small area; he'd either go stir-crazy, get hyper-rapture, or survive those long enough to die from lack of supplies. Not to mention that rescue is literally impossible. Very, very bad indeed.
    • Going through a gravity well of sufficient size overloads your hyperdrive motivator (what you need to get in and out of hyperspace) and kicks you out of hyperspace; when you over load it, it can explode possibly taking the ship with it, so there's actually a safety feature that kicks you out before you run the risk of exploding. That's how a fleet of ships got most of the way through a system-wide interdiction field around Centerpoint station but still had to conduct repairs.
    • In one of the Han Solo Adventure books by Brian Daley (not to be confused with the Han Solo Trilogy by AC Crispin), Han kills someone by dumping them into hyperspace.
    • In the novelization for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, while the ship, The Salvation, is going through hyperspace, the Terror Walker tries to sabotage the ship's navicomp. While Starkiller battles it, he muses in terror that if the navicomp is deactivated mid-jump, the ship could either be blown to atoms or never return to realspace. Eventually, Starkiller defeats the Terror Walker by puncturing the ship's hull, causing the droid to be sucked out into hyperspace. Starkiller takes a moment to pity his foe, horrified by the thought of what it must be experiencing, even if it's a droid.
    • Hyperdrives are reverse engineered from the Force powered ones used by the Abusive Precursors after their extinction, removing the need for Force power. One consequence of this is that even dedicated scientists have frighteningly little idea how hyperspace travel actually works despite being a daily occurrence in the galaxy.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

Ford: [Hyperspace is] unpleasantly like being drunk.
Arthur: What's so unpleasant about being drunk?
Ford: Ask a glass of water.

    • Teleportation is also dangerous:

I teleported home one night
With Ron and Sid and Meg.
Ron stole Meggie's heart away
And I got Sidney's leg.

    • As Arthur learns in Mostly Harmless, Hyperspace is even scarier than he suspected; as the resident of a Plural Zone, every time he traveled through it he ran the risk of being catapulted into an Alternate Universe.
    • Traveling through a Dark Matter sleeve, as Wowbagger's ship does in And Another Thing, is even freakier, enhancing your emotions, and putting you in touch with aspects of yourself you never knew about. If Hyperspace is unpleasantly like being drunk, dark matter travel is unpleasantly like being knurd.
    • Using the Infinite Improbability Drive isn't so much dangerous as it is annoying, mainly because A) it requires tons of difficult math to figure out where you're going, and B) due to the Drive's nature, one isn't guaranteed to leave the jump as the species they start out as (it wears off, though).
  • Stephen King's short story The Jaunt features a family waiting to be instantaneously teleported from Earth to Mars, in a process that first requires them to be gassed unconscious. The father tells his two children a bowdlerized version of how the technique came to be discovered and why the gas is needed, skipping over the gruesome semi-apocryphal account of the first man to make the trip awake. Unfortunately the son hears enough to be curious about what the trip is like, so holds his breath when the gas is administered. The father wakes up on the other end to witness his cackling white-haired son clawing his own eyes out: The physical trip is indeed instantaneous, but the mental journey... well... "It's longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!!"
    • Worse than that, there's a mention of a man who'd set out to murder his wife by sending her through a jaunt gate, and not entering a destination. His lawyers argued at his trial that no one could actually prove the woman was dead, and the court promptly threw the book at him because the thought of her being lost forever in mid-jaunt, alive, was so horrifying.
  • In C. S. Friedman's This Alien Shore, hyperspace (called ainniq) is inhabited by creatures called sana. No one is quite sure what exactly a sana is, as they are imperceptible to human eyes, but common consensus is that average human being has extremly short life expectancy upon entering ainniq. There are people who can see sana and navigate starships to safety; the problem is, they also happen to be clinically insane.
  • In C. S. Friedman's The Madness Season, humanity allows itself to be conquered/enslaved by a race who has mastered FTL, because the conquerors told (and presumably showed) us that FTL would drive us completely insane; so bad, we wouldn't be able to operate the ship and exit hyperspace. This race is immune to this, however, because they are a Hive Mind, and thus feel no fear of death, and thus cannot go insane. "Without us, you will never reach the stars. Surrender." We did.
    • Our protagonist later discovers that this is not fully the case; only that particular method of FTL would drive humans insane.
  • Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time has the "Ways", which is a sort of terrestrial hyperspace: mystic gates—usable by anyone—to Another Dimension, which handles distance differently and thus allows shortcuts between the gates. Unfortunately, the Ways were built by Male Channellers after being tainted (though they weren't yet insane), and as such have decayed into a lightless, crumbling world haunted by Machin Shin, a terrible ghost-like monster whom even the minions of evil fear.
    • Less scary is the void accessed by the "Skimming" technique, which allows a channeler to travel on a platform of their creation through an empty void and directly travel to any known destination they choose. There are problems, however; fall off the platform and you fall forever, question the reality of the platform and it starts to fade away, and creating exits from the void where you aren't supposed to is simply a Very Bad Idea.
  • The Gray Limbo in Julian May's Galactic Milieu Trilogy. A virtually addictive "nothing": there's nothing to see, but it's still hard to look away. Can drive a person mad. To top it off, upsilon field transition (aka jumping to hyperspace) is incredibly painful to intelligent beings, and becomes more so the faster you intend to travel once in the Limbo. So painful, the effective top speed of a craft is determined by how much pain a person can stand without going insane or dying. Humans top out at around 180df (light-years per twelve hours), with two notable exceptions: Jack Remillard, a bodiless brain, who tops out around 400df, and the main antagonist, who figures out a way to enter the Limbo in effectively naked skin just before his Heel Face Turn, topping out at 18,000df, and then one of the primary causes of his Heel Face Turn is being given a pain mitigator—whereupon he travels several billion light-years to another galaxy in seven hops.
    • The Ships are a race of giant interplanetary beings who can be convinced to consume a passenger vessel and serve as spaceships through The Power of Love. One of them made the same several-billion-light-year journey in a single hop, albeit dying in the process.
  • Continua-craft in Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast don't directly show any scariness as travel is instantaneous. However there is a slight downside in that inventing one or even just working on the math required to invent one will get you murdered by demons. Well, actually hermaphroditic lobster-aliens who just happen to look like demons.
  • In a Cordwainer Smith story The Game of Rat And Dragon, ships travel via a kind of Jump drive and hyperspace is a non-issue. On the other hand, there are Horrible Things (humans think of them as dragons, and are terrified - this story was written before Our Dragons Are Different got up any steam) lurking in the darkness of space between the stars. They can be killed with intense light, but human reflexes aren't up to scratch. On the other hand, cats think of them as rats...
    • Cordwainer Smith also wrote a number of other stories containing hyperspaces which are scary places. "Scanners Live in Vain" has long travel through normal space induce pain and suicidal urges in unmodified humans; in The Colonel Came Back From Nothing At All the eponymous Colonel has his mind taken to be a pet for something during the test of an experimental "planoform" drive; and Drunkboat has travel through space3 cause temporary insanity and coupled with inexplicable powers.
  • Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe also doesn't use hyperspace per se, but its FTL is still a pretty bad idea. So bad that using it carries an extremely high risk of retroactively erasing its users from time (i.e. they are made to die before the ship was launched). Even races that have been spacefaring for millions of years stick with slower than light travel.
    • It's been said in at least one of his books that the use of FTL has caused entire CIVILIZATIONS to be retroactively erased from the universe.
      • There's also the shadows, who exist in a different "brane" of reality. Releasing them is a very bad idea.
  • Honor Harrington: People become violently ill from "crash translations" through layers of hyperspace, a place where it's possible to run into sharp gravity gradients that will very rapidly shred even the stoutest of ships.
    • It is also dangerous to fight in Hyperspace because the ships weren't designed with hyperspace combat in mind, since the vast majority of combat happens in Realspace. Due to how the ships work (they create a super-dense wedge of gravity, open on the sides and ends, making the ships effectively immune to incoming fire from above or below due to the gravity wedge. So, they don't have any armor plating on the top and bottom of the ships, because the armor would be more effectively used on the vulnerable sides and ends of the ship. In a gravity wave, ships can't use wedges (any ship not generating Warshawski Sails inside a grav wave will get dismembered very quickly, and you can't have sails and wedges at the same time), so even the most heavily armored battleship can find itself getting torn to shreds by a more manueverable destroyer if the angles line up just wrong.
    • The Apocalypse Troll, also by David Weber has an even straighter example. The higher levels of hyperspace are described using adjectives such as 'tortured', 'twisted', 'alien' and 'inhospitable'. Messing up a transition at such levels has a very high chance of disintegrating the entire ship into random energy.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: Between, through which dragons and fire-lizards teleport, is "black, blacker, blackest", has no reference points, and is freezing cold. It's also the dragon method of suicide... intentional or otherwise. (Going between without a clear mental image of your intended destination is a one-way trip.)
    • It also has no air. Dragons can hold their breaths for a surprisingly long time, but this is rather inconvenient for their human riders.
    • Prolonged and repeated trips through between also terminate human pregnancies. The Weyrwoman Kylara took advantage of this by using trips through between as birth control.
    • This also can save dragonriders battling Thread. In the first book Dragonflight, F'lar avoids being eaten by a wad of Thread that hit his face by going between. The icy cold of between immediately kills the Threads.
  • In the novels that describe C. J. Cherryh's Alliance Union universe, entry into "jumpspace" is psychologically traumatic for most humans, requiring them to drug themselves with tranquillisers for the passage. A few individuals are able to tolerate the transfer and remain conscious "in-jump". They are nicknamed "nightwalkers", a term that suggests the mixed feelings with which they are viewed. On the one hand, they make excellent navigators, and are able to react far faster when the ship comes out of jump than their doped-up crewmates. On the other, the rest of the crew wonder what nightwalkers get up to as they wander round the ship while everyone is asleep...
    • Of course, being a nightwalker is no picnic at first either, because time and space don't properly exist in jumpspace, which is why they're so rare: most sentient minds can't cope with the stress, which is why Hani and Mahendo'sat black out, and humans and stsho need tranq.
    • It's harder on stsho: without tranq, they just die. Hani don't need precautions; the non-nightwalkers are just useless in jump (and they all shed horribly after). Methane-breathers, who knows. One of the scarier things about the kif is the hints that all animal life from their world are nightwalkers.
    • One of the shorter stories, Port Eternity, tells the tale of a private yacht trapped in jumpspace by an anomaly, where all aboard, azi and born-men, have to become nightwalkers pretty quickly just in order to survive. And then they have to deal with the other things trapped by the anomaly...
    • In the back story of Rim Runners, N G ("No Good") Ramey was wrongly accused of being at fault in a fatal accident, and was denied tranquilizers during a jump as punishment.
    • It's similar, though toned down, in the Hyperspace of her Foreigner universe, where hyperspace causes muzzy-headedness. While this might not seem very bad, hyperspace journeys take a long time in the Foreigner Verse, so the unpleasantness gets amplified by social interactions and cabin fever.
  • In Brass Man by Neal Asher, viewscreens are usually blanked out while ships are travelling through underspace, but Ian Cormac suddenly finds that he can see something there. Apparently it's part of his ascension to a higher plane of existence.
  • In the Broken Sky series, the space between the two worlds (that is, the Dominions and Kirin Taq) is shown to drive anyone not specially trained to live in it insane. Indeed, in one of the later books Kia loses her memory simply from seeing a glimpse of it after a failed jump between worlds.
  • Andalite ships in Animorphs are capable of traveling through Zero-Space, a horrible, totally blank, N-dimensional void. Ships passing through are usually safe, but in one book, Ax was catapulted into Zero-Space, and discovered the full effects of the void before being rescued. Not only was he swiftly dying from lack of oxygen, but the non-dimensional nature of Zero-Space forced him to see his own body from all directions, including inside, even as his hearts began to slow.
    • Ax also mentions at one point that, when morphing into larger or smaller creatures, mass is taken or stored away temporarily as a balloon in Zero-Space to compensate for the size discrepancy. If the characters sharing terrified looks of their mass floating in the middle of nowhere isn't enough, Ax also mentions that there's a one-in-a-billion chance that an Andalite ship traveling through Zero-Space may run into the mass, which would then be incinerated by the ship's energy shields. Squick.
    • Well, that was the theory... until Ax and the rest of the team were pulled into Z-space by a passing Andalite ship and experience what is described in the first bullet. Essentially they were pulled along in its "wake" instead of being incinerated. Both of the above examples are actually the same incident, which would have killed the team if not for Ax using his thought-speak to contact the Andalites on the ship and getting everyone beamed aboard in time.
    • And then there is the time that a Negative Space Wedgie creates a crazy patchwork world derived from the thoughts and memories of the two protagonists (and the antagonist). At the edge of the world is Z-space. One character reaches her arm out into Z-space, and it reverses in on itself and goes back the same way. It goes back to normal when she jerks her arm back in terror, but the experience left her badly shaken.
  • In Perdido Street Station, the universe that the Weaver travels through is described like a spiders' web with strands going through more than just the three dimensions and connecting every aspect of existence. It is implied that the physical universe the main characters inhabit is only one facet of this meta-reality.
  • The British Sonic the Hedgehog novels had the Warps of Confusion (aka the Special Zone from Sonic 1) which Robotnik was able to tap into to teleport his ships around the planet. Anyone who's played the original game knows just how well those areas fit this trope.
    • Fleetway's Sonic the Comic treats the Special Zone in a similar manner. It's a weird place where physics don't really apply, and a planet and an asteroid belt and some swirly things can comfortably be the same place. The characters originally considered it to be some kind of insane 'other place' you really didn't want to spend too long in, and are shocked to later discover it's inhabited. Of course, the locals aren't exactly normal, either.
  • In the early Terry Pratchett novel The Dark Side of the Sun, ships travel through "interspace" in which all possibilities are true. Most ships are shielded against the trippy hallucinatory results. In another book, Strata, an Elsewhere jump can move your body so far that it takes time for your soul to catch up:

(a few seconds of vertigo, a brief agony of despair. Soullag, it was called on little evidence. Certainly something in the human mind refused to travel faster than -- it had been experimentally verified -- 0.7 light-years per second, so that after even a short jump through Elsewhere-space there was a hollow black time before the rushing mental upwellllll--)

  • Sergey Lukyanenko has different examples of hyperspace:
    • In The Stars Are Cold Toys humans have invented the jump drive, which instantaneously transports a spacecraft 12+ light years in a given direction (the distance is always the same). The jump itself gives any human on the ship euphoria like nothing he or she has ever experiences (the main character compared it to death). At the same time, any alien either dies or goes completely insane during such jump (the aliens have their own, slower, means of FTL). However, two alien races are able to survive the jump with their sanity intact: the Counters (biological computers) and the Kualkua (symbiotic shapeshifters). The former manage this by putting themselves into a coma by mentally dividing by zero and causing an overflow error, and the latter by temporarily pulling the Kualkua collective consciousness out of that particular Kualkua. The sequel, Star Shadow, reveals that jump drive is a product of human belief, not actual science. That is why it only works for humans. There also exists a network of planets connected by Shadow Gates, with the side effect of the Gates reading you and putting you wherever they deem fit.
      • The second book states that the Geometers have managed to combine both types of FTL travel into one: they take the ship into standard FTL and then start jumping using the same method as humans. Apparently, jumping while already at FTL neither produces euphoria in humans nor is fatal to aliens and allows a ship to cross vast interstellar distances in a matter of hours. The protagonist realizes that, as soon as the Conclave finds out about this, Earth is screwed.
    • In A Lord From Planet Earth hyperspace behaves pretty normal for FTL flight. But if you happen to use a catapult (one-person emergency FTL device), you experience and contact God - the future collective consciousness of the sentient races.
    • In Line of Delirium hyperspace is pretty much Sci-Fi normal, except for several daredevil stunts pulled by the protagonists. Those are launching an escape pod from hyperspace into regular space (without any guarantee of entering regular space anywhere near a planet) and later holding an entire battleship hostage by threatening to leave hyperspace at light-speed. The protagonists leave the ship and drop into regular space; ship and crew manage to survive the light speed space entry, thus being propelled into the future by Einstein's laws.
      • The first novel also mentions that there's always a chance your ship could randomly blow up in hyperspace, if its interphaser doesn't hold hyperspace outside the ship. This is likely more of a risk with privately-owned ships.
  • Pavel Shumil takes the Zero-T-systems of the Strugatski's Noon Universe and makes them actual 12D ways in our 4D space. At least one inhabitable planet found is actually a shifted Earth. As the coordinates slowly change, a protagonist is left behind.
  • William Gibson's short story Hinterlands describes a point in space between Earth and Mars in which space ships radiating energy at "the broadcast frequency of the hydrogen atom" disappear. Sometimes they return, sometimes with some fragment of an alien culture. The alien artefact may be useless or invaluable. But the returning pilots are always dead on arrival or the strongest of them make it through a few weeks of catatonia or drooling madness before committing suicide.
  • In David Drake's RCN Series series, ships generate a bubble universe around themselves to travel through the "Matrix" (no relation) of fourth-dimensional space, outside the normal universe where the normal physical laws apply. Too much time spent in the Matrix takes a toll on the human brain, and crews start to see things that aren't there, though it's implied that in some cases they may be seeing into alternate realities rather than hallucinating. Entering and leaving the Matrix is also usually quite unpleasant, and unpleasant in an imaginatively different way each time. Except in What Distant Deeps, where Adele becomes omniscient during one extraction.
  • In another of Drake's books, Starliner, ships travel through what's officially called "sponge space." Like RCN's Matrix, sponge space took a toll on the mind—it seems mostly a case of sensory deprivation—at least of those maintaining the drive systems out on the ship's hull. Informally, it's referred to as "the Cold," and Cold Crews get a bit warped from spending so much time out there. They're also hard to discipline: what can their officers do to punish them that's worse than their normal working environment?
  • In L. E. Modesitt's Gravity Dreams, hyperspace not only requires a Training from Hell to be able to navigate through, it also has a god who wants some reassurance that he is a god.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe has lots of stuff about the terrors of the Time Vortex the TARDIS travels through. The series itself, not so much.
  • The Gap that Stephen R Donaldson's Gap Cycle is named after isn't in itself more dangerous than regular space travel, but it does have some... unfortunate effects on the brains of a certain small percentage of humans that pass through it. This "Gap sickness" can manifest as just about any sort of mental illness, it is entirely incurable, and there is no way to predict who will contract it without actually sending them through the Gap and seeing who goes insane.
  • Anytime The Lost Fleet enters jump space the characters always get uneasy feelings and are only too relieved to get out. Jump space is considered so awful that to be thrown out into it is a fate only consigned to those convicted of treason.
  • In Speaker for the Dead trilogy of the Ender's Game series, a highly advanced AI is able to move things instantly from any point in the universe to any other as long as it has a clear understanding of the objects/people it's moving, as well as their origin and destination points. It does this by moving them outside of the universe. The weirdest part is that if a person spends any noticeable length of time "outside", they can consciously or sub-consciously manifest anything their brain can imagine and bring it back into the real world with them... including people.
    • Worse, if Jane is unable to keep all the data about the inanimate objects (living things naturally hold themselves together using philotes), the living things make it back among a chunk of matter that used to be a spaceship. God help you if your destination is the vacuum of space. Also, if Jane miscalculates the destination point, you can end up inside a solid object with no way out.
  • John Meaney's Pilot stories have mu-space, a fractal space which normal humans have to be sedated for travel through and which has all sorts of weird properties. The Pilots who can traverse it while conscious either have to have their eyes replaced with sockets for computer attachments, or naturally have weird eyes (the first of these is the result of a Pilot giving birth whilst in mu space, and the trait then spreads). The Pilots are implied to be drifting away from what we would recognise as a human perspective.
  • The Dresden Files has the Nevernever, an alternate dimension/spirit world that exists alongside our reality. The Nevernever's distances are non-linear and often connected to points in the real world, meaning that it's possible to go into it, walk five feet, and emerge a destination thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, the closest parts of the Nevernever to our world are the lands of Fairie, which are populated by all kinds of dangerous beasts and hostile sentient beings. It's also entirely possible that you will open a portal to the Nevernever and emerge beneath a lake of acid or inside a volcano.
  • The Dune universe has hyperspace only being successfully navigated by, well, Navigators, who are creatures so addicted to Spice that its physically transformed them into something totally alien. The addiction gives them the ability to see into the future and plot a course that will bring them to their destination. One wonders how many ships were lost before the figured out the whole "Mutate the volunteer" aspect.
  • Dragonlance has a very tragic example of this. In the Age of Dreams, the Wizard Conclave created five portals to link the five Towers of High Sorcery. Unfortunately, in creating an extraplanar means of rapid transit between them, they also unknowingly created a link to the Abyss. Takhisis, never one to miss an opportunity to come into the world, gave a black-robed mage a dream in which she told him that she was a beautiful woman trapped in another plane and that he was the only one who could save her. He fell for it completely. Ever wonder how the Third Dragon War that Huma fought in started? Well...
  • Vonda N. McIntyre's short story Aztecs (later incorporated into Superluminal) had a variation where the subjective measurement of time was affected; people conscious through the trip tended to die of old age. Passengers were thus kept in Suspended Animation for the trip to keep them safe. For the captain, however, the trick is to ensure the captain has no method of marking the passage of time. No clocks, and the captain has to have his heart removed and replaced with a quiet rotary pump, ensuring they have no heartbeat they can use to measure time with. Most captains keep the ashes of their own hearts to remind them of the permanency of this... hence the title of the original short story.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time, tessering across the fifth dimension is a terrifying experience when done by Mrs. Which. When Meg's father does it...
  • In The Tomorrow War by Alexander Zorich travelers in "X-matrix" suffer sensory deprivation. Only a mild annoyance for people who go through this regularly, yes. But less experienced travelers tend to hate it and are mentally destabilized for some time. May also be the reason of spaceship claustrophobia being a much worse problem than on submarines.
  • Vladislav Krapivin's Great Crystal series has a few people able to move between the worlds Book of Amber-style. A few of them learn the trick they call "direct transition". The traveler's personal space tears off the rest of continuum and soon pops up elsewhere—at a random place in random world, if he's out of ideas. It's mostly safe, but most avoid doing this, simply because before it comes the ability to percieve and understand that at an arm's length in any direction there's nothingness as complete as it gets—not even airless space. Those painting it with mental representations of possible entry points still feel the same. The boy who first in the books did it needed new pants after one of first jumps and another one passed out hard when moved forcibly by the first... upon losing cat-and-mouse they played with Secret Police in his Crap Saccharine World just for giggles—they weren't easily scared.
  • In The Bad Place by Dean Koontz, one character has uncontrolled subconscious teleportation abilities. It wouldn't be this trope, except that he frequently visits an alien planet where space lobsters are used to grow red diamonds. Not to mention, every time he jumps, he suffers a small Teleporter Accident.
  • While not hyperspace per se the dimension dwelt in by the Hounds of Tindalos (in Frank Belknap Long and later H.P. Lovecraft) is a pretty nasty place to be, as if you travel through it you set the Hound on you, and as they can enter the world through any angle, and will never stop, this is bad to say the least.
  • Randall Garrett's "Time Fuze" has the first team to use the hyperdrive jump to Alpha Centauri only to find the star blowing up. It Got Worse. When they try to get back to Earth, it turns out the drive makes suns blow up when it departs as well as when it arrives
  • Philip Jose Farmer in "The Unreasoning Mask" posits a means of FTL travel that doesn't harm the passengers, but is Very Bad for the universe: in fact it may have destroyed several earlier universes
  • In "Common Time" by James Blish, a person travelling in "over-drive" experiences first experiences his mind (and therefore his perception of time) operating thousands of times faster than his body, and later his body operating vastly faster than his mind - both potentially fatal conditions. (Several earlier expeditions failed to return). It then gets wierder, and the whole thing is possibly kinky.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Brainship series, FTL drive is pretty tame - some people react to it with temporary nausea, and there's always a lingering sense of unreality, but it's perfectly normal and safe. Singularity drive, on the other hand... involves "translating" between two linked, mapped nodes instantaneously by taking a mathematical jaunt through several realities, all of which inflict temporary body horrors on the poor passengers. The usual transit time is on the order of seconds. However, sometimes ships get stuck, at which the horrors can last for weeks. One notable example involved a brainship having to burn out dozens of powerful processors, put down a mutiny, and finish the translation using a handful of known good processors (including the graphics processor for the screens and a processor or two donated from the body of a cyborg), all while looping between two realities that turned your teeth to rotten mush in one and long stabbing needles in another.
  • While there is nothing inherently bad about hypersphere in The History of the Galaxy books, it's essentially an empty dimension (or anomaly, as the author prefers to call it). It's pitch black there. The only navigational tool that works in hypersphere is the mass-detector, which measures the "energy pressure" around the ship to determine what sort of objects lie in normal space. Early human hyperdrive-equipped ships were flying totally blind, and many were never heard from again (either they ended up in empty systems or materialized inside stellar bodies). All others ended up in random star systems with not enough power for a second jump, resulting in a lot of Lost Colonies. The first human ship to end up in hypersphere wasn't even equipped with a hyperdrive. It was humanity's first extrasolar vessel, the colony ship Alpha (also the largest ship ever built). Propelled by three powerful fusion drives, it was supposed to accelerate to .5c on its way to Alpha Centauri. The drives activate... and she sheer power tears a hole in space/time, sucking the ship into hypersphere.
    • Additionally, hypersphere is an actual sphere (with the galaxy wrapping around it). At its center, the so-called 10th energy level, there is an energy imprint of the galaxy, around which orbit a number of planets, only one of which is habitable. No electronic device works there due to the "energy pressure" of the entire galaxy converging. However, the same pressure also enables some interesting abilities in living beings, many of these bordering on magical.
  • The Diving Universe has perfectly safe and reasonable FTL. However, it also has Foldspace, which is far faster but also far more dangerous. The Fleet tried not to enter Foldspace except in the case of an emergency, because not every ship that goes in comes back out — and even if they do, there's no guarantee that they'll come out in the right place or time. After the Fleet passed into legend, Foldspace drives became a Lost Technology—poorly understood by those who stumbled across them, and thus even more spectacularly dangerous to meddle with.

Live-Action TV

  • Hyperspace in Babylon 5, while less scary than most hyperspaces in this entry, is still rather nasty. It has random currents that can throw you off course rather quickly if you have a navigational failure, no landmarks to navigate by other than the artificial beacons placed by the various races, and there's even some rumors about things living in it. (They're true, and though some of them are just annoying, there are lots of things that are far from nice.) And then there's the eponymous Thirdspace...
    • The First Ones of Babylon 5 have learned to use hyperspace rather well, with even the Vorlons folding a pocket of hyperspace in on itself to hide a frigging enormous armada!
      • The Shadows are even worse, being completely at home in the chaotic hyperspace. They never get lost and don't even need to open jump gates, simply phasing between hyperspace and normal space. In essence, the Shadows are true Eldritch Abominations who have made hyperspace their plaything.
    • You also have to worry about the fact that if your ship is destroyed in the middle of jumping either into realspace or hyperspace, you'll be stuck in that moment eternally. Other less nasty but still dangerous problems include freak storms and vortexes that are capable of altering the currents and eddies and throwing ships off course, something that can normally prove fatal. And in the Expanded Universe there's the Starshards; weapons from a long-ago war, made up of small pieces of neutronium that literally tear hyperspace apart as they travel through it, leaving a trail of realspace behind it like a comet's tail while at the same time warping the eddies in front of it.
    • Hyperspace is in actuality a shadow of Realspace. Gravity wells from normal space create the vortices in Hyperspace, and the drift effect is due to the galaxy being constantly in motion. Hyperspace compresses the space-time continuum so everything is exaggerated while travelling through it. Hyperspace beacons constantly need to be readjusted and hyperspace lanes tend to change over the years. Another unnatural effect of Hyperspace is that it boosts the telepathic abilities of any telepath. Travel beyond the galaxy is said to be the hardest thing any one race can accomplish, and only the ancient First Ones have travelled beyond the galactic rim.
    • Also, if you try to open a jump point within an already active gate, this will result in a very large explosion.
  • Star Trek normally doesn't treat subspace as a bad thing. There are some exceptions, though:
    • Subspace containing aliens who like vivisecting humans.
    • Then there's the problem when subspace extrudes into normal space. Basically, being caught in such a flux means trouble. The energies and particles coming from them are generally not healthy, and stresses can tear starships apart. And you can forget about trying to use Warp Drive (indeed, one TNG episode showed that excessive warp usage was fraying the boundary between space and subspace like an well-trodden carpet). Thus the laser-like focus of the Federation when it comes to Omega molecules (seen in Voyager): just one of them will rip the space/subspace barrier for a radius of several light years. Get too many of these kinds of holes popping up and you can kiss galactic civilization as you know it goodbye.
    • Wormholes containing Sufficiently Advanced Aliens the Bajorans thought of as the prophets. Averted, in that they're actually quite nice and keep the wormhole open and stable. The Pah-Wraiths, on the other hand...
    • The Next Generation also had an episode about "transporter psychosis", in which perpetual hypochondriac Barclay sees things moving while he's in the beam. Creepy and effective, up until one of them gets close enough to see that they're sock puppets (well, not really, but equally silly-looking wormlike Muppets), turning it into a Narm moment.
      • Mind you, Star Trek transporters don't work the way warp drive works. They take your atoms apart, turn 'em into energy, shoot 'em elsewhere, and put 'em back together. As you can imagine, what happens when this is done merely almost right, the result can be far from pretty. Though Star Trek being Star Trek, it more often results in far more inventive failure.
      • It's not entirely clear how Barclay can see anything inside the beam, given that he doesn't exist at that moment.
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture also had a sequence where the Enterprise's transporter isn't set up properly and the results are really rather unpleasant.

Transporter Chief: Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately.

    • The Canon Discontinuity Voyager episode "Threshold" almost treated Warp 10 like this, but the actual results were mind-boggling.
      • Some incoherent reasoning used in explaining that Warp 10 is somehow "infinite" speed, which the logical statement alone is just all kinds of wrong, but then turning off the engine somehow causes the ship to return right back to where it had started. And then it turned Tom Paris into a reptile. EVOLUTION DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY.
    • And then there are the cloaking devices. They seem to operate by taking a ship and crew outside of the normal realm of matter and reality, which allows them not only invisibility but the ability to do things such as phase through solid matter. This can go horribly wrong in two different ways. The first is if a person is exposed to the radiation of a damaged device. They become cloaked. Not only will they be invisible, unable to be seen, they will lack coherence and slip through walls. On a ship, this could mean a sudden jarring motion could send a person into space. The second is if the cloaking device suddenly stops working as the ship phases through solid matter. If a crewmember is lucky, getting stuck in a wall will kill them instantly.
  • Wormholes in Farscape are treacherous and difficult to navigate, and cause all sorts of tricky problems with time and space and turning into liquid when you don't quite understand them, and are inhabited by bizzarre and dangerous creatures- ranging from gigantic phase-shifting serpents to sentient "Pathfinders" of dubious morality. On the other hand, one episode dealt with the dangers of Starburst, which is a short-range FTL technology that works by temporarily slipping into another dimension and coming out pretty quickly. Somehow, the ship Moya gets stuck and splayed out in other dimensions - one of which causes mind-splitting noise, another which causes visual pain, and a third which causes elation and euphoria, in addition to the normal one - and has to be reassembled by moving all four ships in unison through the dimension while avoiding the interdimensional gatekeeper monster... thing.
    • The problem with that particular starburst involved Moya's pregnancy cumulated with other labor complications. As of some time after Talin's birth, it is still said him starbursting would be dangerous. He does it even before properly learning to fly, though.
    • Farscape is tricky, because early on they outright state that Starburst isn't intended for normal travel, but only for quick emergency escapes. Presumably, Moya has some other method of FTL travel that they don't talk about. (Same one that the Peacekeeper ships use?) Later in the series, they treat Starburst as if it's the only way Moya can travel FTL.
      • The normal mode of FTL travel for all ships, including Moya, is the Hetch Drive. It appears to move the ship through normal space at FTL speeds, and isn't brought up all that much. Starburst is just for emergencies, as it pops you out at a random location.
  • The Tomorrow People were presumably safe when jaunting through hyperspace. If they jaunted into hyperspace without protective gear, their bodies would be annihilated. Additionally, hyperspace was seen as a place where time had no meaning, but you'd return to your own time upon leaving. That is, unless some major temporal screw-up had occurred, which ran the possibility of freezing time temporarily.
  • The Time Vortex in the Whoniverse has been shown to be hazardous to objects that travel through it without proper transport, even killing companion Jack Harkness. It also hosts a few creatures, such as the Chronovores and other beings, and, as of New Who, Reapers.
    • The vortex was also viewable from a special window on the Doctor's homeworld called the "untempered schism" where one could actually stare at the raw power of time and space, as the Doctor described it. He said that all Time Lord children were instructed to stare at it until they either became inspired, went insane or ran away. The Doctor of course, ran away. He never stopped.
    • Although there's an argument to be made for all three.
  • Played with in the pilot of Stargate Atlantis: Lt. Ford hazes the New Guy (Sheppard) by telling him that Gate travel is horribly painful... then drops the act, admits it's actually a lot of fun, and throws himself backward through the event horizon like it's a carnival ride.
  • Andromeda's Slip Stream network isn't particularly scary but it's like an ever-shifting maze that requires insane amounts of intuition to take the right path and incredible reflexes to steer in. Which is why computer systems cannot fly in it as they always only have a 50:50 chance of picking the right path, while humans have between 70% and 99% success rate. We don't want to imagine what happens if they ever take a wrong turn.
    • Well, an early episode showed what happens when you put a being who can predict probable futures into the pilot's seat. Trance ends up screwing up so bad, that it throws the ship 300 years back in time. Later on, though, she can be seen piloting without problems. Given what is revealed about Trance's nature later on, it's entirely possible she meant for the time jump to happen.
    • An episode involves a probe sent centuries before in order to prowl slipstream and map it out. Supposedly, a complete map of the network would allow efficient, safe passage to any ship, whether piloted by a living being or not.


  • Van der Graaf Generator goes with the Nothing Is Scarier version in "Pioneers Over C.". A group of astronauts attempt to use Faster-Than-Light Travel to explore the cosmos, and when they finally break the light barrier, they enter infinite nothingness, losing all sense of time and awareness, unable to return to reality as we know it.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, faster-than-light travel is achieved by jumping into a parralel dimension called the Warp or the Immaterium, which is essentially Hell. A manifestation of the desires and hates of all conscious life, brimming with soul-eating daemons and dark gods, it's also the origin, power source and curse of all Psychic Powers. Ships need special Gellar Fields to keep the entities that swarm through the Immaterium from passing right through the hull and feasting on the minds and souls of all within. In addition, the Warp sometimes generates Negative Space Wedgies called Warp Storms, where it spills into realspace. It's never a good idea to be on any planet caught anywhere near one of these. Whole regions of space have been caught in Warp Storms, which of course doesn't do the populations of inhabited planets therein any good. And even when the storms recede, the planets returned like shipwrecks exposed by a receding ocean are... different.
    • How bad is the Warp? The Tau Earth Caste cheerfully use any and all technologies to help spread the Greater Good. After their experiments on Medusa V, they've basically decided "screw that, too many tentacles" and are sticking with their much-slower-but-won't-lead-to-daemons-raping-the-flat-bit-of-neck-where-your-head-used-to-be method, which just skims the edges of the Warp; it's rather like sticking to the coastline - you don't get very far out, but that also means you avoid the sharks. Except that in this case the sharks are the size of your ship, and are able to pass through the hull and eat the crew, and drive you mad to look at them.
      • The Necrons don't bother either. Instead, they have found a way to make their ships free of inertia, and so able to move anywhere in the galaxy at almost any speed.
    • Of course, just being exposed to the Warp tend to be bad for the molecules. Chaos Space Marines in full power armor had their bodies flayed from them layer by layer. The only one that lived through the whole thing turned into a daemon.
    • There are also the Eldar webway tunnels, which are passages through what is essentially another dimension between the Materium and the Immaterium. Whereas the Warp is pure chaos, the Webway is more akin to Alien Geometries; rational and internally consistent, yet utterly alien.
    • This isn't all. A special Psychic known as a Navigator must follow a special psionic beacon known as the Astronomican, which is described as being like a lighthouse beacon in an immensely dark tunnel. Failure to correctly follow the Astronomican will result in the ship being lost in the Warp. The fluff has described ships as heading into the warp only to emerge centuries after they first entered, centuries BEFORE they entered, arriving thousands of light years off-course, or coming right back out seconds later, having done nothing at all. This is because the Warp is a metaphorical river that flows backwards, forwards, up, down, here and there. You do not want to know what happens to those consumed by Daemons, it's far, FAR worse than feeble "feasting".
      • Don't forget to mention that this particular lighthouse beacon is essentially the tortured screaming from thousands of psychics being mind-raped to death by a machine, all at once.
      • The Navigators always carry a handgun - so that if they see the ship's beginning to veer off course, they can immediately commit suicide.
      • One of the older novels (Eye of Terror) has a character claim that anyone can actually steer their ship in the Warp, and they don't even need the Astronomicon; all they need is faith that they will get to their destination. Becase the Warp is a whole dimension of Your Mind Makes It Real, believe that you will get there and it will take you there. It's still much easier for the Navigators to steer, though, because they have been bred to more easily interpret the flows of the Warp. Of course, this was set in one of the older editions.
    • The immediate consequences of (almost[1]) unprotected teleportation are shown in the Ciaphas Cain novel The Emperor's Finest: Cain is teleported on what looks like a few kilometers, something people normally do while wearing Terminator armor, and spends a week in sick bay to recover from the Warp exposure (while Jurgen shrugs it off in a day).
    • If you take a look at who actually uses the Warp, only those who serve the Imperium shit their pants at the very thought. The Orks use the Warp, but daemonic incursions onto their vessels when they happen are treated as a way of breaking up the tedium of long trips. The Tau don't use the Warp at all, as well as the Necrons, the only race in the setting to have true FTL. As for Chaos, navigation in the warp is easier for them as it's where their patrons are, but a Gellar field failure will mean that their daemonic patrons will come to collect on their pacts, generally with nightmarishly fatal consequences. The Tyranids, as of the most recent codex, use an odd beastie called a 'narvhal' to pull them towards systems using some kind of effect on the gravity well of the system. The fact that this causes earthquakes, tidal waves and solar flare activity in the solar system they are aiming for nicely tenderises any indigenous population for what comes next.
      • The Orks actualy use a rather interesting way to travel the Warp. They have no actual warp drive for their ships (or most techboyz don't come up with one). They instead search for so called Space Hulks, which are the remains of asteroids and ships, who got sucked in the warp and twisted together into a new shape. These Hulks are unstable, which means they constantly shift between warp and real world. So Orks, ever the opportunists, hole out these hulks, install airlocks and forcefields to breathe in them, slap engines and guns on it and wait for it to shift back into warp or search for the nearest warp storm and head right in. After all, they don't where they land as long as they can fight afterwards.
    • In earlier editions, it was suggested that Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 existed in the same universe. The huge differences—such as the altered natures of some of the common gods between the two, or the presence of true magic as opposed to Psyker powers in Warhammer Fantasy—were explained by the world of Warhammer Fantasy being trapped in a permanent, impenetrable warp storm that locally altered the laws of the universe.
      • It's stated that if you peered into one of the gates in the Chaos Wastes, sometimes you can gleam bits of the 40k universe. This is explained that the Warp can also act as a trans-dimensional portal, allowing other universes to see each other.
    • One of the older bits of fluff (most likely written before the Horus Heresy series came out) casually mentions that at the dawn of interstellar travel humanity tried various methods of faster than light travel- and going through the Warp was apparently the best option. The Warp was a much calmer place back then, traveling through it was relatively smooth-sailing. But when that's when the Eldars had to screw everything up... Any other FTL technology was lost and re-development is 'heresy'.
    • Instead of Gellar Fields, the orks attach a whole bunch of Ork Teeth (TEEF, naturally) to their spacecraft. In addition to looking snappy, this is supposed to scare away the Demons. Ork technology is basically powered by a collective Clap Your Hands If You Believe psychic energy field. If enough Orks think something will make A do B, then A will do B, so it works.
      • Another reason they can pass the Warp without special shields is because they are not really the demons' favorite prey. An ork's mind, while incredibly stupid most the time, has an unmatched willpower, actually causing demons to be trapped in them without giving them any control over the Ork (most of the time it ends in Orks who argue with themselves a lot). Likewise Orks don't have much fear and never enough to feed demons. They're more likely to see giant tentacle monsters as training opportunities or even lunch.
      • And even if they do get lost in the warp, well, it's not a scary place to the Orks. One of the tales of such ventures in their army books is an Ork Waaagh! getting stranded on a warp-planet dedicated to the Blood God, where everyone on it was systimatically slaughtered by demons, then revived to repeat the pattern. The Orks are 99% sure they reached heaven, and the other 1% thinks they found something better
    • The page image the cover art of Rogue Trader: Stars of Inequity, and the caption is the Litany of Warp Travel found in the Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, both of which are related to the setting.
  • The game Fading Suns uses an inversion: hyperspace (what is between the Stargates) actually is the safe way. The real problem is that interstellar space (the traditional boundary is the orbit of system's Stargate) is filled with shapeless Cthulhoid monstrosities going by the lovely name of Void Kraken. (Something about the star, at least for some part of the star's life cycle repels the Void Krakens. The size of this safe zone varies with each system.) Still, spaceships jumping through hyperspace need to be protected by special shields, because otherwise people experience a strongly addictive quasi-religious epiphany. And fun stuff: before the discovery of Sol System's gate, there were several sleeper ships sent out. One of them was referenced in canon. The rest... Well, the general assumption is it's better not to think of what could have happened to the passengers.
  • While not used for space travel, Porté sorcery in the RPG 7th Sea involves tearing a bleeding hole in reality, stepping through into an hyperspace-like dimension, and tearing open another hole to get back. No one knows what this dimension is like, because Porté sorcerers keep their eyes closed while inside it. Within this dimension, voices try to persuade or trick the sorcerer into opening their eyes. It's assumed that the sorcerers who never came back made the mistake of opening their eyes.
    • It's not at all related that the country where most Porté sorcerers live also has ghosts without eyes or hands that appear in its mirrors. No, surely not.
    • In later supplemental material, it is revealed that nearly all magic in the world of Theah weakens a barrier in a shadowy world that keeps an army of eldritch abominations at bay, and that every use of Porte magic to rip a hole in reality also rips a corresponding hole in the barrier.
  • In the cosmology of Magic: The Gathering, the space between planes (sometimes called the Blind Eternities) will instantly kill anyone other than a Planeswalker or without serious magical protection (either fundamentally transforming the nature of the traveler, or bringing along a pocket or tunnel of normal space to ride in or pass through). The constantly-shifting currents of metaphysical energy look pretty bizarre, but at least they don't drive people insane... of course, that could only be because even Planeswalkers will be killed by it before they have a chance to go nuts.
  • In Traveller different cultures have different customs and/or superstitions about it. Among them, Vilani dim their lights (from when having enough power to go into jump was an issue), Aslan clans light a sacramental candle, Vargr, as the violent types, beat up one of their crewmates chosen for the honor, and the Droyne use special coins. Jump space is not so much feared as it is weird. If a jump works wrong one could be misjumped to a random point, which could mean anywhere. If it works really wrong, one stays in jumpspace, and no one knows what happens.
    • Technically, one only stays in Jumpspace for a few trillion (subjective) years. Long enough for protons, stable as they are, to decay and, 168 objective hours or so later, all that emerges is a flash of hard radiation.
  • And the utterly forgotten 80's RPG Space Quest had N-Space filled to the bursting with Voidsharks, 'Temblons' (think kraken with tractor-beam tentacles) and other horrors that all seemed to find carbon based life a tasty treat.
  • Rifts both averts, subverts and uses this trope. Regular FTL travel is fairly simple and straightforward, if somewhat anemic as regards speed. Phase drives, however, are derived from the same technology and magic that the Prometheans use. They use this technology to shut portals and gates down on top of ships that are coming in, a fairly horrific action. But then there are the Rift drives. Though they normally travel through a dimension called the Flux Dimension, anyone who has played Rifts know that they're prone to all sorts of horrible things happening...
  • Given a nod in BattleTech, where the Kearny-Fuchida jump drive is occasionally poorly looked upon. This is, of course, thanks to a long track record of damn near epic foul-ups that have happened. Time-lost ships, ships that have emerged with massive holes that look like they've been bitten, ships emerging without crew, ships that jumped too close to another ship and were fused, ships where the same happened and the still-living crew were found literally embedded in the bulkheads, and some ships just plain disappearing. Never mind the fact that the Word of Blake apparently figured out a way to keep a ship in hyperspace so their recruits have a more interesting environment to learn in. And it has already been established that looking out a porthole during a jump is just plain stupid...
  • The Hedge in Changeling: The Lost can serve as a means of more expedient travel between long distances, provided one is willing to enter an ever-shifting maze and brave the dangers therein. True to the warped logic of its owners, the time it takes to get somewhere depends more on what happens along the way than on actual distance, meaning that getting from Miami to Tucson might require more time (and bloodshed) than from Miami to London.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle features the Paths of the Old Ones, a series of pocket dimension "hubs" connected to each other and to real-world gates by "tunnels" through the realm of magic. Since the Old Ones disappeared, the Paths have been tainted by Chaos. The tunnels are even worse, containing "reality bubbles" that travelers can be trapped in. These may vary from alternate timelines to a daemon's personal playroom.
  • Eldritch Skies lives and breaths this trope. As it turns out, the reason why people tend to go mad in the future of the Cthulhu Mythos is not because of secrets man was not meant to know-rather, its due to exposure to the hyperspatial entities, and hyperspace itself is The Corruption. As per Eldritch Skies, however, the expected role this would play is averted-the mental effects don't get really bad until Level 4 exposure and Level 1 gives you Psychic Powers-and anything lower than Level 5 is treatable.


  • In the Lone Wolf series, the Shadowgates allow travel between other dimensions and other planets. However, actually traveling through a Shadowgate is completely inimical to mortals ravaging body and soul alike. The two times Lone Wolf travels through a Shadowgate in the Magnakai series rob him of Endurance points. In the Grandmaster series, Lone Wolf can eventually learn how to shield his body from the worst effects of Shadowgate travel.


  • Subverted hilariously in Qui Nguyen's play Fight Girl Battle World, in which the Human is told to brace for hyperspace, which then turns out to be funky hip-hop music. Everyone bobs their head in time. The human eventually catches on.

Video Games

  • Although not technically hyperspace, the plot of the Doom series revolves around teleporters that work by routing the teleported matter through Hell itself—the demons eventually notice the unexpected entry and even less expected exits and come through the teleporters themselves. In Doom 3, it's specifically stated that the Martian civilization's use of this technology nearly drove them into extinction, and it took a Heroic Sacrifice on the part of their entire species to send the demons back and close up the portals again before they could conquer the universe. And then humans came along and Unsealed the Can.
    • As with Event Horizon, Doom is itself often jokingly cited as an example of ancient history within the Warhammer 40k universe... which would mean the Doomguy has to be The Emperor... Oh hells yeah!
    • If the demonic invasion wasn't bad enough even travelling though a portal to another place on Mars can cause paranoia and insanity.
  • Half Life has a similar premise: Xen is a parallel dimension that looks as if bits of planet and atmosphere, as well as predatory xenofauna, were transported there at random. Teleporters need to pass their signal through a Xen relay in order to return their loads to normal space. The relay is initially (when the technology was first created) a big machine attached to a crystal on Xen, but is subsequently "compressed" all the way to nothing; Half-Life 2 tells us that rag-tag Resistance teleporters simply swing around Xen like a dimensional sligshot, making teleportation cheaper and a bit safer.
    • On the other hand, Combine teleportation takes the hard way and rips a hole in the universe. It does have some advantages, like the Combine being able to go to any universe they choose and wherever in a given universe, but teleportation relying on Xen is cheaper and uses much less machinery, as well as able to perform intradimensional travel (as opposed to Combine teleportation which is only capable of travel between dimensions). Some factions can even use it without machinery at all, like the G-Man, who conveniently disappears through what is either teleportation or a crapload of hidden doors before you ever get close. Also, the Vortigaunts seem to like where/when/whatever plane of existence the G-Man keeps using and taking Gordon to, so much so as to wrench him back into reality from it once or twice.
  • The Warcraft universe has the Twisting Nether, a realm that connects every world to one another. To those who know how to use its powers, it can act as a doorway between worlds. In its natural state it is the opposite of worlds, with mutable laws of physics defined by each individual and little sense of reason. Recently, however, it has become a major haven for the Burning Legion, who use it to punch holes into new worlds or intercept travelers passing through it.
  • Wolfenstein has The Black Sun Dimension, which is basically a small-ish pocket Universe being kept from collapsing by a source of unlimited power at its center, The Black Sun. The Veil is a barrier between our universe and the Black Sun dimension, through which Black Sun energy occasionally leaks in the form of energy pools. Oh, did we mention that the energy has the property of horrifically... altering whoever comes into contact with it, unless they use a precisely harmonized portal? There's even a sort of fauna, native to the Veil: the Geist, a species of monstrous insects that exist out-of-phase with our dimensions and can only be interacted with in the Veil... Unless you're really stupid and attract their attention, at which point all bets are off.
  • In the Star Control universe, Hyperspace is quite nice. Quasispace (Hyperspace's Hyperspace) is even nicer! But God help you if you use "Dimensional Fatigue" technology wrongly. The Androsynth tried it, and they all disappeared overnight. There are no more Androsynth, only Orz. Strange creatures who are difficult to understand, implied to be merely projections of some greater being from Hyperspace's or Quasispace's Mirror Universe, and will happily kill you if you persist in asking about the Androsynth. Merely trying to research the fate of the Androsynth is enough to attract the attentions of Eldritch Abominations.
    • Meddle not in the affairs of Orz, for you are *many bubbles* and filled with *special sauce*. Also, you make them *squeeze the juice*.
    • Also of note is the fact that Hyperspace isn't a total walk in the park; according to the backstory, the shift between dimensions causes intense nausea, much like a hyperactive space seasickness.
    • The eerie background music playing while your ship travels through Quasispace really helps get the "scary place" feeling across. Some of it sounds like the screams or yells of... something.
    • As some of the aliens describe it, Hyperspace is "above" regular space, and Quasi-space is "above" Hyperspace. The Orz come from "below".
  • In the sequel (of disputed canonicity) to the RTS Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, the central enemy came from Hyperspace. This was a little disturbing for everyone, as until then Hyperspace has been thought to be perfectly safe (assuming you had a safe way of getting in and out of it). The Naggarok, an alien exploration vessel using an experimental form of hyperdrive, essentially went 'too deep', or something similar, resulting in it picking up a passenger in the form of a sentient biomatter virus.
    • Interestingly, in an early script for Homeworld 2, the radiation clouds from a damaged hyperspace core were instead written as an area of space in which ships would be sucked into fiery tentacled hyperspace gates. The script describes them as "looking like they lead straight into hell". This interpretation would fit well with all the other religious symbolism in the game, but you can see why they dropped it; The radiation shields the Hiigarans eventually implement are much more believable than "portal into hell" shields.
  • In Elite, a trip into hyperspace (or witch-space, as the game calls it) puts you at risk from ambush from Thargoids, who have a technology which allows them to lurk there. In some versions of the game you can force a hyperdrive failure by holding full pitch and roll while jumping, but you'd have to be either suicidal or very well armed to attempt it.
  • In Frontier: Elite II, mis-jumps sometimes occur, which usually just results in your ship emerging from Hyperspace too early but still with enough fuel to complete the jump. A severe mis-jump could have you emerge from Hyperspace in uncharted space thousands of light years from any inhabited system while simultaneously turning your hyperdrive into a pile of useless scrap metal. Fun.
  • In Xenosaga, the UMN, source of faster than light travel & communications is also the source of the nightmarish creatures known as the Gnosis. This turns out to be because it is actually humanity's collective unconscious.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the humans and the Zuul use a specific dimension called 'nodespace' to allow their ships to ignore the rules of physics. Unfortunately, nodespace is inhabited by Energy Beings known as 'specters', who do not appreciate the intrusion and will occasionally cross over into real space and eat the population of one of your colonies to display their displeasure. The Zuul are especially at risk because of their manner of accessing nodespace: For an analogy, the spectres' annoyance at humanity would be like if you were sitting at home and someone came streaking through your living room, entering and leaving through your front door—the Zuul would be the guy who entered your living room by drilling his way through the walls with a pneumatic drill, and exiting by drilling through the wall at the opposite end. In the nude.
    • In addition, looking directly into Node Space turns out to have really bad psychological side effects, and after a few unfortunate murder-suicides all human ships now shut all external views of their ships while performing node jumps. Word of God has said that Zuul find node travel delicious and deeply comforting, like burrowing into live flesh. Brrr.
      • It's heavily implied in the novel The Deacon's Tale that the Zuul stole Node drive technology from humans with the help of a traitor (the guy who designed the thing in the first place). Why they can't use standard Node tunnels isn't explained. Perhaps what they stole wasn't complete.
    • The one and only time a Liir tried to enter nodespace on a human vessel, the second it felt the psychic emanations from nodespace it tore open the ship from the inside to avoid going through. Thankfully everyone onboard was fully suited.
    • The novel The Deacon's Tale reveals that traveling through Hiver gates is harmful to other races. The side effects can range from simple nausea to death by miocardial infarction. It's possible they're simply not calibrated for non-Hivers or that the Hivers have genetically modified themselves to survive the process.
  • The Shadow Shard in City of Heroes is like this, if only because almost all the monsters found in the place are Demonic Spiders. Of course, the land scape is trippy as hell, and that does a lot to turn it into one of the most unused zones in the game.
  • Toejam and Earl 2‍'‍s Hyperfunk Zone is a most totally jammin‍'‍ version of this.
  • The scariness of subspace in the Free Space series has less to do with subspace itself than the insinuation that using it for FTL travel will cause a horde of enraged Starfish Aliens, who may or may not actually live in subspace, with Nigh Invulnerable spacecraft to come and wipe your species out for their "sin".
  • The Halo universe's hyperspace is known as slipspace. In the early days of FTL travel, technicians sometimes had to repair the drives while in mid-jump, exposing themselves to the "slipstream" and risking injury, death, or even being completely erased from existence in the process. Even when the engine isn't operating, there's still a tendency for tools and technicians to turn up missing after a shift. Sometimes ships entering hyperspace will simply never reappear. Time dilation effects are present, which can cause unpredictable delays.
    • It's also implied that slipspace travel has adverse effects on your health, thus the cryopods present on all UNSC vessels.
    • Being Thrown Out the Airlock simply kicks you back into realspace, though you do get bathed in radiation in the process.
    • Opening a slipspace rift while in an atmosphere creates a massive EMP pulse and shockwave that can knock down a Space Elevator.
    • Trying to transition from realspace to slipspace when the slipspace drive isn't fully charged (at least on human ships) causes the ship to be blown into atomized bits.
  • The EVE Online expansion Apocrypha added star systems that are only accessible by wormholes and full of strange, sentient and Exclusively Evil machines called the Sleepers. This turned out to be a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation: the players found these systems less scary than intended, mapped them, colonized them and deciphered the Sleeper AI to safely farm them.
    • Canonically, just warping and jumping through stargates are mentally traumatic experiences, to the point where ship crews are either permanently juicing anti-psychotic medication to keep them sane, or else are kept sedated when they're not actually needed for anything. A capsuleer's control pod does grant them immunity to this phenomenon, but considering that it tends to drive the user insane anyway, this could be considered a mixed blessing.
  • In Immortal Defense, you are the reason hyperspace is a scary place, since you're an immortal disembodied spirit with god powers, and you tend to tear apart fleets.
  • The Halloween update of Minecraft allows players to build a portal to "The Nether", a hellish underworld where every step you take translates to eight steps in the normal world. Where the terrain isn't covered by lava it consists of either a red rock that readily catches on fire or a quicksand textured with screaming faces. The entire dimension is inhabited by herds of zombie pigmen and flying jellyfish who spit exploding fireballs that tear up the landscape and set the rock on fire.
  • Dungeon Crawl gives us the Abyss, which is intimately tied to translocation spells; there are translocation spells that send a target to the Abyss, and a translocation miscast can send the mage the same way. It's a constantly shifting branch of hell, filled with demons and ruled over by the Lugonu the Unformed, whose grants powers of, naturally, translocation.
  • In Sam And Max: The Penal Zone, when Sam and Max first use the power of Teleportation (outside the tutorial flashback at the beginning), the two travel through a mysterious multicolored void where Max is a talking skeleton.

Max: Enjoying the ride, Sam?
Sam: Note to self: when traveling through Max's brain, keep your eyes shut.

  • The Breach refers to this as "the Yellow." It's full of yellow fog, nasty monsters, and strange glowing glyphs, and it's apparently beyond time as well. The inhabitants are quite welcoming, but they tend to become enraged at people who refuse to join them.
  • In Baten Kaitos the Trail of Souls that links Mira to the rest of the world. The "wavey" black void is liable to get you lost forever in a monster filed dimension if you get lost, and it even freaks out characters who regularly travel it. Motoi Sakuraba's music sets the tune perfectly.
  • In Loom you and a few other characters have the opportunity to tear open the very fabric of reality and go Outside. While it makes for convenient travel by going from tear to tear, it is very much not safe, as Outside is the dwellingplace of the dead, some of whom are not nice people at all.
  • In Mass Effect, the Mass Effect Relays are not entirely mapped out by the species of the galaxy, since they were supposedly designed by the Protheans ( "supposedly" because they were actually created by the Reapers) who did not really leave any complete maps as to where they all go, and an explorer has no idea what is really on the other side. Used to be, when a new Mass Relay was discovered the Citadel Council would immediately send out an explorer team to leap to the other side and map out the Relay's destination. This came to a stop however when one exploration team discovered the rachni. The ensuing war lasted a century, which was only won when the Council employed the use of the krogan, which in turn lead to Krogan Rebellions. So naturally, when humans start leaping through any Mass Relay they dig up, the Council got a bit nervous. When they sent the turian fleets through to tell us to stop, a brief but devastating war broke out. On top of hostile unknown races being at the other side of a Mass Relay, there is also a chance you could run into other nasty things, like black holes or massive fields of space-junk.

Web Comics

  • In the web comic Bohemian Drive, one of the characters talks about the rumors he heard about wormhole technology as he steps into the teleportation booth, describing how it's this twisting, freaky experience. Then he subverts it by admitting that it's actually supposed to be quite smooth, as the welcome guy on the other side greets them with nothing else changing to indicate the change. Link
  • Parodied (but of course) in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip.

Western Animation

  • In X-Men: Evolution, the dimension Nightcrawler teleports through is shown to be a hell-like place where monsters dwell... or did, until they got out.
    • However, this use of hell isn't "A place of endless torture and horror" but more like "Lots of lava." And the monsters are just red velociraptors. Nightcrawler even comments it was "Not a place I'd vacation, but still wild."
    • This plot was also used in the original comics with Illyana Rasputin's "stepping-discs", which moved the users through the demon-filled Limbo.
  • Kup of the Transformers, a giant mechanical war veteran, is still given "the shivers" by hyperspace (known to the Autobots as "The Void").
  • Spoofed mercilessly in Family Guy Presents Laugh It Up Fuzzball, where it shows the Fourth Doctor opening.

Other Media

  • Appears in the Herpex spoof ad.
  1. There is still the localized Gellar Field, indispensable