Literature / Junction Point
is a hard sci-fi serial, written by Thuktun Flishithy. Chapters are uploaded every Wednesday and Saturday.
Liu Haipeng is a contact specialist aboard the Odysseus
, humanity's first interstellar spacecraft. After the discovery of signals coming from Kapteyn's Star in the early 2050's, she is sent along with three other explorers to the star system, where contact is made with a species called the ktrit'zal. As interactions begin, however, the crew begins to wonder if there are other parties at play...
Now complete, with a sequel planned for late December.
This story contains examples of:
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: A major point in the story, where Liu and Rudak trade important texts and find that they enjoy them. Rudak, especially, seems intrigued by the Odyssey.
- Alien Blood: Ktrit'zal blood is apparently neon-orange and smells of lilac. Tianlong blood is sky-blue.
- Alien Sky: Not as alien as other examples, but Kapteyn's Star dominates most of the sky of Mulolowa. Rayleigh scattering from the red dwarf's light results in a very pale blue, almost white, sky.
- Aliens Speaking English: Subverted. While Rudak does begin to learn a human language, he chooses Mandarin instead.
- Later played straight with Diplomat.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted. Humans can survive on Mulolowa, but it's colder and has a much thinner atmosphere. Ktrit is much hotter, with a thick atmosphere, five times the surface gravity, and is tidally locked.
- All There in the Manual: The Spacebattles thread offers some details that would otherwise be left out of the story. Notes on ktrit'zal writing, starship specifications, and so on.
- Apocalypse How: Despite having an oxygenated atmosphere, Mulolowa lacks even microorganisms, which leads the crew biologist to theorize that it was scoured by a solar event.
- It's hinted that a Class 0 or 1 event might've occurred on Earth, as the population dropped from 10 billion to 8 in a single generation.
- Later confirmed to be an environmental catastrophe called the Surge.
- The tianlong homeworld of Cefac suffered a 3a, thanks to a nuclear war.
- Artificial Gravity: Of the realistic type. Odysseus is capable of 1g of acceleration, which simulates gravity for the crew. However, when they insert into orbit and kill the engine, everything becomes weightless.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The ktrit’zal move like gorillas and are even bigger, yet have elephantine skin, which is rather unlike anything xenobiologistic guesses at. The tianlong are even weirder, looking more like a dragon of eastern lore and yet are somehow able to withstand hundreds of gees.
- Brain Uploading: Tianlong, again.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted painfully. It takes an absurd amount of energy, and the most advanced technology Earth has to offer, just to get to a 'nearby' star, and it still takes around 14 years. (5, for the crew).
- Colonized Solar System: By the 2050's, there are small colonies and scientific outposts on the Moon, Mars, and satellites of outer planets.
- Cool Starship: *Odysseus*. Thanks to its ramscoop, it's capable of constant 1g acceleration, and is humanity's first ever starship.
- Death World: Ktrit, by human standards. It's a tidally locked world, with five times the surface gravity of Earth. Temperatures run from tropical to water-boiling, and there is a perpetual storm on the planet's dayside, which often leads to violent weather on the nightside as well.
- The wildlife also sound like pieces of work. Rudak privately recounts a tale where he was almost eaten by some kind of predator called a vara when he was young.
- Domed Hometown: Martian settlements, as offhandedly mentioned by Luís.
- Dyson Sphere: Currently considered for Sheshak.
- Fantastic Naming Convention: Ktrit'zal are born with their given name and family name, much like a lot of humans. However, when they marry, or make someone a sedenbrok (essentially a blood-brother), they take on each other's family name as well. Family names are separated by clicks, represented as an apostrophe.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Only by the tianlong, and still with limitations. Also, ludicrously expensive in energy.
- First Contact: The main point of the story.
- Food Pills: Due to the philosophical dichotomy between predatory, ancestral animal and wise sentient the tianlong actually prefer these lest they feed their inner animal.
- Genius Loci: Diplomat spends millennia uploaded into his starship.
- Glowing Flora: When Liu steps into Rudak's habitat dome, she notes that every surface is coated in plant-like life that glows in a variety of colors, though Rudak himself has no bioluminescence.
- Heavyworlder: Ktrit'zal. Since their homeworld has a surface gravity of 5gs, they're incredibly powerful. Liu mentions that Rudak's arms are almost as thick as her torso, and apparently females are even bigger.
- Human Popsicle: As the sole non-essential crew member of the Odysseus, Liu spent most of the travel time in some form of this. A transplanted population of humans and neanderthals was also transported this way.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: Some chapters are written from the perspective of the ktrit’zal Rudak and give insights into his thoughts on humans and human culture.
- Interspecies Friendship: Liu and Rudak. Eventually, they become blood-siblings.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The tianlong funeral rites are this ritualised.
- Longevity Treatment: Discussed by Liu and Luís, as well as Rudak.
- Long-Lived: Humans are this to ktrit'zal, as it later turns out. Rudak, who's old enough to be a father, is only seven. The tianlong have them both beat, though, since age is something irrelevant for them now.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Hard.
- Multicultural Alien Planet: On Ktrit there are at least four major religions, and likely many more minor ones, ethnically diverse populations, prejudices, an array of family structures.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Discussed, and averted. Both humans and ktrit'zal take great care not to contaminate each other until they're sure they won't give each other plagues. Eventually, it seems that at least some things on each side are ingestible, as Rudak was able to drink green tea without trouble.
- Non-Action Guy: The entire cast, save for a single instance in Diplomat's backstory.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted. Each human character is an expert in their own field, but not in each others'. Liu, the main character, is a xenoanthropologist; she can decipher alien languages and is knowledgable about biology, but the physics of several key technologies is lost on her.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: A species-wide example with the tianlong. It's not the actual name of their species (Rudak actually came up with the moniker, of all people), and is the Mandarin word for 'celestial/heavenly dragon'. Though the tianlong have their own name for their species, as per Word of God, it has yet to be shown in-story.
- Orion Drive: The ktrit’zal Allmother’s Light uses such a drive to overcome the five gee of Ktrit.
- Perfect Health: The tianlong.
- Ram Scoop: Part of Odysseus’ drive.
- Really 700 Years Old: Diplomat/Teksha is over 100,000 years old.
- Really Was Born Yesterday: In contrast to the above, it's revealed that Rudak, who's old enough to be a father, is seven.
- Sapient Ship
- Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Averted. The travel time between stars is realistic so far.
- Shown Their Work: Everything within the story has, so far, stayed within the realm of scientific plausibility. The so-called 'starbridges', however, have brought this into question.
- Solar Flare Disaster: Speculated as the reason Mulolowa is a barren world, despite microfossils of recent life.
- Space Elevator: It is briefly mentioned that Earth started work on one while the crew was en route to Kapteyn's Star.
- Space People: Implied to be the case with many of the tianlong.
- Spot of Tea: When they begin their journey to the beacon while Diplomat's distracted, Liu introduces Rudak to tea.
- Starfish Aliens: The ktrit'zal. They're bear-sized quadrupeds with a lot of muscle packed onto their squat frames, and have natural armor plates. They have four eyes (though apparently they're have astigmatism), delicate palps along their snout that act a lot like whiskers, and large ears that can fold against their heads. They're less tolerant of the cold than humans, have neon orange blood, apparently get motion sickness easier, and their vocalizations run a gamut broader than that of a human's. Their reproduction is unknown, but from what has been mentioned, it's likely very different from ours. They also only live a fraction of a typical human lifespan.
- Time Dilation: Why the voyage to Kapteyn's Star is "only" five years for the crew.
- Tidally Locked Planet: Ktrit, a superheavy ‘eyeball Earth’.
- Transhuman: Well, more like transtianlong.
- Weaponized Exhaust: Considered and discussed by Odysseus’ crew before approaching Allmother’s Light. They emphatically don’t want to fry the other ship just because they can’t back into a nice orbit, nor do they want to get too close to the ship that craps nuclear explosions.
- Wham Line: "You see, our peoples have met before."