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Hyperspace Lanes

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Get on Intergalactic Route 17 and hang a left on the 1st exit to reach Earth.

So, you have Faster-Than-Light Travel, and you want to travel to Rigel, but first you have to stop through Tau Ceti, even though you don't have any business there, and stopping there makes the journey longer. Why is this? Whether due to some law of physics, some artificial regulation, because FTL travel is dependent on some manner of gate(s) or stabilizer(s), or simply because Hyperspace Is a Scary Place, you have to follow the Hyperspace Lanes.

Hyperspace Lanes allow space to have choke points and pace the story in space since you have to make stops along the way between jumps anyway. This also helps facilitate Hyperspeed Ambushes and Space Piracy as predictable avenues of faster-than-light travel make for planning attacks on enemy fleets or unwitting travelers much easier. For lanes that are created by a series of structures, this also allows opportunities for an ambusher to sabotage the system and force their target out of FTL when they aren't expecting it. These lanes typically connect only the closest systems to each other. Not as silly as might be expected, as the stars of a galaxy are always in motion and even the tiny pull of distant stars may bring a ship seriously off course at great distances. Having a few lanes for which the movement and gravity of nearby stars is extremely well mapped out might be a lot safer than just blazing straight through a star cluster whose gravitational effects are only reasonably well estimated.

Related to, but rarely overlaps with Portal Network, typically only if any given gate is limited in terms of potential destinations. Sub-Trope of Faster-Than-Light Travel, and the sci-fi equivalent of Stay on the Path.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: Hyperspace is used for high-speed travel between planets in the solar system without momentum or orbital mechanics getting in the way. However, because of the way the hypergate infrastructure is designed, it is required that you go through a tunnel or chain of linked hypergates in order to not fall back into normal space. As a result, you can only travel along fixed paths, which have to be built and maintained in deep space and they must follow special orbits to maintain a consistent link between two planets as their relative positions in the Solar System change. When two planets are opposite the Sun, the hyperspace route is blocked. The hyperspace route between Mars and Jupiter, two hubs of civilization, is known as "Route 66" in reference to the long interstate highway running across most of the southern United States.
  • Heroic Age: FTL travel seems to work this way for the most part. Most civilizations travel across space on artificial "Starways" built by Precursors, which only go to specific places. Travelling off of a Starway is possible, but it requires a powerful psychic to navigate for you, and said navigation seems to be based largely on intuition rather than anything concrete. The Silver Tribe, being psychics by default, have little trouble doing this, while humanity only has a single known individual capable of such a feat. All other species are entirely dependent on the Starways.

    Comic Books 
  • This applies to the Marvel Universe; for interstellar travel most civilizations use these, and a major one is located in Earth's solar system. It's because of this that so many aliens have found and interfered with the Earth over millions of years.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Star Wars franchise has done this since A New Hope, as Han makes clear to Luke: he says they have to "get the coordinates from the navi-computer" and admonishes Luke that "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?"
    • In The Force Awakens the map to Luke Skywalker that everyone is looking for describes one of these through the Unknown Regions, though the idea is never mentioned in the film directly.
    • The Last Jedi provides concrete evidence for how fast it's possible to travel through well-known hyperspace lanes. Finn and Rose fly from Crait to Canto Bight — which according to the official map is on the opposite side of the galaxy — and return in less than a day.
    • The Film intro to Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the Republic and Separatists struggling over access to the Hyperspace Lanes controlled by the Hutts.

  • The hyperdrive used by ships in the Vatta's War series of books allow them to travel to any nearby system they choose, but if they travel to systems marked on their charts as off limits, they run the risk of running into all sorts of hazards ranging from stellar debris to unfriendly natives. Less scrupulous starship captains occasionally use these off-limits star systems as meeting locations off the beaten path to conduct illegal business or merely to shave time off their trips.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The gravity wells of planets, stars, and other celestial bodies project a "mass shadow" into hyperspace; if a vessel crashes into the shadow, it will be ripped back into Realspace, usually too close to the celestial body in question for there to be much hope of evading it. Planets struck by vessels from hyperspace have suffered everything from millions dying to complete shattering of the planet. To decrease the likelihood of this, modern hyperdrives automatically drop a ship into realspace when approaching a mass shadow (which is only of limited help if the shadow belongs to a star or a black hole), and nearly all hyperspace travel uses already plotted routes.
    • This also means that new hyperspace routes are charted only once every decade or so, as doing so requires actually sending the ship through the route to make sure it works. For the reasons mentioned above, this is a dangerous crapshoot; that new trade route isn't going to be very useful if the trading outpost it led to gets blown to smithereens by your bumbling attempts to get there.
    • Pirates, the Empire, and the Yuuzhan Vong have taken advantage of this, either moving asteroids or placing gravity well generators on routes in order to force vessels into realspace for boarding.
    • There are several major trade routes going from one end of the Galaxy to another; smaller but slower routes branching off them to individual systems; and little-known routes that are faster than average but have the danger of coming too close to stars or black holes to compensate. When no known routes to a location exist, travel is done by a series of mini-jumps with stops after each jump to check for potential hazards and plot accordingly. Over time, routes can become unusable due to the natural movement of celestial bodies through space.
    • To make matters more interesting, a large portion of the galaxy is inaccessible to hyperdrive due to Hyperspace Disturbance and requires unconventional technology to get to. And yes, several stories point out how the fastest way to get from point A to point B lies anywhere but along a direct route. Similarly, the dense Core is all but impossible to traverse due to the large and densely clustered mass shadows.
    • A key part of traditional hyperspace routes is that while hyperdrive failures don't happen all that often barring combat damage, if a hyperdrive breaks down between systems the odds of somebody finding and rescuing you are virtually nil. So routes tend to be planned so that ships skim the outside of systems between the start and end points of their destinations, far enough out that the mass shadow of the system won't stop them if they want to keep going, but close enough in that they can stop in a system rather than the middle of nowhere if they do have trouble.
  • Star Wars: The High Republic: Hyperspace is a bit less understood in this era, but it's still well-mapped in the Core Region. The series starts with a disaster where a freighter heading to the Outer Rim breaks up in hyperspace, its pieces emerging into realspace as near-lightspeed kinetic projectiles that could kill planets. The Supreme Chancellor is forced to ban hyperspace travel in a large region of space until she is certain there will be no repeat disasters. Then they discover the exact cause; the freighter nearly ran into a Nihil ship that was crossing their hyperspace lane, and broke apart trying to avoid it. Hyperspace experts insist that this is not possible—every time a ship uses a hyperdrive it is essentially shunted off into its own alternate universe, meaning there is literally nothing for it to collide with. The Nihil and their mysterious "Path engines" break the rules of how hyperspace works to use impossible shortcuts even inside gravity wells.
    • 150 years before the Great Disaster, people made careers out of charting hyperspace routes. These include official organizations like the Republic Pathfinders and independent hyperspace prospectors who make money off claims of charting new routes. However, some like Radicaz Dobbs (AKA Sunshine) take this career to rather dangerous extremes, even killing people who might have discovered a planet he also discovered or marooning those who work with him on a Death World.
  • Part of the plot in Thrawn: Alliances is that the hyperspace lanes in the Unknown Regions are so poorly mapped that the Chiss are dependent on Force-sensitive children to find safe routes to other systems in the area.
  • Eldraeverse: Stargates are built in quantum-entangled pairs, meaning that each gate only ever connects to one other gate and it can take months of crossing different star systems to reach a given destination.
  • The Lost Fleet uses this, however a more effective Portal Network is set up in important systems and the FTL pathways are almost forgotten about until the events of the series. There are strange lights in jumpspace. However, no one has figured out how to explore this dimension (ships always travel on a fixed path between two jump points), so most sailors think they're lights of their ancestors.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has hyperspace routes as analogous to British motorways; the Vogon Constructor Fleet demolishes Earth to make way for a new hyperspace express route.
  • In Voidskipper while a Voidskipper can - strictly speaking - bash its way through to wherever it wants to go through sheer brute force, they can go vastly faster if they don't have to worry about running into stuff in the way. To facilitate this, chains of laser armed space stations have been built in interstellar space to clear specified travel corridors of errant dust and gas. The net effect of this is to create an artificial network of lanes.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The novels subvert this trope by having Casual Interstellar Travel of the vanilla variety (by hyperspace) for everyone, but featuring a wormhole network that allows for instantaneous travel between its termini, thus radically cutting on a delivery times. Naturally, the heroes' homeworld has the biggest bunch of those holes. Wormholes in the Honorverse don't really form a network, though. Various wormhole termini are usually too far apart for anyone to get from one to another, without hyperdrives that also allow FTL travel. They just supply a few very convenient shortcuts between some places.
    • Even in the Vanilla Hyperspace, there are also Grav Waves, for lack of a better term, "wrinkles" in hyperspace, that ships can use special energy sails to ride on to cut their travel time down considerably. These waves end up becoming de facto hyperspace lanes in their own right.
      • And before they learned how to do that, hyperspace lanes existed because people trying to map hyperspace tended to die horribly by hitting grav-waves. So once there was a known safe route, people stuck to it.
  • The Trope Codifier for genre SF was the Alderson Drive used for interstellar travel in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's 1975 novel The Mote in God's Eye (sporadic earlier examples existed, but this was the really influential one). It only works at specific "Alderson Points" in a star system, each of which leads to another specific system. Activating the drive anywhere else just burns up a lot of fuel for nothing. The story is a deconstruction: the Moties only escaped discovery and overrunning the universe because the only point into or out of their system leads within a supergiant star that would destroy unshielded ships on arrival. And this was the only reason the Moties never used their own version of the FTL device; they didn't have the humans' force field technology to survive at the far end of the trip, so explorers never came back.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe each star system only has a limited number of other star systems which can be reached via hyperspace. Anyone trying to go anywhere else is never seen from again, presumably trapped in hyperspace. Even trying to stop partway between two connected systems is impossible. Some lanes are only open to ships with low mass, while the Knnn, being incomprehensible methane-breathing Starfish Aliens, can use lanes that are inaccessible to other species.
  • The History of the Galaxy books have this with Hypersphere and its "horizontal" tension lines stretching between large stellar bodies in relative vicinity. Normally, ships use these lines to guide them to their destination. Originally, ships had to "surface" into normal space at each "node" (i.e. system) before "submerging" again. This allows for choke points and ambushes during the Galactic Wars. However, later advances allow ships to "change lines" while remaining in Hypersphere, throwing that tactic out the window. Later books have The Federation discover the center of Hypersphere, where all the "vertical" tension lines converge into one point, and find out how to use this "hub" to travel "up" and "down" any vertical to any system in the galaxy. While this would seem to indicate a new period of unrestricted galactic exploration, the government quickly puts a lid on the knowledge and prevents travel into unexplored systems, fearing an advanced enemy that, with the knowledge of the "hub", could strike anywhere without warning.
  • FTL travel in The Flight Engineer is reliant on naturally occurring jump points that only connect to a few other points.
  • In Christopher Nuttall's Ark Royal trilogy FTL travel is dependent on gravimetric "tramlines". Most routes that human ships can handle are five lightyears or shorter, but the enemy can go much, much, further.
  • In the linked stories "Hideaway," "Minla's Flowers" and "Merlin's Gun" by Alastair Reynolds, we have The Waynet. Waynet lanes are known to allow travel at light speed, but the knowledge of how to enter them has been lost for at least tens of thousands of years.
  • In The Sirantha Jax Series, travel through grimspace requires following beacons and nodes created by the Makers in ancient times. The beacons are the only way of navigating in grimspace, as normal GPS systems don't work in it and maps are useless while inside thanks to its strange properties. Problem is, only people born with the "J-gene" (called jumpers) can still perceive the beacons while making grimspace jumps. Grimspace travel is like a addictive drug for jumpers, giving them a orgasmic high. It's also highly destructive to the mind and body of jumpers, ultimately leading to either a mental breakdown or jumpers developing brain lesions that eventually cause them to make a jump and come out of it brain dead (this is called "navigator burnout syndrome" and means that most jumpers don't make it past thirty).
  • In John Scalzi's The Interdependency series, the only way to travel FTL is through the Flow, a hyperspace-like dimension that can be accessed through weak spots called Shoals that lead to a specific exit Shoal in another system. The reason the Hub system is the political and economic center of the titular empire is because it has Flow links to most populated systems, thus being a natural center for trade. As a side note, Earth had been cut off from the explored Flow network centuries prior. The Shoals in most inhabited systems are destabilizing and will render all of the colonies unable to contact one another. As all colonies are deliberately made to depend on one another, this will mean the end to most colonies. End is the only human settlement in the entire Interdependency on a habitable planet and, thus, is the only habitat that is likely to survive. The second novel also reveals that Earth has been cut off deliberately by the precursor to the Interdependency. The method used to do it is likely the catalyst to the current Flow crisis.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, most ships traveling in Hyperspace make sure to closely follow the navigational beacons transmitted between the Jump Gates. They could go in any direction they want, and try to take shortcuts, but then they run the very real risk of joining the ranks of ships that have gone off the beacon never to be seen or heard from again. Larger ships, which can create their own jump points, have more sophisticated navigational equipment which allow them to travel more freely. Even the larger ships will find themselves in trouble if they lose their navigation systems or engines in combat in hyperspace, drifting helplessly into the void. For this reason, most commanders, if given any real choice, will avoid fighting battles in hyperspace, instead preferring to mass their forces near strategic key points such as jump gates or planets.
  • Andromeda:
    • Slipstream works like this, with several, constantly shifting, "routes" that pilots need to string together to get from one point to another. Slipstream travel must also be handled by a living pilot, rather than an AI, because slipstream navigation is heavily reliant on pilot instinct rather than set rules.
    • Several star systems are strategically important because you need to travel through them on your way from one slipstream to another. Just the place to lay in ambush, or place a BFG IN SPACE!.
    • In one episode, they're trying to get to Tarn-Vedra (the lost capital planet of the old Commonwealth) by following a ridiculously complicated sequence of slipstream routes. Several of the steps are jumps between different galaxies. Of course, they are following the diary of a guy named Hasturi, nicknamed "the Mad Perseid". It's a wonder he didn't have them go through the Route of Ages.
    • The Tarn-Vedrans intentionally messed with the slipstream during the start of the Long Night to get rid of any easy paths to their system; cutting off the 'freeways' and only leaving a long, twisting 'dirt road' leading in or out.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Borg use a network of transwarp conduits, allowing them to go almost anywhere in the galaxy in a matter of minutes.
    • Star Trek: Voyager also encountered a network of underspace corridors built by the Vaadwaur and maintained by the Turei. As Voyager is a long way from home, they're naturally interested in using them, and as per usual hostile aliens would prefer that they don't.
    • Star Trek: Discovery has a system that allows for near instantaneous travel through pathways used by certain spacefaring amoeba-like animals. A trip that would take days or weeks now takes seconds, and is undetectable. However, it's a lot less troublesome than the usual idea (where the transwarp conduit's opening might be on just the other side of that Klingon blockade or something.) and allowed for Teleport Spam around one enemy ship at one point.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which began on radio with exactly this premise: the ostensible reson for obliterating the planet Earth is to clear an obstacle from a proposed intergalactic hyperspatial bypass to be built, for your comfort and convenience, through your star-system. Regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. note 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: In the Heaven's Reach shard, interstellar travel is achieved through the Grand Canals, a network of routes where the laws of physics were weakened in the ancient past to allow ships to traverse hundreds of light years in days or weeks at the cost of risking dangerous physical and mental breakdowns.
  • Imperium: In order to travel at FTL speeds, starships had to use hyperspace jump routes between stars.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Warp travel theoretically lets you go anywhere if you're willing to put up with the inherent dangers of traveling through Space Hell. That said, the Warp has "currents" that make travel in certain directions easier than others, so a ship going from Calth to Hydraphur will get there faster than one moving from Kar Duniash to Macragge, even though the latter is a shorter distance in realspace. When sub-sector maps are drawn up for Battlefleet Gothic, this makes them resemble half-finished connect-the-dots puzzles, where to get from point A to point B requires arcing through points C, D and E instead of moving the inch or two to B.
    • The galaxy has since been cut in half by perpetual Warp rifts that not only apply Chokepoint Geography to the Hyperspace Lanes, the part of the galaxy on the other side of the Astronomican can't even use Warp travel.
    • It's mentioned that planetary gravity prevents entering/exiting the Warp, so ships need to emerge at the edges of the system and coast towards the planet. How often this actually applies, and the distances (and time) involved depends on the writer.
    • There's also the Webway, a labyrinthine highway in the warp constructed by The Old Ones. It has set entrances/exits called Webway gates. If a traveller isn't close enough to enter it, or its destination isn't close enough it, then they have to make their way there the old-fashioned way, for at least part of the trip. Only the Eldar and the Dark Eldar have access to the Webway, the latter live inside it in fact, and they use it because normal Warp travel is extremely dangerous to them, mostly due to the Eldritch Abomination that will eat their souls if they ever go inside.
  • Traveller:
    • Jump routes are limited mainly by the presence of fuel stops. As most ships can only jump one parsec at a time, that means that most traffic follows places where the stars are one parsec apart. A ship equipped for the purpose can obtain fuel at a gas giant without landing in port, but it is still necessary to be in-system. A ship can theoretically jump in whatever direction it wants. However, coming out of jump in deep-space is disastrous without fuel supplies to get back, and there is almost never any reason to do so.
    • Before the invention of jump-3 (3 parsec jump), one Terran Confederation ship during the Interstellar wars carried extra jump fuel in drop tanks. That option is still available during the Third Imperium, as is jumping as much as 6 parsecs. Normal merchant traffic seldom has motive for either of these because of the extra space the jump engines take up; more then one parsec is usually given to warships and sometimes to merchantmen running specialized contracts. Normal traffic abides by the one parsec rule, and thus policymakers have to still assume that when building infrastructure.
  • 2300 AD: had FTL limited to a maximum distance of 7.8 light years and trips had to end near a stellar-mass object. Combine that with the real map of the stars around our solar system and you get choke points, dead end routes, and stars (or even connected networks of them) that are just beyond the distance limit and so are completely unknown except by sending slower than light space probes. When there is a gap between star systems, ships will sometimes either carry extra fuel, or visit a Space Station maintained for the purpose, if the motive is strong enough.
  • Fading Suns has the portal version with the added bonus of requiring "keys" to access a given gate.
  • Merchant of Venus: Travel goes along hyperspace lanes (unless one manages to find usable jumpgates). Finding routes (successions of systems) that allow for especially lucrative voyages is a main key to success.
  • Starfire uses "warp points", similar in basic concept to Alderson Points, but without the need for a specialised drive to use them. Just go to the point and the ship disappears and reappears at the other end in a different solar system. Some systems have many such points, making them places which see a lot of use, and are highly desirable strategically. Warp points are rated according to how big a ship they can admit without it being torn apart by gravitational stress, and also whether they can be detected easily. "Open" warp points can be detected from some distance away, but a "closed" warp point cannot be found until a ship blunders into it. The openness of a point is not connected to that of the corresponding point at the end of the transit, making closed points very dangerous to those on the wrong end.
  • Played with a bit in Battletech. Kearny-Fuchida Drives have a maximum range of around thirty light-years, but contrary to popular belief in and out of universe they are not restricted to exiting hyperspace at the "jump points" within a solar system: Close proximity (relatively speaking) to a star or other large gravity well is just about the only place where safely returning to normal space is a problem, so in theory it's entirely possible for a jumpship to take a shortcut by dropping out of hyper in the dark between the stars to recharge its drives. But in practice this is rarely done, because it comes with significant risks: KF Drives are pretty delicate bits of equipment, and the most reliable way of recharging them after a jump without causing excessive wear on the core is to use a large solar sail array. For obvious reasons this doesn't work well in deep space.
  • Coriolis The Third Horizon: Portals are continually open wormholes usually found in close orbit around a star. They're believed to have been created by a Precursor civilization and humanity doesn't know how to build new ones, but were able to destroy them during the Horizon Wars, cutting the star cluster known as the Third Horizon off from the First and Second. Most colonized stars have one or two portals, requiring most interstellar travelers to pass through a chain of portals, but the Horizon's unofficial capital of Kua has four.
  • In Starforged, the sci-fi standalone expansion for Ironsworn, faster-than-life travel takes place in a series of drifts. A sidebar explains that FTL travel is "undertaken in a series of discrete segments" to encourage players to explore, with characters inclined to scout around the anchorage while their e-drive recharges. This matches up to how the original Ironsworn runs expeditions.
  • Starfinder: After the Drift Crisis is resolved, stable "drift lanes" emerge from the notoriously unstable plane that can be used to travel to travel between the planets at either end in exactly one week instead of rolling three or five d6s to determine travel time.

    Video Games 
  • X-Universe:
    • The series as a whole uses a Portal Network for FTL travel. Jumpgates connect only to a single other gate, no system has more than four gates, and which gate connects to which does not change, barring meddling by the Ancients or, in X3: Terran Conflict and its expansion Albion Prelude, the player making use of the Hub. This is an Ancient-built structure that interposes itself between a pair of gates and can do so with up to three pairs at a time.
    • X: Rebirth has "space highways" similar to the trade lanes in Freelancer, which are meandering one-way paths of energy that will propel ships to high speeds in order to get between different zones (points of interest) in planetary orbit; ships are free to move around and exit highways at any point. Super-highways propel ships to FTL speeds and are used to get to different planets within a solar system, though they cannot be exited from until the endpoint is reached. Jumpgates are still used to get between different solar systems.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, ships can only jump from certain from a planet's gravity well to certain other planets' gravity wells, as well as only being able to jump to other star systems from the star in the system they're in.
  • Escape Velocity:
    • Ships can only jump from a given system to certain other (usually) nearby systems without stopping in other star systems along the way. Ships can enter hyperspace so long as they're far enough from the system center and at a full stop and can jump to any linked system from anywhere far enough from the system center. A consequence of this is that, broadly speaking, ships can leave any direction but enter from a predictable direction, making entering a system more dangerous than leaving as entry points make a great place for a Hyperspeed Ambush. The engines of the first two games allowed unidirectional links, but neither official scenario used it, leaving it for mods, while Nova's engine automatically adds reciprocity.
    • The Polaris tunneling organ in the third game (Nova) allows players to enter hyperspace without having to stop the ship, a multi-jump organ can allow players to make 10 or less jumps for the time and energy of one. Nova also has an unlockable hypergate network operating under lane rules (the advantage being that while there are only a few functional hypergates remaining, those tend to be in or near hub systems for the lane network, and the hypergate trip itself takes no time, so access to the hypergate network and keeping it in mind during path planning can shore off months from longer journeys).
  • In Naev, a fan made Spiritual Successor to Escape Velocity, hyperspace works much the same as in Escape Velocity, but with the caveat that hyperspace travel is limited to specific jump points in the system, with each jump point being paired to a corresponding point in another system, rather than being a generic coming and going location.
  • Endless Sky, another fan made Spiritual Successor to Escape Velocity, also has hyperspace lanes, but you can jump from anywhere in the system rather than having to be on the outside edge or at a specific jump point. At one point in the main storyline, you obtain a Jump Drive that lets you jump directly to a "nearby" system (within a radius of the one you're in) regardless of whether there's a lane to it or not, in many cases letting you skip intermediate jumps or access systems that were previously inaccessible due to not having a lane to them.
  • Space Pirates and Zombies has similar gameplay and likewise uses hyperspace lanes.
  • In Freelancer, there are two different systems of Hyperspace Lanes.
    • First are Trade Lanes within the systems. You can enter a Lane at any one of the Trade Lane Rings that are spaced along it, and you can cross an entire system in seconds this way. They're not explicitly stated to be faster-than-light, but the extent to which they are faster than even cruise engines implies that they're either FTL or close to light speed. If someone (usually a pirate) shoots at a ring enough, it will shut down and all traffic going through it will be forced out of the Trade Lane. As Trade Lanes are purely artificial constructs, less inhabited systems often lack them entirely.
    • Second are Jump Gates and Jump Holes between systems. Jump Gates and Holes form the basis of interstellar faster-than-light travel in Freelancer, and are functionally identical, save for the large ring and physical barrier to prevent unauthorized use around gates. Each gate or hole is only linked with one exit and they're usually on the periphery of systems. Most Jump Gates can be found at the ends of Trade Lanes, while Jump Holes are often harder to find.
  • Hyperspace Lanes are also used in the Final Frontier mod of Civilization IV, to justify the construction of roads in outer space. They are essential to the gameplay, as ships can only move one or two squares per turn. Unfortunately, this also means they are constant targets for Space Pirates.
  • In Privateer 2: The Darkening, hyperspace travel consists of jumping from one navpoint to another, with each jumping point a possible ambush site.
  • In FreeSpace and Freespace 2 travel between systems is done at jump nodes, essentially the end points of established wormholes that travel between systems.
  • Master of Orion II has more or less free travel — as long as it's star-to-star, in range and no black hole stands in the way, you'll get there. Also, randomly generated "stable wormholes" connected each a pair of systems for one-turn travel.
  • Master of Orion III used lanes. A ship technically could go "off-road," but doing so took far longer than using the predefined star lanes.
  • Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars uses warp points to randomly connect systems. Since star systems are now a part of the galactic map, it also takes 1 turn to travel from one warp point in a system to another, adding to the travel time. This can allow for strategic chokeholds, especially since your mobile factories can build fortifications at them, which block passage to unfriendlies. Wormholes are also present, but they're separate systems in this version. Also, a random event may allow your ship to go "off-road" to study an anomaly in deep space, but the ship then automatically returns to the nearby system, and it takes a few turns at most. As before, you can eventually research and build gates at warp points (1 per system) that link your systems into a Portal Network. This allows ships to travel directly between systems.
  • Infinite Space - Space travel is restricted to "starlanes", which are apparently a naturally occurring phenomenon.
  • Mass Effect uses Mass Relays (ancient space stations that function by creating a virtually mass-free "corridor" of space-time between each other) for interstellar travel. Even using standard faster-than-light travel requires ships to dump excess static and heat on galactic bodies, so going the long way between clusters that otherwise have mass relays is impractical. Due to a horrific Bug War that occurred due to reckless mass relay network exploration, explorer ships now take the slow way to an unexplored relay terminal before activating that route.
  • EVE Online:
    • Most of the map (commonly called "Known Space") uses fixed stargate pairs to allow travel between systems. However, Capital Ships can use their Jump Drives to ignore stargate connections, and Titans can even create temporary Jump Bridges to throw allied ships through. There also exist randomly appearing Wormholes, which can connect systems for a few hours.
    • The generally hostile and unknown regions known as "Wormhole Space" has no stargates, and travel between systems can only be done using wormholes. However, every system in wormhole space has one or more "static" wormholes which will always re-open with new destinations every time they collapse.
    • The appearance of an alien race invading the galaxy severely disrupted the normal network of stargates, culminating in a day when every gate in the galaxy went offline, and when the gates started coming back online, there were 27 systems whose stargates had been destroyed. The invaders then constructed their own stargates in those 27 systems, linking them to each other, but the only way to get in or out of that isolated region is to hope for a random incoming wormhole.
  • Sword of the Stars has humans reliant on fixed "nodespace" routes for interstellar travel and the Zuul can "rip" temporary nodespace routes. Unfortunately, while very fast, this method also annoys the Energy Beings native to that dimension. While humans only mildly annoy them (imagine a neighbor who randomly walks through rooms in your house), Zuul forcing their way through tends to piss them off (this is the neighbor with a battering ram who doesn't use doors). Both races occasionally have their colonies attacked by these so-called Spectres. And if you don't use energy weapons, you're screwed, as ballistic shots and missiles go right through them without damage. They also show up during battles in subspace, but those are pretty rare and can only happen with human/human, zuul/zuul, and human/zuul match-ups.
  • The first Star Control in strategy mode has colonies as nodes in a jump graph — and you can's know for sure whether and where each node is connected until you visit it.
  • Vega Strike has jump points network. Another form of FTL travel is limited to in-system use as relatively slow.
  • Ascendancy:
    • The game has "starlanes" — normal blue links usually taking a few turns to ride and red links that require improved drives to navigate in a reasonable time. There's also expendable devices blocking a starlane or speeding up everyone in it.
    • There is also a trick to making lane travel instantaneous, which involves developing a device that, when fired at a star lane (even red) momentarily destabilizes it, causing all ships currently using it to end up at their destination instantaneously. While this is a one-shot device, there is nothing to prevent players from building specialized ships filled with these devices and use them to create an interstellar highway of sorts, moving warships from one end of your interstellar empire to the other in several turns (as opposed to hundreds).
    • The Recall device instantly transports the ship equipped with it to the race's home system, no matter where it is. Very useful if the homeworld is threatened.
  • Haegemonia: Legions of Iron has naturally-occuring wormholes leading to fixed points in other systems. Interstellar travel is restricted to these, except for the final missions, where the humans manage to modify Darzok wormhole-blocking technology to allow a fleet to jump directly to a beacon that can be placed in any system. This can, essentially, allow you to avoid the entire enemy line of defense and go straight for the HQ.
  • Conquest: Frontier Wars has static wormholes connecting systems. The Celareons have the technology to make temporary wormholes to any system. The first mention of this is when they use it to save Captain Thomas Blackwell's corvette from falling into a black hole. This is the main reason why the Mantis are attacking them: they want the technology. And some Celareons are willing to deal with the Mantis in the hope that the bugs will leave them alone after this.
  • Galaxy on Fire II has this, overlapping with Portal Network. Nearly all systems have a jumpgate orbiting one of its planets (the design varies from race to race but the overall look is the same). The jumpgate allows a ship to travel from one system to another (you're even allowed to pick which planet in the target system you want to go to, although that's likely a gameplay shortcut), as long as they're connected on the starmap. Going to a remote system may take as many as 6 jumps, although that usually involves entering the gate, jumping, turning around, entering the other gate, etc. Other methods of FTL travel are later discovered, including the Void wormholes which are used by the Voids to raid planets. A scientist named Khador studies the wormholes and uses certain crystals from Void space to build an instantaneous jump drive to any system, although each use drains energy cells, which must be replenished at starbases. The Khador Drive can even be used to access systems not accessible via jumpgates (including Void space). In the "Valkyrie" DLC, Khador and Deep Science start building ships with integrated Khador Drives, freeing you from lugging one around everywhere. Interestingly, the prologue started with the Player Character's own hyperdrive malfunctioning. No mention of this method of travel after that, although, since we never see large ships (including freighters) using gates, it's implied that they have their own hyperdrives that can go even where there are no gates. Notably, you start the game (after the hyperdrive malfunction) in an isolated system and have to wait for a Terran battleship to arrive in the area to hitch a ride.
  • Elite:
    • For some not especially well-explained reason, the maximum distance it's possible to travel in hyperspace is seven light-years. Ships apparently don't have to exit hyperspace at a designated exit point, but not doing so would leave you with a bit of a problem if your FTL drive packed up.
    • In Elite: Dangerous, similar limits are in place, though with a much larger range, up to roughly 45 light-years. This allows for dynamic remapping of lanes between stars, but fuel consumption increases non-linearly as range increases, with the weight of the ship, cargo, and even the remaining fuel changing the jump range. This can result in the hilarious scenario in which you can only achieve a longer-than-normal jump range by expending too much fuel to make the jump.
  • At the beginning of Endless Space, you're limited to this mode of travel. Later, you can discover technology to utilize wormholes that are generated randomly throughout the galaxy and another technology allowing your ships to go "off-road", even though this path is way longer. Either way, ships at FTL are unable to change direction.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light uses lanes to go from point to point and then lanes from sector to sector, a small option can be enabled to show which points you can jump to from another point your mouse is hovering over (great for planning with the Rebel fleet on your tail). Players can acquire an augment that allows them to jump to any previously explored point in a sector.
  • The Tal-Seto jump points in Mission Critical connects nearby stars. It's initially hypothesized that every star in the galaxy is part of the network. After the protagonist travels to the Bad Future, he is told that the network was fully mapped out some time before that point and only constitutes a small part of the galaxy. The ELFs theorize that other networks may exist, but getting to them would require sublight travel to stars not on the network.
  • In Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages, the standard FTL engine is the anchor drive, which lets ships go faster than light by fixing them in place and letting the universe rotate around them. The only safe places to do this are the Rings and the Clipways, which are areas that have been removed of all debris that can impact a ship in anchorspace and obliterate it.
  • Justified in Titanfall: Demeter is the farthest human-colonized outpost that can be reached via FTL on a single tank. The Frontier worlds lie beyond this point so anyone looking to pass to the Frontier must go to Demeter first and refuel before they can progress to the Frontier. The Militia manage to cripple IMC in the penultimate story battle by destroying the fuel depot there, preventing them from reinforcing troops in the Frontier.
  • In Stellaris, the hyperspace network is the main form of FTL, allowing for chokepoints and other forms of tactical "space geography". The origins of these networks is never explored, and when a precursor homeworld or other hidden system is discovered, it is (usually) just added to the map with a new hyperlane. Alternatives come up in the late game (as well as the early game for Eager Explorers, who have to research hyperlane travel instead), but hyperlanes continue to define the shape of the galaxy throughout.
  • Galactic Civilizations III introduces "hypergates" to the series, explained as the various races taking the obsolete Jump Gates and repurposing them. While hyperdrive travel can be used to travel anywhere, civilizations can now set up a network of hypergates that massively speed up travel between them. Be warned though: those lanes are open to anyone, and other civilizations can use your hypergate network once it's been set up.

  • Outsider goes into great detail on why FTL travel is limited to jumps between nearby star systems.
  • Navigation in underspace in Harbourmaster involves following pre-placed Hub Beacons and routes. The Beacons are damn important too as underspace doesn't function like realspace and is next-to-impossible to navigate, so making blind jumps will just get you hopelessly lost (and don't even bother trying to use autopilots or drones; the properties of underspace cause them to shut down upon entry). Not only that, but ships can only stay in underspace for about two minutes before it's properties begin destroying the ship, so getting in and out quick is vital.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm:
    • Wormholes in OA are continually open and both ends have to be towed into place at sub-relativistic speeds, but once in place they allow travel across lightyears in a matter of weeks and can be arrayed in chains crossing known space.
    • For slower-than-light travel there's the Beamrider Network (a network of particle beam generators which propel spaceships) and the Lightways (a network of laser transmitters and receivers which send data, including people in virtual form).

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers took their cue from Star Wars on this one. Humans were still quite new to hyperspace travel, and there were a lot of things that could go seriously wrong (and did in-series) if your calculations were off or your drive was malfunctioning.
  • In the first episode of the uncanceled Futurama, "Rebirth", there is a mention of the Panama Wormhole, both as a way to resolve the Cliffhanger of the last movie and as a lampshading of the Channel Hop:
    Prof. Farnsworth: Of course! That was the Panama Wormhole, Earth's central channel for shipping.
    Dr. Zoidberg: [laughs] How humorous.
    Prof. Farnsworth: Yes, it's sort of a comedy central channel, and we're on it now.
    Amy: [gasps] I get it!
  • In the Justice League story "Starcrossed", the lanes are kept open by several "hyperspace bypasses" built on planets in real space along the way. The effect on the planet such that all life would be wiped out. If the term "hyperspace bypass" sounds familiar and the whole thing sounds like a less comedic version of the beginning of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Earth must be demolished so the highway can go through, that's 'cause it is.
  • In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "The Citadel", the Jedi lead a rescue mission to save the captive Tarkin and a Jedi Master as a result of this. It is apparently simple enough that it is something that a person can memorize. Each of them has half of it, which leads to a problem when Ahsoka ends up having the Jedi half. She will only give it to the Jedi council, while Tarkin will only give his half to the Chancellor's office.

    Real Life 
  • Certain interpretations of the variable speed of light cosmology would greatly increase maximum speed (both for light and for ships) when traveling along cosmic strings, and reduce relativity as well. Of course, any ship leaving the string would slow down considerably.
  • Some interpretations of the theoretical Alcubierre Drive limit its possible range through particles that accumulate on the warp bubble and may result in catastrophic releases of energy. This may lead to an Alcubierre drive having a practical range of, say, 10 LY. Since it cannot stop in the middle of nowhere and has to be "popped" from outside at the target star system, this will result in FTL travel taking the form of a series of warp jumps through close-by stars. If there's less than 10 LY to the next star along the lane, the way is clear; if it's more, you've reached a dead end.
  • While it would not be faster than light, one proposed method of interplanetary/interstellar travel would be similar, using lasers at both the launch point and destination to speed up and slow down respectively. A similar idea would use plasma beams instead of lasers.
  • The Interplanetary Transport Network could be considered an inversion of this. It's a network of routes that a spacecraft could use to travel between planets while consuming little fuel. However, travel via this network is also very slow.
  • A Krasnikov Tube would be an interesting version, as while not truly allowing faster than light travel, combined with incredibly advanced drives or the beam-riding near-light travel mentioned above would have similar effects. A Krasnikov tube is a kind of wormhole where the ends are displaced in time as well as space. A ship travelling or laying down down a 1000 lightyear-long K-tube, starting at our solar system, at a sufficient fraction of c so it only experienced 1 year of subjective time would arrive at the other end a little more 1000 years after it left, nothing unusual so far. However, if the ship immediately travelled back the tube at the same speed, it would arrive back home only two years after it left our solar system. Since it doesn't arrive at our solar system or the other end before it leaves, it may not violate causality. If they are possible to make, it could be possible for a galactic civilization to act as if they are all a few years apart from each other, despite being spread over 100000 lightyears and hundreds of millennia.

Alternative Title(s): Jump Nodes