Here, star systems are connected with "wormholes". The wormholes facilitate travel at $250\ c$, regardless of mass. They are made using special ships. Any travel (including military vessels) not through the wormholes is well below light-speed (not more than $0.05\ c$, ).

It takes a road builder ship $50$ years to make each endpoint and $30$ years to make a light-year of "road". So, for example, to connect two systems $10$ light-years apart, a road builder ship takes $400$ years. A road cannot be constructed by more than 1 ship, not even by building from opposite ends. All of a road has to be built by one ship. Additionally, roads cannot intersect in the middle.

Here are some more information on the setting:

  • FTL communication faster than the wormholes (at $10000\ c$) is available, but the transmission and reception equipment are too large for ships and are generally constructed on planets.
  • The wormhole endpoints orbit the stars, and are indestructible and immovable for the purposes of this question.
  • The possibility of simply making the trip without a wormhole remains.
  • There are "countries" in this setup; a country contains around as many systems as there are cities in a real-world country.
  • Two adjacent countries are generally connected (edge system(s) with edge system(s))

My question:

How would governments connect their systems, and how would connection treaties be made (i.e. how the adjacent countries connect their countries)?

I picture only few (one?) connection between adjacent countries, because then only one system has to be defended in case of an invasion.

Edits in response to comments

  • A wormhole endpoint is an endpoint of only 1 road.
  • A wormhole endpoint is 100 km in diameter and cannot be "turned off" (for the purposes of this question).
  • Even in the roads, light travels at lightspeed, so incoming vessels cannot be detected early.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1) Can a single "endpoint" station connect up to multiple "roads" or does every road need two dedicated endpoint stations? 2) What can an operator of an endpoint station do (if anything) to prevent incoming travel? Can they "switch off" the endpoint? 3) What is the diameter of the wormhole entry/exit point? Can it be feasibly barricaded, as with the "iris" in Stargate? 4) Can entities linger in the wormhole? What capacity does an endpoint station have for detecting incoming users of the road? $\endgroup$ – Pink Sweetener May 5 '18 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ @PinkSweetener 1) The latter. 2) Nothing (for the purposes of the question). 3) 100 km. 4) No; nothing. (Question edited to answer your question.) $\endgroup$ – user_194421 May 5 '18 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ What kind of Government are we talking about? Are there any kind of underlying threats going around? $\endgroup$ – Sasha May 5 '18 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ I would expect both end-governments to have forts on both ends of the wormhole, in continuous encrypted contact with the other end, to provide an early warning of anything untoward (unauthorized entries, incoming armies and so on). And some kind of "cap" on the ends of the wormhole to prevent unrestricted ingress/egress; maybe the endpoints are inside hollow asteroids, or filled with mines in complex movement, so that you need an updated code to know where to safely exit. $\endgroup$ – LSerni May 5 '18 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ For FTL communication, is it the same as the wormholes, a 1 to 1 connection, or can any ansible connect to any other ansible? $\endgroup$ – Seserous May 5 '18 at 23:40

This is how railroads worked ~1914

Since your transit network has finite speed, the dynamics are very similar to how Europe worked in the age before cars provided competition to rail.

Powerful nation states sponsor railroad networks within them. The networks may be run by private interests (as in England), by the state (Germany and Russia) or a combination of the two (France wasn't fully nationalized until 1938). But whoever runs them, the government controls how passes the borders.

Rail borders are obviously easier to control than the rest of the border, since railroads are discrete, but a border is continuous. Customs stations would be established at all crossings to ensure that appropriate tarrifs are paid, undesireables are kept out, etc.

Furthermore, in the case of Europe, not all railroads were compatible. In 1914, 1/3 of French railroads were narrow gauge as opposed to the standard gauge. Russia on the other hand, used 1525 mm broad gauge as opposed to the standard 1435 mm used for the main lines in the rest of Europe. This means that a train could not go direct from St. Petersburg to Paris; it would have to go to Warsaw, where the passengers would transfer to another train on a different rail system that would transfer. The Russians did this partially to ensure that rails could not be used by the rail stock of an invading German or Austrian army.

To answer your question...

A nation would have multiple connections to other powers, in all the directions needed for fast communication with diplomatic and trading (and tourism, and immigration) partners. These connections would be pairs of wormhole endpoints. You come out of one wormhole, go through customs, then enter the other nation's wormhole.

The wormholes may have sufficient technical differences that prevent easy passage. For example, narrow gauge rail could be equivalent to wormholes that don't pass very large ships; big international merchant carriers would have to offload to smaller local merchantmen. The gauge change a la Russia might be a more technical aspect of the wormhole. Perhaps to transit a wormhole you need a specialized field generator, one certain nation's wormholes are only tuned to certain wormholes. This is the best way for a nation scared of invasion.

For nations prouder of their own army (like Germany was), and with no fear of invasion, defense of the borders depends on the threat of retaliation from the Fleet. Surely there would be a police force, but if you have a strong enough battle fleet, it isn't really justified to man an expensive fort if everyone else to too afraid to attack you. Also note that if diplomats and spies are common (as they were in Europe in 1914) it would be pretty much impossible to mount a surprise attack, given the logistics required.


The paranoid country has alliances with the neighboring countries and only wormholes to those countries (those being the only ones were STL threats are feasible) using their neighboring countries as buffers connecting to any other country they need access to. Further paranoia says that with each alliance at each wormhole both countries have significant military forces at the ready at either end of each connection.


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