Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Abuse of Hammerspace
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
This comes from a dream, followed by some lucid free-association to explain where the imagery came from. It seems to be set in Charles Stross's Laundry-verse, where Lovecraftian horrors lurk behind higher mathematics, and are the business of shadowy government bureaucracies.

Hammerspace is a well-known concept, dating back at least a century. Take a weapon, hide it in a higher-dimensional space (typically linked to a small talisman you can carry around with you). When you need the weapon, you can pull it "out of nowhere". Any conventional search will fail to find the weapon until you pull it out, so it was originally a great tool for covert agents. Eventually, however, spells were developed that could easily detect the low-but-constant level of Dimensional Stress caused by the link between the talisman and teh hammerspaced-weapon, so if your enemies had any halfway-competent sorcerers, this was no longer a covert weapon at all. Still useful in some circumstances, but it generally fell out of favor.

During the Cold War, some American Mad Scientists came up with a new twist on the concept, Hammerspace2. Instead of storing an *actual* weapon in Hammerspace, they could link a talisman to an abstract *description* of the weapon, and create that weapon de novo when the talisman was invoked. Or even just the parts of the weapon you cared about: Point this pen at an enemy, press the stud, and a stream of machine gun bullets emerge at a suitably high muzzle velocity from a point in space just in front of the pen-tip, no actual gun required.

This had several advantages over the old model, but some huge disadvantages also. On the plus side, the lack of a 'real' weapon being stored meant that the Dimensional Stress of the talisman (when inactive) was *much* smaller than the old-school model. It would take a skilled sorcerer to detect, and could even be 'disguised' as some other sort of talisman. When you actually *use* it, however, the sudden appearance of all that mass and energy violates all sorts of local Conservation Laws, leading to huge amounts of Dimensional Stress.

I've been tossing around the term Dimensional Stress, so let me now actually explain it a bit. For one thing, it equates to visibility. If you start firing a Hammerspace2 weapon, even an untrained person with a bit of Sight will notice something going on in senses that are normally dormant. Worse yet, it can be detected by Horrors From Beyond Space, so there's a non-trivial chance of a random demonic incursion from every firefight (either during, or shortly after). And just to put the cherry on top, Dimensional Stress has unpredictable effects on other magic spells and constructs. In game terms, chance of critical failure for magical operations at least doubles around this stuff.

So Hammerspace2 weapons are a weird mix of extremely stealthy, and about as UN-stealthy (and irresponsible) as you can get. Naturally, American secret occult agencies started using them. There were two main use cases.

1. Issued to long term deep-cover agents as holdout weapons to be used only in *extreme* emergency, after their cover was aleady blown. Almost none of these actually get activated.

2. Issued to James Bond style infiltrators whose missions are specifically designed to end with the bad guy's secret lair going up in an impressively large fireball. In this context, the significant chance of random demonic incursion is actually seen as a plus (with typical short-sightedness).

The Mad Scientist who created Hammersapce2 continued to refine and develop the technology. His ultimate creation was a one-off, and mostly kept off the official record books. It was discovered posthumously, and only fully understood after a lot of searching of his private papers.

It looks like (and in many senses IS) a comfy chair. It's linked to Hammerspace2 descriptions of a fighter jet, and an assault helicopter, so it can fly at huge speeds, or hover, or do pretty much any kind of maneuvering that you might want. The H2 decriptions of the vehicles include their weapon systems, so the flying comfy chair can emit heat-seeking missiles, and/or bullets in massive quantities. One of the innovations of the comfy chair is that it includes a sort of invisible force bubble around the chair, so that the user is not buffeted by high-speed wind (or bugs!). This also acts as armor to a limited degree.

This comfy chair is the ultimate expression of Hammerspace2; utterly innocuous in appearance, but ludicrously destructive when used. The vast amounts of kinetic energy released just by its flight create *vast* amounts of Dimensional Stress, practically guaranteeing demonic incursion to any battlefield it was used in. The inventor never actually used it. It was believed to be part of a paranoid contingency plan. If he ever needed to sever ties with his government sponsors, he had the capability of doing so in such a way as to completely destroy the facility he was fleeing from, sowing maximum confusion, and then putting a lot of distance between him and the disaster site. Presumably he had somewhere to flee *to* arranged, but that remins undiscovered. While the chair would leave a very easy-to-follow trail behind it, it would dissipate before long, and he clearly envisioned causing enough noise that no one would actually have the attention available to start *looking* until long after that.

This morning I dreamed of flying around in this chair, blowing shit up. Then my brain filled in the backstory behind it. Story concepts are hereby released into the wild. If you want to use 'em, feel free.
Tags:

  • 1
I kinda love you some times, Alexx.

Fun stuff. :)

I first encountered Hammerspace as "the place where Transformers' weapons go when they transform"...which we then defined as "the hand of the kid playing with them", which was a bit meta-contextual. Plus Highlander, of course. ("Where did she *get* that sword from!? She's in a bikini!")

Dimensional Stress sounds a bit like Paradox from Mage: The Ascension, though there it's the collective disbelief of the unconscious of the world's Sleepers. In my game (and maybe in the main game, I can't recall), there's a concept of delayed Paradox--where if you do something ridiculous in private, you're okay until the impossibility is revealed to Sleepers, at which point the paradox catches up with you all at once.

And have you been playing with programming language theory again? Cause that's what it sounds like when you go into abstracting out the functionality of a weapon, and having Sofa grab a mixin from AssaultCannon. ;) Or worse yet, the FiringBullets continuity, which gets invoked with the Sofa operator...

No programming theory for me, unless you count skimming jducouer's LJ without much comprehension. Your last few phrases *sound* like english, but I don't quite know what they mean :)

I had a dream last night where I had to go to work in the morning, walking all the way to Widener Library in the snow.
Your dream sounds more interesting than mine.
(Plus you clearly put more thought into it after the fact—I just rolled over and said "But it's a Saturday, and I haven't worked in Widener for *years*.")

Be assured, I have boring, work-related dreams plenty often.

Stop! Hammerspace!

No, wait, that's not it...

Stop! Hammerspace-time... continuum?

Hrm...

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account