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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Tramline  
  The line along which hyperspace (instantaneous travel) travel is possible.  

Hyperspace travel can be strange and frustrating.

It takes an immeasurably short time to travel between stars: but as the line of travel, or tramline, exists only along one critical path between each pair of stars (never quite a straight line, but close enough to visualize it so) and the end points of the paths are far from the distortions in space caused by stars and large planetary masses, it follows that a ship spends most of its time crawling from one end point to another.

Pathways are generated along lines of equipotential thermonuclear flux, and the presence of other stars in the geometric pattern can prevent the pathway from existing at all... They are difficult to find.

From The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle).
Published by Simon & Schuster in 1974
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