"Science fiction is what scientists would do if they could - if they had enough grant money, enough time, and enough brains to do the wonderful things they would like to do."
The fatline is an artifact served up to humanity by The Core, a group of artificial intelligences that have effectively divorced themselves from human control. The term derives from the common acronym for faster-than-light, FTL.
I've included the reference here because I like the word and it's derivation; other earlier examples of faster-than-light communication include the ansible from Rocannon's World by Ursula LeGuin, ultrawave relay from the Foundation stories by Isaac Asimov and taprisiots from Whipping Star by Frank Herbert.
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