Portal Future Questions

I get a lot of questions about the Portal Future timeline and its worlds – which is definitely wonderful! – but it’s getting hard to keep up with them. There’s also the problem that I get variations of the same question in comments on different website pages as well as through my contact form.

I thought I’d experiment with a new system, where all the questions are gathered together so everyone can see the answers. If you have a question that’s specifically about details of the Portal Future, please post it as a comment on this page. Just have one question, or a very closely related group of two or three questions, per comment please. That way if I’m short of time, I can pick out a few of the questions that I think will interest most people.

As always, the answer to many questions will be that it’s a spoiler for future books. In the case where something is a spoiler for an existing published book, I may try giving the book/chapter reference. I’ll just have to experiment to see what works best.

36 Responses to Portal Future Questions

  1. Ann says:

    As we now know that the Tell Clan Council was/is very worried about Jarra being angry at being abandoned by them, did they send Drago to make first contact with her in Earth Star because he is charming and therefore going to make a good impression?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course they did. 🙂 In fact, both the Tell clan council and Colonel Torrek sent Drago in, giving him detailed and extremely contradictory orders about what to say, which he mostly ignored!

      Like

  2. Kitty says:

    What exactly are the weighted zonal nets that Leveque uses for his threat assessments?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine the weighted zonal nets as being a 28th-century method of assessing all the possible outcomes of a specific event weighted for the probability of the outcome happening, and they are normally depicted in a visual form. You could think of that visual form as performing an equivalent function to a pie chart, but the visual depiction of a weighted zonal net is far more complicated, with the probability zones repeatedly dividing as they head out from the inciting event.

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  3. An says:

    Since “Academy” is listed with the Alpha sector planets, does it have a representative in Parliament of Planets or should it be considered a “Sector Neutral” planet? Since it is headquarters for the Cross Sector Military should it really be considered an Alpha Sector specialist planet?

    Also; people at the Portal Future discussion forum have a few questions about Academy, so I thought I would ask them at the same time. 😁

    First, is the entire planet used or after terra forming, was one continent designated as inhabitable?

    And if yes, the entire planet is used –
    How do time zones work on Academy, given that it seems that the entire planet is used?

    Related: How do the Year End calculations work on Academy, and more broadly, on the Special Use planets (i.e.: do they have to roll over to Year Day before the Capital planet of the sector they are in changes to the new Year Day?)
    Thank you!

    Like

    • Spoilers! The good news is that you won’t have a long wait for answers, because the spoilers are for some details in the first draft of my next release, Sol 2781. It’s possible that a few of those details get eliminated in the revision stage, but some of them should make it through.

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    • Tempest says:

      Under ‘Fun extras’ there is a ‘Planets in the Portal Future’ selection. Under Alpha, Academy is listed as a planet. It is italicized. This is also the case for Winter the list of planets for Gamma sector. This leads me to believe it’s a specialized planet and thus does not have a representative in Parliament of Planets. Could go more into why I believe it does not have a representative but it’s all speculation.

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  4. Alice says:

    I had a discussion yesterday about sector dialects and it made me curious enough to post a question. The only actual question is “How do sector dialects work, actually?”, the rest of this is speculation/explanation and probably doesn’t need to be read.
    If newer sector’s dialects are closer to Language, would Jarra be better able to understand, say, Epsilon dialect than the ‘incomprehensibly strong” Betan dialect on a newzie in Earth Flight? How is a dialect strong, anyway? Is it something to do with speed, or accents? How different are sector dialects to Language anyway? In Earth Prime I believe Fian and Drago say “sic semper fidelis” and “ad finem fidelis”, if that’s Betan dialect it seems pretty different, and I imagine it has some different words and grammar for describing relationships. Also, I can kind of see Beta sector having a Roman/Grecian ish dialect, and newer sectors coming up with their own dialects, but how did Alpha sector end up with a single dialect with how different the planets are? Does each sector have only one dialect, or is that an oversimplification by Jarra? How often are sector dialects even used? Do words in sector dialects have any relationship with sector stereotypes, or is that more of a slang thing? The Military don’t have a dialect, but do they have specific jargon or slang?

    On the subject of language/Language, are you ‘translating’ the in-universe novels from Language into English, since Blaze couldn’t exactly read a sign in English? Or is it assumed to be a perfect translation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sector dialects are the words and phrases used in that sector that aren’t part of the standard common Language. The more of these words and phrases, the stronger the dialect. Epsilon sector has only had time to develop a few of these, so Jarra would definitely find Epsilon sector dialect easier to understand than the very strong Betan dialect.

      Betan dialect includes a variety of things such as ancient Roman and Greek phrases, old swear words and sexual references no longer acceptable in other sectors, and newly developed words that are more useful in Betan culture than in other sectors. For example, words for describing complex genetic relationships between clan members, and different types of triad relationships.

      You’re right about Jarra oversimplifying things where she has little personal knowledge or interest. As well as a sector having its own dialect that would be generally understood on all its worlds, most established planets will have a few dialect words of their own. That’s especially noticeable on worlds in Alpha sector, particularly on some of the more insular or distinctive worlds. Visitors to somewhere like Hecate might suspect its citizens of deliberately making it hard for other Alphans to understand them. And they’d be right.

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    • On your related question about language/Language, I am generally speaking ‘translating’ the in-universe novels.

      As mentioned in the Scavenger series, Thaddeus Carmichael Wallam-Crane imposed what was supposed to be an entirely new common Language on humanity, but he was naturally biased in favour of the language he spoke themselves. Since he was born and spent most of his life in London, common Language ended up including a lot of words from the English spoken in London around 2250.

      That means I’m effectively translating the novels FROM an evolved version of a common Language that was originally heavily influenced by the English spoken in London around 2250 INTO the English spoken in London now. Some of the future slang/profanities/dialect terms either aren’t translated at all or appear as an equivalently mangled version of current English. There is an oddity where Dalmore quotes from a common Language translation of a poem by Lewis Carroll. I quote from the actual poem, though in reality there’d be some inaccuracies.

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  5. Emma says:

    I’ve been curious for a long time about how you pronounce some of the names.
    Amelie: I’ve said AM-uh-lee, AM-il-lee and AM-eh-lee.
    Levque: Lev-ee-QUE and La-VEEK.
    Finally Emili (From the Hive Mind Future): IM-il-lee, em-i-LYE
    Or maybe Amelie and Emili are both spelling of Emily?

    Like

  6. Alice says:

    I can’t remember seeing any of the characters drink water-it’s always frujit or fizzup. Is there a reason for this, or have I maybe just missed some mentions?

    Like

    • There isn’t anything more significant than the characters’ individual tastes. There are a couple of points where the characters specifically drink water, and they’d do it at other times as well, but most of the mentions of drinks are at meal times where they are more likely to have specific drinks. Fian grew up with the healthy drink options favoured by his father. but doesn’t mind joining Jarra in drinking Fizzup as a bit of a rebellion. Jarra grew up in Next Step, where Fizzup was the most luxurious drink option, but she’s progressing on to frujit when she gets the chance. Frujit comes both as full-strength mixtures of fruit juice and diluted with water. Dalmora drinks tea, Krath is addicted to coffee. Amalie grew up on a frontier world drinking water flavoured with a dash of berry juice, so Fizzup was a new experience.

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  7. Strawberry says:

    Hey! We’ve come up with a few pronunciation questions on the wiki. If you’ve got time, we’d love to know how you imagined these names to be pronounced 🙂

    – Drago (Dray-go or Drah-go? Does the same go for Draco?)
    – Dramis (Dray-mis or Drah-mis?)
    – Dragon (the mythical beast, or Dray-gon?)
    – Jerez (English or Spanish J? And which syllable is stressed? If it’s the Spanish pronunciation, it would be the second syllable technically, but maybe not in the 28th century)
    – Jorgen (English J or Yorgen?)
    – Keren (Karen, or Ker-EN?)
    – Riak (Ree-ak or Rye-ak?)

    Thanks!!

    Like

    • There is no correct or incorrect way to pronounce the names in the Portal Future stories. There are many entirely new names, and as you say the old name pronunciation could have changed over the centuries. However you choose to think of them is fine by me.

      Since you’ve asked though, the way I personally hear the names in my head is like this:

      Drago is pronounced Dray-go, and yes the same goes for Draco.
      Dramis is Drah-mis.
      Dragon is the mythical beast. Blame Draco for that one.
      Jerez is the Spanish pronunciation.
      Jorgen is Yorgen.
      Keren is KerEN
      Riak is Rye-ak.

      Like

      • Strawberry says:

        Thank you! And ha, vindication for myself because most of these were how I was personally pronouncing them. Though of course it doesn’t really matter 🙂

        Like

  8. Birdie says:

    I have some assorted questions, inspired by a recent re-read of the series after I realized how many prequels there were.
    1. While in Next Step, Jarra refers to dating as ‘boy and girling’, however she also knows a boy with a boyfriend. Are they boy and boying, dating, or is there some other term?
    2. How distinct are the dialects? You’ve indicated before that the main difference is vocabulary, not grammar, but what percentage of their speech would still be regular Language? None? Half? Most?
    3. Do you have specific populations in mind for the sectors? I’d assume Kappa is somewhere in the ballpark of 200,000 since it’s mostly in Planet First/Colony Ten and Alpha and Beta are slightly bigger then Epsilon, Delta, and Gamma combined. Are Alpha and Beta the same size? How does Epsilon size up to more established sectors?
    4. Jarra spent all of her school breaks on dig sites but only three in New York Fringe; where else would amateurs go? Are there fringe sites for all major cities? Are some smaller cites entirely amateur sites?
    5. What would have happened if Jarra had actually contacted her parents at 14? Would they have been able to gain custody of her? On a related note, what would have happened (legally speaking) if Jaxon had succeeeded in finding her as a child?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Birdie,

      1. Generally speaking there would be exact equivalent phrases, so you’re correct about those two boy and boying.

      2. Most of the words would still be in regular Language.

      3. There’s a lengthy thread discussing sector populations and planetary representatives (partly based on the information given at the end of Earth 2788) on the Planets in the Portal Future page. Eventually, I’ll try and move all the information over here, but I’m too busy at the moment.

      4. Not all major cities have dig sites, because some are just too big a mess with flooding and other issues. While many cities with main dig sites have fringe areas, some like Eden are too hazardous for amateurs. You are correct that some smaller cities/towns are solely amateur sites, but Jarra’s history teacher deliberately takes his pupils to the fringe sites linked to main dig sites because it’s better preparation for those wanting to train to be professional archaeologists.

      5. If Jarra had contacted her parents at 14, they could have gone through a process to regain custody. If Jaxon had succeeded in finding her as a child, then they’d have been in a messy position with no legal route to get custody of Jarra until she was 14. However, negotiations/unleashing the dragon would probably have made the main board of Hospital Earth surrender fairly quickly.

      In fact, in both situations, the real problem would have been Jarra’s reaction. If they’d encountered her before her experiences with the Asgard 6 class then her response would have been totally unpredictable, and she could have changed her mind about how she felt multiple times.

      Like

  9. Gillian says:

    When planets are being given names of gods, is it only ‘ancient’ ones which aren’t really followed anymore, or is it just chance that those are the ones we’ve seen? ie could there be a planet called Vishnu / Omoikane / Jehovah? I can see followers of the religion wanting to call their own world that, but being offended if other people named a world after their gods. Would the discovery by physicists that there may have been a creator (that you mention in Earth Girl) have had any bearing in the naming of planets?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The tradition of naming worlds this way actually started because several leading politicians suggested naming Earth’s first colony world after Thaddeus Ignatius Wallam-Crane the fourth. Ignatius knew perfectly well that was becuase they were planning to name the following new worlds after them. When Major Kerr made his comment in the original Earth Flight about the new world from space being the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen, Ignatius swept in and announced that colony worlds would follow the tradition of planets in Earth’s solar system and have names from ancient mythology. Major Kerr’s comment about the first world being beautiful famously led to it being named Adonis. Humanity still sticks to the mythology rule to avoid any more egotistical or otherwise awkward names.

      Like

  10. Lala says:

    Currentl rereading everything and some questions have unfortunately already entered my mind and refuse to leave. Dividing into multiple comments at my best abilities.

    1. How many birth clan members does the Tell clan have? It’s been mentioned that they are a small clan which is why Jarra was their first Syndrome birth but how small is small exactly?

    2. How many of those are active/retired military? Approximate percentages work too if answering 1 is too spoilery. 🙂

    Like

    • There are complications/spoilers in answering this in too much detail. In 28th century Beta sector, it’s considered normal for a long-established clan to have over a thousand members., so the Tell clan is small by those standards. Very large clans get unwieldy, so are likely to either have a planned amicable division, or an unplanned distinctly unamicable split. Over 90 per cent of the Tell clan birth members are active/retired Military, but there are vague areas such as lengthy civilian sabbaticals as well.

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  11. Strawberry says:

    Since it’s discovered in 2789 that Immune Syndrome has to do with the star a planet orbits rather than the planet itself, will the Earth solar array begin employing people with immune syndrome, or would that be impossible since part of the training takes place on Academy?

    Like

    • I’m assuming that people with the immune syndrome could safely work on solar arrays in Earth orbit, and in the orbit of other suitable planets as well. To avoid major spoilers, I can only say that the Military will be focussing on other issues ahead of this one.

      Like

  12. Jerrell I JOHNSON says:

    Strawberry -The story did not say immune syndrome was a result of the star, but that immune syndrome tolerance worlds had solar storms. It may be you have mixed cause with effect.

    Like

    • In Earth Flight, Leveque says – “Unfortunately, the Planet First teams have been deliberately selecting colony worlds of this specific type, because they’re also worlds that experience low levels of solar storms.”

      I don’t think there would be any spoilers involved in me clarifying that I’m assuming the star is definitely a central factor, but other factors such as a planet’s distance from the star could be important as well.

      Like

  13. JERRELL I JOHNSON says:

    It would take a serious deorbiting burn to cause the skeleton dart to hit the sun. It would 59% burn to excape the solar system.

    Edited by J.E. Don’t post things that break the telepath code of good manners or I will go Sapphire on you.

    Like

    • I believe your issue is to do with the original plan in Sol 2781 that the skeleton dart fighter would be sent to burn up in the sun to prevent it becoming a space hazard that could damage satellites. Sending the skeleton dart fighter out of the solar system would potentially make it more rather than less hazardous, so was never an option.

      In fact, sending the skeleton dart fighter into the sun didn’t actually happen in the end. Instead, the skeleton dart fighter was cut up into small enough pieces that one impacting a heavily shielded satellite wouldn’t be a problem, so they were just knocked vaguely aside.

      I have a maths degree but there’s no point in posting an answer that general readers won’t understand., so I’ll keep this simple by referring to real-life examples.

      It is perfectly possible for an object in space to hit either a planet or the sun, or to go so close to the sun that it suffers extreme damage.

      Real-life examples.
      In August 2019. a sungrazer comet hit the sun.
      In July 1994, fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter.
      To see space debris hitting Earth, you can watch any meteor shower – the Leonids are due to peak on November 17-18 in 2022 with Earth passing through debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle.

      Moving on to the case of an object in space orbiting either a planet or the sun. To quote NASA – “An object’s momentum and the force of gravity have to be balanced for an orbit to happen. If the forward momentum of one object is too great, it will speed past the other one and not enter into orbit. If momentum is too small, the object will be pulled into the other one and crash. When these forces are balanced, the object is always falling into the planet, but because it’s moving sideways fast enough, it never hits the planet.”

      So, the original plan was that pilot of the skeleton dart fighter would start it deorbiting, after which the pilot would abandon ship and be collected. The skeleton dart fighter would continue the burn until it ran out of power which would definitely be a serious deorbiting burn.

      Real-life example of a deorbit.

      On 23 March 2001 Russia deorbited the Mir space station. This was achieved by three burns. You can see more information at https://www.nasa.gov/feature/20-years-ago-space-station-mir-reenters-earth-s-atmosphere

      Like

      • Jerrell Johnson says:

        The two important factors in an orbit are gravity and angular momentum. Gravity pulls towards the sun. Angular momentum keeps it from hitting the sun. You have to decrease angular momentum to get close to the sun.

        Like

      • You said that the two important factors in an orbit are gravity and angular momentum. Gravity pulls towards the sun. Angular momentum keeps it from hitting the sun.

        That is exactly what I said in my previous reply quoting NASA. That quote refers to orbiting a planet but the same thing obviously applies to orbiting the sun. – “An object’s momentum and the force of gravity have to be balanced for an orbit to happen. If the forward momentum of one object is too great, it will speed past the other one and not enter into orbit. If momentum is too small, the object will be pulled into the other one and crash. When these forces are balanced, the object is always falling into the planet, but because it’s moving sideways fast enough, it never hits the planet.”

        You said that you have to decrease angular momentum to get close to the sun.

        If you are talking about the situation when an object is ALREADY in a stable orbit around the sun then it is obvious that its momentum would need to decrease for it to get closer to the sun. That reduction could be caused in several different ways including collision with another object. In my previous reply, I was talking about the example of a spacecraft using a deorbiting burn to reduce its angular momentum.

        I’ve spent a lot of time responding to you in as simple terms as possible, giving examples and quoting NASA to try and avoid confusion . I’ve still no idea what bit of Sol 2781 is worrying you. Please either accept that I’m a mathematician and know what I’m talking about or quote the actual sentences. At the moment, we are both agreeing with each other, so I don’t understand the problem.

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  14. Gill says:

    In ‘Frontier’, Amalie is mentioned as wearing dresses frequently, even when it would seem more practical to be in trousers (i.e. at the community day to build the new school dome), and Dalmora and her sisters wear saris in Earth 2788. Has there been a general move towards female-identifying people wearing skirts as a default? I can imagine Dalmora might be a cultural thing, especially as it’s a special occasion, but wouldn’t it be more practical to wear trousers on frontier worlds, if nothing else so hand me downs can go to anyone rather than just the same gender.

    Like

    • Both Dalmora and Amalie are exceptional cases because their specific planetary cultures influence their dress. Amalie would strongly agree that it would be far more practical to wear trousers on frontier worlds. On her world, Miranda, though, girls are put under extreme pressure to wear skirts. This is a method of making female colonists more noticeable among the larger number of male colonists, and encourages them to conform to their expected role in Mirandan society.

      While Dalmora wears saris by choice, and continues to wear them when she joins Asgard 6, Amalie rapidly adapts to mostly wearing the equivalent of trousers like Jarra and the other girls.

      Like

  15. MerryB says:

    Cheese fluffle recipe, please? Not sure what to search for

    Like

    • Eventually, (if real life ever calms down) I hope to post all the snippets of information from previous comments here. For now, I’ve tracked down a previous comment asking about cheese fluffle so I’ll copy my answer here:-

      Jarra is passionate about cheese fluffle, but has only ever done camp fire cooking at dig sites. She buys her cheese fluffle ready made in cartons, so I’ve only been able to get vague information from her about the process of making it. Fian is totally useless on this subject, because you only have to say the word cheese fluffle and he throws cushions at you.

      So this is an approximation at best. You bake potatoes until they are really soft inside. Scoop out all the potato from the skins and put it in a bowl. While the potato is still piping hot, add equal amounts of grated hard, strong tasting cheese. Mix thoroughly, reheating as necessary so the cheese melts into the potato, and ‘fluffle’ it thoroughly with a fork. To add the correct extra tang to the taste, you have to wait until the invention of interstellar portals to get the correct seasonings from Alpha sector worlds, so maybe skip that bit.

      Jarra likes eating her cheese fluffle with toasted wafers. 28th century toasted wafers are similar to toasted slices of bread, but quite a dark brown and flat as if they use bread that hasn’t risen properly.

      Like

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