hyperspace n.

a dimension or other theoretical region that coexists with our own but typically has different physical laws, esp. such a region that allows an object to travel through it such that the total journey occurs at faster-than-light speeds; cf. hyperdrive n.

Originally (OED: 1867) a term in mathematics for a space having more than three dimensions.

SF Encyclopedia




  • 1928 K. Meadowcroft Invisible Bubble in Amazing Stories Sept. 508/2 page image Kirk Meadowcroft bibliography

    Are we not justified in supposing, by the analogy of the reversibility of reactions in chemistry, that the boundary lines of space and hyper-space may not be so rigidly drawn as we have supposed?

  • 1928 K. Meadowcroft Invisible Bubble in Amazing Stories Sept. 512/1 page image Kirk Meadowcroft bibliography

    We have discovered by my synthesis the factors necessary to produce a disturbance of spatial relation. We see they they may occur in nature; that under certain conditions, by the aid of lightning as well as by my tube, there may be produced the globules of hyper-space, which then seek each other out—flow together—and travel in vague and erratic fashion, as they may be drawn here and there by one influence or another. They seek each other out, not by any attraction but by the simple and all-powerful law of chance—the result of an infinity of chances—the most inexorable law of any universe. They seek each other out and flow together;—you will remember that.

  • 1931 J. W. Campbell Islands of Space in Amazing Stories Quarterly Spring 161/2 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    Well we would be stuck if we didn’t have this new method, for the acceleration would take too long. However, in the hyperspace we are going into, a new condition exists. Well you go into a hyperspace and move at any speed you please. I wonder then, how are you going to see where you are going?

  • 1934 J. Williamson Xandulu in Wonder Stories May 1168/2 page image Jack Williamson bibliography

    I can fold Space as readily as you double a sheet of paper. I can reach through hyper-space where distance means nothing.

  • 1934 ‘M. Leinster’ Sidewise in Time in Astounding Stories June 43/1 page image Murray Leinster bibliography

    Each exists in its own time and space, just as our universe does. But each must also exist in a certain—well, hyper-space, because if closed spaces are separated, there must be some sort of something in between them, else they would be together.

  • 1939 E. E. Smith Gray Lensman in Astounding Science Fiction Dec. 140 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    Wouldn’t have surprised me much if we'd been clear out of the known Universe. Hyperspace is funny that way, they say.

  • 1941 T. Sturgeon Artnan Process in Astounding Science Fiction June 66/2 page image Theodore Sturgeon bibliography

    As soon as he was out of the planet’s effective space warp, he slipped into hyperspace and traveled toward Procyon and its dark companion at many times the speed of light.

  • 1942 A. E. van Vogt Secret Unattainable in Astounding Science Fiction July 19/1 page image A. E. van Vogt bibliography

    The hyper-space machine at Gribe Schloss will be completed in February, 1941. No less than five duplicate machines are under construction.

  • 1951 I. Asimov Foundation 12 Isaac Asimov

    He had steeled himself just a little for the Jump through hyper-space, a phenomenon one did not experience in simple interplanetary trips. The Jump remained, and would probably remain forever, the only practical method of travelling between the stars.

  • 1952 C. Oliver First to the Stars in Astounding Science Fiction July 129/1 page image Chad Oliver bibliography

    It was a sub-space survey report—normal space being sub-space with respect to their ship, the Wilson Langford, in hyperspace—and seemed to be routine enough at first glance.

  • 1956 J. Campbell Islands of Space (1966) 37

    Instead of holding the field within it, completely enclosed, the big one will affect the space all about it. We will then be enclosed in what might be called a hyperspace of our own making.

  • 1965 S. R. Delany Ballad of Beta-2 (1977) 8 Samuel R. Delany bibliography

    They’d only been gone sixty years when the hyperspace drive became a large-scale reality.

  • 1969 M. Z. Bradley Brass Dragon (1980) iii. 51 Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    Then to hit your first star’s fourth planet, you have to come out of drive after seven weeks, two days and twenty-two and a half hours—that’s allowing for your standard time-mass drift inside hyperspace, see?

  • 1987 D. Brin Uplift War 274 David Brin bibliography

    So the battle fleet had arrayed itself. Ships kept watch over the five local layers of hyperspace, over nearby transfer points, over the cometary time-drop nexi.

  • 1991 M. Weiss King’s Test i. iii. 18 Margaret Weis bibliography

    One giant enemy mothership had been destroyed, but another had come out of nowhere (or hyperspace, which amounted to the same thing).

  • 1991 J. Varley Steel Beach (1993) 332 John Varley bibliography

    A year went by. Well, sort of a year, though my ducking in and out of the fourth dimension and hyperspace royally screwed all my clocks.

  • 1993 H. Harrison Repairman in H. Harrison Stainless Steel Visions (1993) 89 Harry Harrison

    I have repaired hyperspace beacons from one arm of the galaxy to the other and was sure I had worked on every type or model made.

  • 1995 A. Thomson Color of Distance (1999) viii. 84 Amy Thomson

    Was the mother ship gone as well? Had the Kotani Maru made the jump to hyperspace? Could they still come back for her?

  • 2008 A. M. Steele Galaxy Blues Jan. 126/1 page image Allen Steele bibliography

    Your vessel will be provided with the proper coordinates for a hyperspace jaunt that will take you to a system Kasimasta has recently entered.

Research requirements

antedating 1928

Earliest cite

Kirk Meadowcroft, "The Invisible Bubble"

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1942 cite from A.E. van Vogt.
Bill Seabrook located and Mike Christie confirmed a 1941 cite from Theodore Sturgeon's "Artnan Process".
Courtenay Footman submitted a cite from a 1966 reprint of E.E. Smith's "Gray Lensman"; Mike Christie verified it in the original 1939 magazine appearance.
Cory Panshin submitted a cite from a 1974 reprint of Murray Leinster's "Sidewise in Time"
Jeff Prucher noted that the Nicholls' Encyclopedia suggests that the term was probably invented by John Campbell in "Islands in Space" which first appeared in Amazing Stories Quarterly in 1931. Brian Ameringen submitted a cite from a 1966 reprint of "Islands of Space"; Robert Godwin submitted a cite from the 1931 first publication.
Cory Panshin submitted a cite from a 1970 reprint of E.E. Smith's 1934 "Skylark of Valeron".
Rick Hauptmann submitted a 1937 cite from Donald Wandrei's "The Black Fog"; however it's not clear whether this is the science fictional or the mathematical meaning.
Rick Hauptmann submitted a 1934 cite from Jack Williamson's "Xandulu".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1928 cite from Kirk Meadowcroft's "The Invisible Bubble"

(Earliest cite in the OED: 1947, though earlier cites exist for the mathematical sense "four dimensional space".)

Last modified 2023-05-30 11:54:48
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.