P-side and V-side

Please observe the instructions in this post when visiting your local spaceport for your comfort and safety.


When you turn up for an interstellar flight you’ll notice the two lines painted on the floor at the checkin desk. The orange line is on the outside, and up to this line the law of your home planet applies. This is called P-side, P stands for Planet. Once you check in and step over the black line, which is on the inside, towards the apron where the space liners are, you are diplomatically in interstellar space, and everything is governed by the protocol of interstellar law. This side of the line is the V-side or vacuum side.

The lines make a complete loop around the sensitive parts of the spaceport, so you will see them again as you leave baggage reclaim at your destination planet. Customs are operated by the local planetary government and are entirely P-side.

Please don’t treat this as a free way of avoiding the consequences of a crime. If you’ve stolen something and dive over the line, the station manager will heave you back into the arms of the waiting cops. Contrary to popular rumour the Arcturian station managers don’t carry guns, at least not all of the time, but they do have the assistance of some very fit baggage handlers.

Political asylum is another matter entirely. The protocol explicitly forbids planetary governments from operating a secret police, so if your home planet has one you can legitimately escape by crossing the line. Once there you as as much protected as you would be in an embassy.

On behalf of Arcturian Interstellar Space Lines may I wish you a pleasant flight.


What next?

Both books have now been available in all formats for a week.

What would you like me to blog next?

Would you like to see more technical detail about how Arcturian technology works? Or would you prefer to know more about the backgrounds of the characters?

Please let me know. Either post a comment on this blog entry or use the contact form.


The layout of the Eighty-Footer


This spaceship is the mainstay of the Confederate space fleet.

Paul has created a very good picture of it for the cover of Run from the Stars, which really shows you what standing next to it on a spaceport apron would be like.

This post is about one of the sketches I drew when I was writing the books to fix exactly where all the parts where and how it all joins up. I’m not a proper artist, I’m just an engineering draughtsman, so this doesn’t look nearly as good, but it does how you how the ship works.

If you click on the picture at the top you’ll see one page from the engineering drawing set which shows the arrangement of the major parts.

Important things to note are the way that the undercarriage maingears have to fold flat to fit into the very thin wings, and the enormous track width, almost thirty feet. The width of the track means that it is very forgiving of both bad landings and rough ground handling.

You’ll also see Dr. Mcallister’s signature in the “checked” box. You’ll meet her near the beginning of Turn to the Stars.

This is a list of the numbered parts:


1. Reaction Motors
2. Elevons
3. Waste Heat Radiators
4. Fusion Reactor
5. Orthodynamic Drive
6. Hydrogen Fuel for Fusion Reactor
7. Undercarriage Maingears
8. Plasma Turbines
9. Fin and Rudder
10. Gas Separator (under deck)
11. Emergency Escape Panel
12. Bed cabin
13. Personal effects stowage
14. Weapons Pod
15. Shower and WC
16. Electrical Equipment Room (gearspace)
17. Store room
18. Galley
19. Day Cabin
20. Fixed Teleportal
21. Pressure Suit Stowage
22. Airlock
23. Flight Deck
24. Undercarriage Nosegear
25. External Lights and Sensors Dome
26. Slot Antenna
27. Belly Motors
28. Lock-on Port
29. Docking Probe
30. External Services Connector
31. Fire Extinguishers and Smoke Masks
32. Reaction Mass Water Tank (under deck)
33. Accumulators (under deck)