Dyson spheres in popular culture
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This is a listing of uses of the Dyson sphere concept in popular fiction. Most fictional works depict the Dyson shell variant. Unless otherwise noted, that is the type of Dyson sphere in the instances below.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics"—The crew of the USS Enterprise-D happens upon a full Dyson sphere while investigating a ship in distress. The sphere's automatic systems pull the ship through a side portal, revealing its interior as covered with habitable regions and ambient weather. Lieutenant Commander Data notes the interior surface area to be roughly that of "250 million class-M worlds". Later, he notes a diameter of 200 million kilometers, approximately two thirds Earth's orbit around the sun. About "Relics", Dyson said: "Actually it was sort of fun to watch it. It's all nonsense, but it's quite a good piece of cinema."
- Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda—the episodes "Its Hour Come Round At Last" and "The Widening Gyre"—The Magog Worldship. Several planetary objects with cave systems, physically locked in close proximity to a small sun, somewhat like the Dyson net variant of the Dyson sphere.
- In Crest of the Stars, the capital of the Humankind Empire Abh, Lakfakale, contains and is likely powered by a Dyson Swarm.
- The Mighty Orbots, Shadow Star employed by Umbra and its minions was depicted very much as transitional form of a solid shelled Dyson Sphere, though it was shown as having gaps and voids through which some measure of light escaped into outer space. It appeared to be a large planet with some parts of its surface torn away and others still connected in a rough analog Earth's own continental plates.
- In the Futurama episode "Decision 3012", President Nixon builds a "Dyson fence" on the southern border of the solar system to keep out illegal immigrants.
- The anime series Valvrave the Liberator is set in a distant future where 70% of human population lives in "space cities", large hexagonal structures nested on the surface of Dyson spheres, each having an artificial sun on its center.
- In the anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, one of the "Number" cards is Number 9: Dyson Sphere. When played, it is depicted as a colossal structure big enough to block out the sun.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe film Avengers: Infinity War depicts Nidavellir, one of the Nine Realms, as a Dyson sphere, with the realm drawing power out of a neutron star to energize its inhabitants.
- Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon. The novel which inspired Freeman Dyson to propose the concept of the Dyson sphere—he has suggested that "Stapledon sphere" would be a more accurate term for the technology.
- The Star Trek novel The Starless World by Gordon Eklund.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dyson Sphere by George Zebrowski and Charles R. Pellegrino. It is a follow-up to "Relics".
- The novels Orbitsville, Orbitsville Departure, and Orbitsville Judgement by Bob Shaw.
- The Ringworld series of novels by Larry Niven feature a Dyson Ring which requires an entire orbit.
- The "Journal Entries" from Elf Sternberg use a ringworld as their home called Pendor.
- The novel Spinneret by Timothy Zahn (Dyson net).
- The novel The World Is Round by Tony Rothman. Inhabited on the outside, central body is a black hole.
- Two novels by Frederik Pohl & Jack Williamson—These are notable in that the sphere in these novels is inhabited on the outside, producing an unusual environment with both very low gravity and an atmosphere hundreds of miles deep. Light is provided by clouds of bioluminescent organisms which feed on heat radiating from the "ground".
- The Commonwealth Saga (2002–2005) and Void Trilogy (2007–2010) by Peter F. Hamilton. In Pandora's Star, the sudden disappearance of two separate star systems separated by several light-years, called the "Dyson Pair", prompts the building of a faster than light starship, Second Chance, to uncover reason behind the disappearance. It is heavily theorised by characters that both stars have been enclosed in Dyson spheres. However, upon arrival, the Second Chance discovers that both systems have instead been sealed behind immense forcefields to imprison a hostile alien lifeform, not physical shells. In The Evolutionary Void the Sol system (including Earth) is entrapped behind a similar forcefield, which was derived from the Dyson Pair technology.
- The novel Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg.
- The novel The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, a sequel to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, depicts an alternate version of the future depicted in the original work, in which a Dyson sphere is built around the sun, and the dark area "beneath" its inner shell is inhabited by variants on the dark-dwelling Morlocks of the original work.
- The novel The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons, featuring a partly completed sphere, being grown using advanced biotechnology.
- The short story Star Light, Star Bright by Robert J. Sawyer.
- The novel Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer.
- The novel Postsingular by Rudy Rucker features a short-lived nanotech sphere around earth which harvests the planet's energy (simultaneously creating a virtual earth and perhaps inaccurately named a Dyson Sphere by its progenitor) but is quickly undone by a virus.
- The Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Also People by Ben Aaronovitch.
- The novel Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks; several Spheres mentioned only in passing as casualties of the Idiran-Culture War.
- The novel House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds; composed of thousands of individual rings surrounding stars.
- The novel Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds; surrounds a single planet only.
- The novel Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds (Passing reference).
- The novel Russian Spring by Norman Spinrad. (Brief mention in a news blurb)
- The novel Vacuum Flowers by Michael Swanwick.
- The Cageworld novels Search for the Sun!, The Lost Worlds of Cronus, The Tyrant of Hades, and Star-Search by Colin Kapp. Features concentric nested Dyson shells built from collected interstellar matter, also inhabited on their outer surfaces.
- The novel Illegal Aliens by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio mentions two Dyson shells. The first, simply called "Big", is the headquarters of a galactic federation. The second is unnamed and apparently consists of nothing but nested Dyson shells built by an insane race to cope with their sun getting smaller.
- The novel The Singers of Time by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson visits a parallel universe totally covered in Dyson shells, where only the farthest quasars are visible (already covered, but the light from them is still traveling). They were constructed by a formerly biological race that slowly converted their bodies to cyborgs and then full robots, the only logical evolution being the creation of a Type V or VI civilization.
- The novel Heaven's Reach by David Brin explains a more advanced (and more fragile) form of the Dyson sphere known as a Criswell Structure. This type of sphere utilizes fractal geometry to further maximize the light capturing inner surface as well as increase natural stability. Billions of these have been placed around slow burning red stars for extended periods of habitation by ancient life-forms awaiting transcendence to a higher form of life.
- The novel Polity Agent by Neal Asher He describes under 'The Cassius project' a Dyson sphere under construction.
- The short story Hold Until Relieved, by William H. Keith, Jr. Part of Keith Laumer's Bolo universe. Galactic core surrounded by Dyson shell.
- The novel "Federation World", by James White, partially set in a terraced Dyson sphere, which rotates to provide internal centrifugal force as a substitute for gravity. Since the terraces have different radii of rotation, alien species native to multiple gravity levels can be accommodated.
- In the novel Accelerando by Charles Stross, a Dyson swarm (possibly a Dyson bubble) of computronium forms a massive matrioshka brain around the sun providing virtual space for trillions of uploaded human minds and corporate AI.
- At the conclusion of the novel Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, the majority of the human survivors travel through a rift in slipspace to reach a habitat built by the ancient Forerunners that is separated from normal space and guarded by a massive latticework of automated drones. This habitat is actually a compressed Dyson Sphere, and is to serve as an effective bomb shelter from the activation of the Halo Array.
- The technology is alluded to in the short story The Last Question by Isaac Asimov.
- The novel Old Man's War by John Scalzi, an enemy alien race that is far more advanced than the Human civilization has a Dyson sphere around their sun powering a shield around their home world.
- The novels The Ring of Charon and The Shattered Sphere by Roger MacBride Allen feature a Dyson sphere and the space surrounding it.
- The novels The Book of the Long Sun saga by Gene Wolfe features a large population of people living in a massive Dyson Sphere like spaceship called the Whorl, with a long sun in the centre.
- The novel Debatable Space by Philip Palmer briefly mentions a Dyson Swarm of habitats around Sol known as the Dyson Jewels.
- In the fantasy series The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the world of Pryan resembles a Dyson sphere.
- The novel The Architects of Hyperspace by Thomas R. McDonough features an abandoned space station which is formed of concentric rings orbiting a star near the center of the universe.
- The novel Second Genesis by Donald Moffitt is largely set on one disc of a Dyson Swarm composed of massive orbital aligned discs whose shadows overlap to completely surround a star, to act as energy-collectors for an interstellar communicator.
- The novel The Berserker Throne and the related short story Some Events at the Templar Radiant by Fred Saberhagen. The fortress "Templar Radiant" is a stone sphere constructed around a starlike source of inverse gravity.
- The novel Hex by Allen Steele
- The novel Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
- The novel The Heart of Matter by Evan Currie features a Dyson Swarm as an enemy base of operation.
- The Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie: The home star of the Radch Empire exists in a Dyson sphere.
- The 1979 novel Argonautų laivas (Argo Navis) by Lithuanian author Kazys Paulauskas
- The novel The Long Utopia (4th in The Long Earth series) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter concerns the discovery of a race of robot beetles that are attempting to build a Dyson Sphere using the materials of a planet colonised by human settlers.
- The novel For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 by Dennis E. Taylor.
- The sci-fi webcomic Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler features an alien race known as the F'Sherl-Ganni, who live in habitats hanging from the interior surfaces of Dyson Bubbles they call Buuthandi (an abbreviation of the F'Sherl-Ganni phrase "Buut go buut-buut nnaa-nnaa cho handi", which translates to "This was expensive to build", or more literally as "Expensive and expensive-expensive [expletive] we built"). A buuthandi consists of a contiguous sphere of solar sail, with habitats hanging from the inside, the weight of the habitats balancing the radiation pressure.
- In the Marvel comic series New Mutants (original series) the rock star Lila Cheney, a mutant with the power to teleport across interstellar distances, had a home on an abandoned Dyson Sphere.
- In the Marvel Comics series Guardians of the Galaxy the Guardians teleport to a Dyson sphere.[volume & issue needed]
- In the Marvel Comics series New Avengers (volume 3 #4), Tony Stark hires Shi'ar engineers to build a Dyson sphere around Sun. The sphere is named Sol's Hammer by Reed Richards.[volume & issue needed]
- In the DC Comics series Red Lanterns #25, a galactic dictator named Gensui is building a weaponised Dyson Sphere in order to help him conquer the rest of Space Sector 2814 (where Earth is also located in).
- In Iron Man #13 (2013), Stark encounters an ancient, alien-made Dyson's sphere, deep in the far reaches of space.
- In the manga art book BLAME!: And So On by Tsutomu Nihei, it is revealed by the artist that the "city" the characters keep referring to and are currently wandering in is actually a Dyson Sphere extending to the orbit of Jupiter.
- In the manga series Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Jupiter, a human colony, was surrounded by incomplete sphere.
- In the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a futuristic robot mentions created a Dyson Sphere after humans are all dead.
- The PlayStation 2 game Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne by Atlus takes place in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo that's been ripped from the surface of the Earth and folded in upon itself around a nucleus called "Kagutsuchi" to form what is essentially a Dyson sphere.
- The PlayStation 2 game Code Age Commanders takes place in an "intraglobular world", a fictional hollow world similar to a Dyson sphere, with people living on its internal surface.
- The PC game Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity by Spectrum Holobyte features a Dyson sphere in its endgame, containing "The Unity Device" (the players goal).
- The PC game Freelancer by Microsoft Game Studios shows a Dyson Sphere (specifically, a Dyson shell) in the last system visited in the game campaign. It was constructed by either the highly advanced "Dom'Kavash" civilization, or their servant race the "Nomads".
- The PC game Homeworld by Relic Entertainment contains what appears to be a half-completed Dyson sphere in Mission 13, The Karos Graveyard. It later turns out to be the site of a massive ship battle, where the vessels were never salvaged. Homeworld 2 later revealed the large bits of wreckage viewed in the distance to be from a massive ship that broke apart many years ago.
- The epilogue of the PC game Mission Critical by Legend Entertainment. Humans created the artificial electronic life-forms (ELFs) and after decades of research they will both construct such a sphere; the humans will live inside and the ELFs outside.
- The PBeM Game Quadrant Delta
- In the Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe, The Outsider, a C'tan, is said to inhabit a Dyson sphere, having been trapped inside it by The Laughing God of the Eldar, Cegorach.
- In the AT-43 fictional universe, the Therians plan to enclose all stars inside Dyson spheres. The first released campaign, Operation Damocles, takes place on a mobile, solid Dyson sphere.
- The PC games Space Empires IV and Space Empires V by Malfador Machinations allows the construction and colonization of Dyson spheres (called "sphereworlds").
- The PC game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri by Firaxis Games refers to a Dyson Sphere in one of the game endings.
- The PC and Xbox 360 game Prey by Human Head Studios (after a short introductory level in a bar) takes place on a Dyson sphere (more specifically it is a Dyson Net constructed of organic and technological matter).
- The internet game Flash Trek 2: Broken Mirror contains a Dyson sphere in the system beyond the Bajoran wormhole
- In the PC game Chronomaster, the final pocket universe to be explored is encapsulated entirely by a Dyson sphere.
- The Xbox 360 strategy game Halo Wars set in the Halo series sees the latter half of its campaign take place on and inside a planetary sized Dyson Shell with a small artificial sun in the center. This so-called "Shield World" was meant to protect the Forerunners and their technology from the Flood, and the Forerunners or another life form from the Halo Array's firing. The entire inside of the shell is habitable and thus must have some sort of artificial gravity system to keep everything from floating off the surface. Also, in the Halo series, Shield Worlds are Micro-Dyson Spheres often protected by a planet-sized Dyson Swarm of sentries called Sentinels, whereas the Shield World itself will protect its inhabitors from the superweapon's firing, and the Sentinels will protect the Micro-Dyson Sphere from being destroyed by means of weapons or asteroids and such, as is the case with the Shield World called "Onyx" in the book by Eric Nylund "Halo: Ghosts of Onyx". Albeit the Micro-Dyson Sphere in question is said to be externally "only a few meters in diameter", while internally is approximately the size of Earth's orbit around our sun, with a small artificial star. In Halo 4, Master Chief, Cortana, and the UNSC ship Infinity encounter the Forerunner Shield World Requiem, which is a prison for a Forerunner war criminal known as the Didact. Part of the game takes place inside Requiem on the inner surface of the shell while another part takes place on the inside of yet another shell inside of the first one effectively creating a shell inside a shell the inner one of which can be seen by looking up in game.
- In the PC/Xbox 360/PS3 game Mass Effect 2, the geth character "Legion" (a sentient artificial intelligence) mentions the Dyson sphere as the closest analogue to the mega structure its species is currently working: since geth are networked programs (e.g. Legion is a "mobile platform" for over a thousand of them), such massive platform for the consciousnesses would ensure that "no geth would ever be alone", which is their idea of utopia.
- Said Dyson swarm is destroyed by the quarian forces during the events of Mass Effect 3, sending the geth into an equivalent of panic as countless programs are destroyed permanently.
- Additionally, antimatter fuel production plants built by organic races are Dyson swarms powering planet-bound particle accelerators.
- In the PC/Xbox One/PS4 game Mass Effect Andromeda, Meridian is described at a "Dyson Moon", a 3 600 km diameter, hollow shell encompassing a power source that provides heat and light to lush green biomes in the interior.
- In the Nintendo DS video game Infinite Space, the "Overlords"—a transcendent race responsible for the destruction and rebirth of universes—use a Dyson sphere attached to the Sun to power the "True Void Gate" with which they access and manipulate the current universe.
- The Facebook game Galaxy Legion features Dyson Spheres as one of the discoverable and colonizable types in the galaxy, although they are extremely rare.
- In the role-playing game Final Fantasy XIII, the floating utopia of Cocoon is a Dyson Shell. Cocoon surrounds an artificial sun, which is the fal'Cie Phoenix.
- In the PlayStation 3 video game Another Century's Episode: R, the planet "Area" where the main plot takes place resides in a Dyson sphere, though its name is not stated directly. This sphere has holographic panels on the inner surface to give the illusion of sky and sun, and to prevent what is inside the planet from reaching space.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal series, the antagonist V (Quinton in the English dub) uses a card called Number 9: Dyson Sphere (No.9 Sky Canopy Star – Dyson Sphere in Japanese), a card based on the fictional term.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, Dr. Eggman builds a new Death Egg over the Little Planet from Sonic CD. It is believed that Eggman is using the Little Planet's energy to power the Death Egg Mk II similar to a Dyson sphere.
- In the PC Game Star Trek Online one of the navigation areas is set in a Dyson Sphere located in the Delta Quadrant. The players access it through a Gateway located in the Beta Quadrant which takes them inside the sphere. Except for single-player missions in a story arc, the outside of the Dyson sphere is never accessible.
- The Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion Knights of the Eternal Throne introduces an artificial world called Iokath. It is a Dyson sphere constructed by an incredibly advanced ancient civilization, it completely engulfs its star, making both completely undetectable to the larger Star Wars galaxy.
- The PC game Stellaris initially included the presence of Dyson rings in certain systems. Since the DLC Utopia (6 April 2017) it has been possible for players to construct both Dyson rings and Dyson spheres.
- Dyson sphere is mentioned by Mark Laidlaw, former scriptwriter of Valve, on his personal blogpost regarding the plot of unreleased Half-Life 2: Episode Three as a form of fan fiction. The main protagonist was to see the "Brilliantly glittering Dyson Sphere" near the end of the game while traveling through time and space on an icebreaker, Hyperborea.
- BBV Pocket Universe audio episode "The Search" (set in the Doctor Who universe) features a Dyson Sphere encountered by robot dog K-9 and his Mistress.
- Russian techno group Complex Numbers features a Dyson Sphere in the composition Inevitability as last refuge of mankind.
- American death metal group Allegaeon wrote a song about Dyson spheres on their 2014 album Elements of the Infinite.
- Progressive Metal supergroup Alkaloid's 2015 debut album The Malkuth Grimoire features a fifteen-minute piece based on the concept of the Dyson sphere; the song is structured so that it loops in on itself, and contains various musically-encoded references to the geometry of circles throughout.
- The collaborative worldbuilding website Orion's Arm describes several fictional planetary systems that incorporate Dyson Swarms, which orbit the local star and collect energy to use for life support, industry and computation.
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- PWE_BranFlakes. "Star Trek Online: Season 8 - Enter The Sphere". sto.arcgames.com. Arc Games (Perfect World Entertainment). Retrieved 20 July 2014.
- "Dyson Swarm, Dyson Sphere". Orion's Arm - Encyclopedia Galactica.