This is from Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard, Chapter 20. A discussion between two main characters, Selena and Breadbox.
“You are saying that you and your crew traveled from your world to ours—a distance that it takes light about 4,000 of our years to travel—in a very short time?” I asked Breadbox.
“But of course we used the star jump. We didn’t actually travel all that distance.”
“Wait. I don’t understand this,” I interrupted. “How does this work? What does it mean to ‘jump’ between worlds? Our science tells us this is impossible.”
“I don’t know how it works. Novan was the engineer. He used the wand and the amulet.”
Here’s how I pieced it together. Now understand, this comes to you via a poet-storyteller to a songwriter-musician, with intercession from a talking metallic tube. So my apologies if you can’t grasp the science. The universe has two (or more?) kinds of space, overlaid. Regular space has all the laws and limits we are familiar with. The other space has different laws. Laws that allow messages, solid things, and even living beings to move from one place to another without passing through the intervening space. Space without distance. Perhaps without time.
It’s like on Earth. We can travel on foot only so fast and so far. But suppose there’s a telephone where I’m heading. I can just call ahead, seemingly instantaneous. “Telephone space” is completely different from travel-by-foot space. A telephone seems like magic to someone who has never encountered one before. But once you get used to it, you never again send messages by runner.
But initially there are no phones. So somebody first has to travel around on foot to install phones at different locations. They assign each one a number, record it in a directory along with its location, and thereafter you can reach that location merely by calling the number. Now, when you call a phone number, you may have no idea where that phone is located, and maybe you don’t care. You only want to connect with the person on the other end.
In a broad swath of our galaxy, probably millions of years ago, robot vessels chugged around between stars at sub-light speed, taking as long as it took, installing jump sites around stars with interesting planets, like a fleet of cosmic Johnny Appleseeds. Jumpsites were positioned at stable gravitational spots where they would stay put over eons in relation to the worlds they wanted to visit. Thereafter, vessels could get there by jumping through the other plane of space from one star to another—the one with no time or distance.
The big difference is, with this space jumpsite network, you could send not only messages, but also vessels and people and goods.
But in the intervening millions of years the “phone directory” of jumpsites had been lost. Not just the directory, but also knowledge of those who had created the network and its directory. And even the system of recording the data was lost! Later, when bits of it were found, people didn’t recognize it for what it was. Yet the jumpsites themselves still orbited their stars, awaiting a visitor.
Much more recently (tens of thousands of years?), the existing Confederation built up a new network of jumpsites as it expanded. Not as extensive as the prior network; old jumpsites at stars like our Sun lay completely outside the newer network. Also, it was based on a completely different system of communication.
I can’t quite grasp the distinction, but it sounds like the more recent Confederation used strings of numbers to identify jumpsites—the way we would do it—whereas the ancient prior civilization had used complex pieces of song. You can see how singing storytellers like the Fofonoloy would be the ones to rediscover them.