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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Caliban Beachball  
  Dwelling place for unusual lifeform who make jumpdoors possible.  

A jumpdoor is an energy passageway that allows a person to move from one part of the galaxy to another instantly. If you're thinking that this takes star-sized energy, you're right.

The beachball was some six meters in diameter. It sat solidly on the [lava] shelf, about half a meter of its bottom surface hidden by a depression in the rock, as though it had melted out a resting place.

Knobs and indentations marked the opaque metallic surface.

From Whipping Star, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Galaxy Publishing in 1969
Additional resources -

How do you let the Caliban know you've come to call? "Find a 'nippled extrusion' and you knock on it."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Whipping Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Whipping Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

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