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There have been a number of such works. Olaf Stapledon's Starmaker takes a somewhat poetic approach to the idea. And restraining oneself to an Einsteinian universe where nothing exceeds C was a hallmark of "hard-sci-fi" although even Arthur C. Clarke fudged and went for hyperspace when the plot was otherwise going to drag for a few millennia.

For a more recent take on the topic check out Karl Schroeder's Permanence [1] which is a damn fine read and doesn't run the hyperspace cheat and is all the more operatic for that.

1. http://amzn.to/1LYhwwm




Karl Schroeder's most recent novel Lockstep[1] is also somewhat related, just set within a smaller scale than most of the books mentioned so far.

[1]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17910135-lockstep




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