parsecs apart whereas Sol and Proxima Centauri are about 4.24 light years apart. Since one parsec is about 3.26 light years, this is a big difference. In the Serievan region, stars are just over 13 light years apart.
The thin interstellar medium has not been greatly enriched by earlier stellar generations. Local systems, including that of Serieve's sun, are poor in heavy metals. Hence, the extraction of minerals from ocean currents in the arctic waters around Pelogard.
Laure, who feels young and awkward, just as Falkayn had been conscious of still being only a journeyman, is annoyed when Vandage patronizingly lectures him about:
"'The interstellar medium from which stars form...'" (Flandry's Legacy, p. 720) -
- but, of course, what is really happening here is that the author is ensuring that his readers understand the cosmological context. It is not possible to tell Laure that.
Imagine living not in the northern hemisphere of Earth but near the northern verge of another spiral arm with only the galactic halo beyond; also working in an office high in a tower of Pelogard with automated extractor plants visible down at the waterfront; and knowing that, beyond the nearby Dragon's Head Nebula where human beings are barely beginning to explore, lies the unknown.