Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Far Out.

How far in the future to shove a future history?  My current thought on the matter is:
  • Far enough out to allow significant change in society 
  • Far enough out that, if we are going to preserve a technoloogical crisis, will have pushed past the current climate change crisis.
  • Far enough out that if colonies can be established on other worlds they can be of meaningful, but not overwhelming, population.
  • Close enough in time to permit some cultural continuity.  It is hard to conceive realistic human cultures from scratch.  Often, it seems to come out as standard American with a couple of bolt-ons -- the sociological equivalent of the Rubber Forehead Alien.  Allowing characters and society some grounding in 21st century roots shoudl provide something for readers to grip on to.
  • Close enough that there is lots and lots of unknown, and humanity still small enough on the galactic stage that it could be exterminated more or less by accident.
I am thinking 5-6 hundred years, across the valley of a terrestrial ecological die-off and in a universe that manages to have interstellar  polities and sill be essentially poor.

Rough time line:
  • 100 years - effective space transportation, orbital and lunar habitats, Earth in real crisis.
  • 200 years - Colonies exploiting Jovian and Saturnian moons.  Earth stabilized and beginning to re-terraform.  Lunar and cis-lunar space a single confederation but one with a lot of tension between components.  Map only barely recognizable.
  • 300 years - Stardrive invented.  Political relations stable in Sol system but stresses develop in the development of nearby usable worlds.
  • 4-500 years -  Cook until done.  Aliens discovered, but none with serious interplanetary capability.  Consider European experience in China and India.  
  • T minus 20-30 years.  - Game-changing technological change.  Impact of space transportation and colonization comparable to development of steam engines for historical transportation and industry.


  1. Hi Les

    I am I am curious by the whole tech side leading to star drive. I see it in three possible formats

    1)FTL Stardrive capabilities ie Star Trek or Classic Traveller
    2)multi-generational ships as per that great Cdn show from the 70s, Starlost
    3), or as a third option sleepers, such as the SS Botany Bay in Star Trek.

    As a player, FTL IMO is the way to go, unless you want to play the game strictly in-system and deny players the opportunity of developing multi-system trading and commercial empires or even a political framework of mother country (or planet) and colonies.

  2. One of the ways you can have a 21st century cultural continuity without too much trouble is by using slower-than-light spacecraft for the initial colonial push. Even better, this allows Earth's climate to essentially wipe out most everybody (or at least enough for cultural collapse) and then be re-developed by one or more of the original colonies. If FTL was developed on one of these colonies, one could have a wave of new colonies starting for that much farther out, and also have a wave of spacers whose culture is close to the present day reestablish government/society on Earth.

    The idea of STL travelers developing FTL isn't new...I don't think. I like the concept because it allows an explanation of why possible FTL is discovered at all. Suppose that, when traveling at a high fraction of "c", scientist on a STL colony ship observe a unique particle or phenomena that serves as the missing piece of the FTL puzzle?

  3. Larry Niven had that as an interesting theme in his Known Space future history. IIRC Weber has an interesting variation in his Honor Harrington future in which colony slowboats are sent out, but FTL is developed while most of them are still in transit. It works out OK for Manticore because the trustees of the colony corporation hire a couple of ships to protect the claim until the colonists get there.

    And a few FTL founded colonies would be a way to get the interface with aliens started; dozens of interstellar salesmen show up offering deals on used FTL ships.

    Maybe the ansible could be built, but the interstellar telemarketers are just to annoying.