This history, and the set of stories that tell it, has been in my mind most of my life. It started when I was 14 years old and already quite the science fiction fan. I wrote a story that was more or less a blend between Edgar Rice Burroughs' swashbuckling Mars adventures and Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire novels.
I still have that old manuscript. It is really not good. But it was the start of something I never left behind. Developing its universe became a hobby in its own right, apart from any stories I might tell about it (though I always intended to write the stories someday). I used to call it "The History of the Galaxy" but it was really the story of how human beings from Earth inherited the Galaxy. Though I have notebooks on what came before, and others on the history that came afterward, the real core of it lies between the founding of Earth's offworld population and their eventual expansion out of the Solar System.
By now, the mass of notebooks (and more recently, files on my computer) I've written would probably fill an encyclopedia. Below is just a general outline.
The Origin of the Offworld Colonies
Terrans' first steps off their home planet took place in the twentieth century, but a true offworld population did not begin until the late twenty-first and early twenty-second. The major part of Earth's industrial base moved offworld in this period, responding to a convergence of three different factors: advancing technology had made it economical to exploit the engineering advantages of zero-G, declining mineral resources on Earth made offworld mining attractive, and a renewed public interest in environmental protection produced a push for polluting industries to relocate offworld.
As the industries moved offworld, populations to staff them followed, in hundreds of small "company town" space stations. Early on these stations were manned by crews on rotations from Earth, but over time a permanent population established itself. As a generation born in space grew up, a move began to consolidate the offworld population into safer and more stable lifesystems. A series of political scandals gave strength to the movement, establishing the need to normalize legal and political jurisdictions for the offworld population.
Through the middle of the twenty-second century, the Terran government undertook a massive offworld construction project, building giant Colonies to house the majority of the offworld population. Each Colony was sponsored by one of the Earth's continental directorates and, when completed, was given the status of a state within those continents. The largest mining colony, Copernicus on the Lunar surface, was also granted statehood.
The offworld population largely consolidated into the new Colonies, while those smaller stations that retained permanent populations became (legally) cities within the offworld states.
Designed to provide stable and self-sustaining lifesystems, the Colonies did so almost from the beginning. In the shape of cylinders rotating to provide gravity, reflected sunlight lit their interiors and provided electrical power through solar panels. Algae tanks recycled the atmosphere with the help of extensive hydroponic farms which also provided food, and even parklands for recreation. Imports of supplies from Earth were minimal.
Most of the population lived in apartments "below" the inner decks, while the interiors were devoted to the farms and parks. Above-deck housing districts, such as Star City's Midway shown at right, were highly expensive.
When completed, the project had constructed 23 Colonies for a total (with the inclusion of Copernicus) of twenty-four offworld states. But by the time of completion, events were already in motion that would change human history forever.
Independence— and Catastrophe
|2170-2190||The Sun becomes irregular, with apparently random fluctuations gradually building in intensity. This wreaks havoc on Earth's ecosystems, leading to disastrous weather patterns, crop failures and famines. The Colonies, with their artificial lifesystems, are relatively unaffected. Seeing the comparative prosperity of the Colonies, an undercurrent of resentment builds among the planetside population.|
|2182||In the elections of this year, a formerly fringe party called "Born to the Earth" gains political traction by blaming the Colonies for the famines on Earth. They argue that Earth's ecosystems would have absorbed the effect of the Sun's fluctuations if not for the loss of resources to support the Colonies. Scientists argue there is no merit to the claim, but suffering populations seize on the scapegoat and "Born to the Earth" elects Alexander Monroe as Terran president, also capturing a sizable number of seats in the Terran parliament.|
|January 2183||Monroe sworn in as Terran president. His first official act is to order all offworld settlements abandoned, and the offworld population to return to Earth.|
|2183||Charles Safreth, newly elected governor of Star City, commissions a study by Colony engineers to decide if the Colony can sustain its lifesystems without any supplies from Earth. This was the long-term plan when the Colonies were first built but it was expected to take time for their biological recycling to grow into it. When the report is favorable, Safreth calls a public referendum on rejecting the evacuation order and, instead, giving up support from Earth. The proposal passes with an overwhelming majority. The other Colonies follow with similar votes.|
|Aug 3, 2183||President Monroe rejects the Colonial votes and sets a deadline for evacuation of January 1. Over the remainder of the year, those Colonists who choose to do so leave the Colonies for Earth. Few make this choice. The Colonies implement their plans for continuing without Earth support.|
|Jan 1, 2184||The deadline set by the presidential order arrives without specific action by the Colonies. The Terran government cuts off supply shipments, but the Colonies' plans to do without them are in place.|
|May 3, 2184||Monroe orders Terran military forces in the Colonies to force the evacuation. Divided loyalties: most offworld military are, like the rest of the population, offworld natives. A day of confused disturbances ends with most military units placing themselves under the orders of their Colony governments.|
|May 16, 2184||The Star City legislature votes to declare independence from Earth. Over the next two weeks, all 23 other offworld "states" do the same.|
|June 23, 2184||
By popular referendum, the Colonies vote to unify, forming the United Offworld Colonies.
|August 2184||Catching the Colonies by surprise, a Terran fleet under the command of Admiral Richard Gali attacks and occupies several industrial platforms in low Earth orbit. The Colonies had not expected the Terran government to attempt military force. The provisional UOC congress hastily establishes the Colonial Navy (at first nothing more than a makeshift fleet of police cruisers and commandeered commercial ships) and appoints Warren Armstrong as its commander-in-chief.|
|2184-2189||The Independence War. Colonial forces successfully blockade any more ships launching from Earth, cutting off Gali's fleet from any reinforcement. However the Terrans, aided by a series of diversionary attacks from Earth, succeed in launching from their captured platforms and eventually manage to attack and occupy the three Colonies in Lunar orbit: Churchill, Orion and Promise. They establish a blockade of the Moon, cutting the Colonies off from mineral resources they need to continue without supplies from Earth.|
|Gali's plan is to force the Colonies to surrender by stopping their self-sufficiency plans. Over the next several years continual skirmishes try to break the blockades around the Earth and Moon but for all intents and purposes the stalemate continues. Meanwhile, the Colonies replace lost Lunar resources with mining of Earth-grazer asteroids and send the first expeditions to explore mining in the Asteroid Belt beyond Mars.|
|Feb 22, 2189||The last major battle of the Independence War as a Colonial fleet under the command of Admiral Armstrong attempts to retake the occupied Colonies in Lunar orbit. The result is inconclusive. No one can say how long the war would have continued in stalemate, if outside events had not intervened.|
|Feb 2, 2190||Solar observatories detect catastrophic changes in the Sun. Over a time of no more than a few seconds, all detectable emissions cease except for blackbody (thermal) radiation. As far as any instrument can detect, all fusion reactions within the Sun have abruptly ceased, and it still shines only because it is still hot— for the moment.|
|At first it's hoped this is just another fluctuation, more severe than any before but still only a transient event. As time passes, however, solar activity does not resume. The Sun's behavior is far outside any known theory of astrophysics, making it impossible to predict what might come next except that if nothing changes, over the coming months the Sun will begin to cool and darken.|
|2190-2191||Preparations for disaster. Losing all reason, the Terran government issues shrill calls for Gali to "punish" the Colonies for a disaster it insists is their doing. By this time the Earth has fallen into near-total anarchy. The "Born to the Earth" party never had any governing agenda except opposition to the Colonies. By now Earth is in chaos and, in response to this new emergency, the government collapses into complete disarray.|
|Rather than obey orders, Richard Gali on his own authority negotiates a cease-fire with the Colonies. He takes his fleet and returns to Earth and once there uses his military forces to carry out a coup against the Terran government. Seizing power, he imposes martial law to restore some degree of order on Earth. He pledges cooperation with the UOC and over the next year, Earth and the Colonies trade expertise: Terran engineers help the Colonies construct fusion reactors to replace the solar energy they previously depended on, while Colonial engineers help Earth design and build artificial lifesystems to sustain as many people as possible, while Earth begins a year-long descent into a final winter.|
|March 30, 2191||
The Catastrophe. As the Sun's interior cools, thermal pressure can no longer hold back the force of gravity on its outer layers. There is a sudden collapse, producing pressures that in turn trigger an explosion. The mechanism is similar to a nova, although the explosion is far smaller. In astronomical terms the event is trivial. On the human scale it is devastating.
Observers see the Sun's disk go black and visibly shrink, leaving a cloud described as red flame around it. A moment later it's obscured by a brilliant flash and then an expanding red globe.
|A wave of hard radiation heads outward from the Sun, with a shock wave of gas and plasma behind it. By chance, 8 of the orbital Colonies are protected by the shadow of either Earth or Moon when the wave hits, and Copernicus is in Lunar night. The rest are struck first by the radiation blast, which is strong enough to penetrate all their shielding. Surviving populations will suffer short-term radiation burns, and the long-term effects of radiation for years to come.|
|The gas/plasma shock wave thins out as it spreads. By the time it reaches the Earth-Moon system it is weak enough to be just barely survivable. Of the 15 exposed Colonies, three are destroyed with no survivors: Aurora, Orion and Promise. The remaining 12 take heavy damage but manage to survive with lifesystems functioning. Their orbits are shifted, and will take several years to reestablish. In the wake of the disaster, the 9 sheltered Colonies immediately send aid and contribute resources from their own lifesystems, though this compromises their own stability.|
|Since most of the Colonies survive, it's hoped in the early hours after the event that Earth has escaped without serious harm. It's soon clear this is not the case. The shock wave set up some kind of resonance effect in the atmosphere— the details remain debated by researchers— producing a secondary atmospheric shock that circles the planet multiple times, blasting down everything in its path. The emergency shelters constructed over the previous year are mostly destroyed, even on the night side of the planet. Only a few, constructed in underground caverns, survive. Of Earth's population, no more than a few thousand are saved in these underground shelters.|
|The exact count will never be known, but best estimates are that ten billion people die in the Catastrophe.|
|2191-2201||The Dark Years. The Sun is left permanently darkened; the Earth now receives about as much light and heat as a moon of Neptune would have in the pre-Catastrophe Solar System. The Earth is uninhabitable. The Colonies struggle to survive without solar energy, using hastily-built and often unreliable fusion generators instead. Populations are consolidated into dormitories to save lighting and heating for the vital algae tanks and hydroponic farms. Lingering effects of radiation poisoning continue to afflict the survivors. For ten years, the human race hangs on the edge of extinction. Birth rates drop to effectively zero.|
|Apr 13, 2200||Linda Ryder successfully creates the first hyperfield. She published her theory of hyperspace in her doctoral thesis in physics, during the war years. Her work recognized the possibility of an energy-generating technology. All through the Dark Years she and a team of colleagues desperately tried to make that possibility a reality. Finally, they succeed.|
|A hyperfield is a precise arrangement of electromagnetic fields that creates a connection to hyperspace. Once the connection is made, energy spontaneously flows from hyperspace into normal space, appearing in the form of blackbody radiation. Although it takes a large kick of energy to establish the connection, it requires very little to maintain it once open, and the flow of energy through the connection should, by Ryder's calculations, be enough to sustain the field with plenty left over for other tasks. (Though often called a perpetual motion machine, this is not correct. A hyperfield works like a water wheel dipped in a river, drawing energy from a natural process that would be ongoing whether anything tapped into it or not.)|
|Early 2201||Ryder's team creates the first self-sustaining hyperfield, using photoelectric panels to capture some of the energy output and using it to power the generator.|
|May 23, 2201||Linda Ryder and her team publicly demonstrate their invention for the first time, in Star City's Midway district. Although it will take several more years to implement on a large scale, this date is recognized by historians as the end of the Dark Years. Public enthusiasm is immediate. Hyperfields are exactly what the Colonies need. Though requiring extreme precision in manufacture, they are small and cost little in resources, and they operate without the pressures, radiation and other hazards of fusion generators.|
|Feb 2202||Nine months after Linda Ryder's first demonstration, a baby boom begins across the Colonies.|
|2200's||The hyperfield revolution. Thousands of hyperfield generators replace the light and heat of the lost Sun, and via photoelectric panels supply the Colonies' electrical grids as well. The technology advances, with new and more efficient generator designs. Theoretical models suggest the possibility of hyperfields that generate electrical potential directly, or kinetic energy to drive spacecraft without needing fuel for reaction thrusters, but experiments in these areas fail to produce immediate results, and cause a series of accidents.|
|August 2231||The worst such accident of this early hyperfield era occurs on board a Navl base called "The Alley," when a test of a new experimental hyperfield design has unforeseen mental effects on the crew. A chronicle of the incident can be found here.|
|The events on board the Alley cool enthusiasm for advanced hyperfield research, and over the next few decades researchers content themselves with incremental improvements in standard hyperfield systems. Eventually, however, the development of hyperfield technology regains its momentum, offering both promise for future technology, and concerns about what new risks hyperfield research may expose...|
But all this is only the beginning of the History. More will be revealed, as I write more of the stories that tell its key moments. To be continued...
Three invented languages exist in the History, with varying degrees of development. A fourth fictional language, Terran, is represented by English in all my notebooks and stories and hasn't had any work done on its "real" structures.
Sharuai is the most developed language in the History. There is little I can say about the people who speak it. They move behind the scenes of history, engaged in a struggle of which Terran historians know nothing, but on which all of History depends.
At left is a page written in Sharuai, the first page of an ancient document telling the History as the hidden people know it. Suffice to say it tells a very different story than the one shown above. In our alphabet, the passage shown reads:
Daresanna misharen seshel ta'lyeven hadhen ra'Sharu. A Sharu semennel a'Mi'vri no syshar nosharva nan ngauryn ra'Eiralynn imana ra'lyvri. Eta daryn sydar a'ri venryn ra'Sharu, nan lyfennyn alnares a fennyn sy'esel maten yqua sylanel. Sy nan misharen alna a wishres thana thelen ra'sy y sythel a syfehel a'Eiralynn, nan lythai y malen meros a se'esel arangen a'lyndaren lynnes. A venryn ra'Sharu sy'ngemel a'viren eithana. Tu syvithel lyn misharen ra'sy no sydesel thos mir ra'thai. A tu Sharu lyfennyn ra'lyeven u senamel.
I'm not going to translate that, even the first page would give away secrets that must remain hidden... for now.
A language spoken by an ancient, vanished civilization that will come into play in future books in my planned series. Only a small vocabulary exists, and a basic syntax to make simple phrases.
A Makentryn text fragment
Another language of a civilization distant from that of the United Colonies, Zoranthian has more development than Makentryn but is still only partially worked out.
Zoranthian writing (along with a separate line of Sharuai) can be found across the top of this page. Another sample, here, gives a famous quote from a historical figure of the Zoranthian culture:
Terran emerged as the common language of the UOC in the centuries following the Catastrophe, although its roots go back to the early "company town" days of offworld settlement. Offworld workers were drawn from every one of Earth's continents, and although then-modern English was the official language for space station operations (it had already been established as the international language for air traffic— and later space traffic— communications), the workers soon developed a common slang among themselves that drew words from all their various languages. This developed into the creole language that later became Terran.
When the Colonies were built, each used the language of its sponsor continent as its official language, but most offworlders knew Terran as well as whatever Earth language their Colony spoke. After the Catastrophe, with ties to the home planet gone, Terran gradually replaced the remaining Earth languages of the Colonies, while continuing to develop its own character.
Going back to its origin, Terran's primary source was English and around the time of the Independence War, an English speaker from present-day Earth (2013) would find it intelligible, though with a confusing number of borrowed words and a strange accent. A few centuries further on, it had developed into an entirely different language and would not be comprehensible to a present-day speaker of any Earth language.
Regardless of the era, Terran is represented by today's English in all my stories, and I haven't done any work on what it might "really" sound like.