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(Mostly) American History 2460-2900AD (Part II)

by cskendrick Sat Apr 22nd, 2006 at 07:59:34 AM EST


See (Mostly) American History 2000-2460AD (Part I) first. :)

In the years discussed here, we see the transformation of Earth from the center of the Human attention span to a place that an increasing portion of Humanity wishes would just go away. There is a Canadian Civil War. There is a World War III. There is an invasion by Mars (but they're US allies at the time, so it's cool). An alliance between Russia and America to win World War III. An alliance that breaks up over religious extremism: the Russians buy into a new movemen, we don't and that's all she wrote. The Russians then become pals with the Brazilian Empire and attempt a tag-team genocide on the few remaining inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa (what sweeties). For some reason the now-leading Islamic powers of Southeast Asia object, call for backup from Muslim-friendly Callisto, and World War IV starts. The Martians, now the dominant player in the production, intervene before a 'solar war' flares up, and we end the story with the top three major powers of Humanity being the Martian Synthe, the Asteroid Combine and the Europan Union, and Earth falling into reaction and a new form of chauvinism as a result of this upturning of its accustomed primacy.

But read for yourself, what with that being what we do here, and all. :)

By the 2460s, America was no longer a cramped, crowded, distressed place; there were still congested megalopoli; the California coast, so-called "San Frandiego", at 65MM inhabitants remained one of the largest conurbations on Earth, or anywhere else for that matter. At 40MM the subterranean sprawl of the Great Delta, centered on New Orleans, the largest city in the United States, was the primary locus for earth-sea-space trade for the entire Western Hemisphere, now that Atlantis was no more. And far to the northeast, the 35MM-strong polyglot "Metropolis," where Mandarin was as often spoken as English, remained a powerful center of politics and culture, if not the financial hub of the Solar System (which had since passed on the Hong Kong). New York, of course, still insisted on its being the capital of the world.

2480s In a matter of a century, the American population fell over 100 million, as it had the century before, and by all simulations would do in the century to come. There were concerns that if this continued, either central North America would be depopulated, or soon come to be occupied exclusively by Canada and Mexico. This bothered many, but many more were enthralled with the new mission that the Americans had taken upon themselves: to follow their long-lost robot children and explore the stars themselves, find new homes for Humanity and where lacking, set into motion the making of worlds that, centuries later, would be ready for settlement. And that would come to be the lasting meaning of the American Ascendancy to future generations.

In 2500, 343 million people lived among the Pelagic (or undersea) nations, a significant decline from the high tide of 575 million in the early 2300s, a consequence of the double-whammy of Yellowstone and the Atlantis War. Another 74 million live in Antarctica, down from 113MM just before Yellowstone. As the South Pole has cooled, Mars and other worlds have warmed.

Mars, once passed by in the rush to the Galilean worlds and the Asteroids, now boasts 120 million inhabitants, not much less than the population Japan (128MM for the same year). The expectation is that the Martian population will surpass a billion sometime after the year 2800.

Another 79 million live on the Galilean moons. 59 million inhabit the Asteroid Belt. Other worlds range in population from 1.8MM (Pluto) to 22.74MM (Moon). In all, about 320 million people call a world other than Earth their home planet.

About one million are in transit to other star systems, almost all in the settler fleets to Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani, scheduled to arrived at the robot-prepared worlds waiting for them in about seventy years.

A million more have already made a new home, the residents of the planet Medusa, called Century by the locals, around the orange-yellow star Alpha Centauri B, a marginally-habitable world on its way to becoming fully hospitable to Earthborn life forms. That is, if the local carnivorous trees do not object too strenuously. They’re a bit of a problem, and they appear to demonstrate learning behavior. But nothing unmanageable has happened in the 140 years since the first colonists landed, so I’m sure everything’s cool.

26th Century

2500s Oops. In our previous discussions we neglected to mentioned the advent of something rather special -- the ability to leapfrog past nanonics and go directly to direct field induction as a means of not only transmuting matter from one form to another, not only translating modes of energy from one form to another, not only swapping out between matter and energy (albeit at considerable wastage; sorry. No perfect conversion), but also fashioning new forms of matter and energy out of the composition of spacetime itself. It is this series of innovations -- very challenging and very slow to mature as a mode of technological and economy activity -- that made interstellar exploration (and settlement possible).

Without field construction, starships of sufficient size to transport people were limited to about 40% lightspeed, and for large settler ships, the efficiency was much degraded. With the ability to obtain reaction mass from space itself, to temporarily 'freeze' virtual resonances', accelerate them to near-light speed, much higher velocities were possible -- in practice, the limit remained 71% lightspeed (ships started gaining relativistic mass AND subjective time slowed down, both of which impaired the efficiency of the new 'star drives'). This was good enough for government work, though. There was another aspect of the tech: Despite the practical speed limit, there was no size limit to the ships themselves, which made the creation of huge colony craft practical, certainly more cost-effective than building hundreds of smaller ones.

2520s On Earth, on other worlds and between them, yet another threshold was reached: the development of Interspace, a nearly instantaneous form of virtual reality that made not only interplanetary but interstellar commerce (and micrommerce) possible and profitable. It was Internet taken to the next level; virtual tourism of other worlds, use of Waldos (rental androids and gyndroids) to 'be there' on other planets, or operate machinery, participate in conferences, gatherings, social events all supported by broadband photon entanglement. The system worked best between worlds where photon-entangled nodes had been swapped the old-fashioned way -- carting them out on starships, or fast-flinging them at near-lightspeed like the old Surveyors of the Celestial Survey, and kept up a steady stream of refresher qubits, to maintain and upgrade connectivity.

In this fashion, for the first time, residents of Earth viscerally connected to their cousins elsewhere, and felt immediacy about events in the wider universe. America was the pioneer in this field, again due to centuries of particular advantage in computer and network systems, quantum simulations, and virtual reality. The Russians would assume parity in the 2540s, then the Australians in the 2550s. The ultimate champion, due to centuries of leadership in interstellar communications and its prior role as the headquarters of the Celestial Survey, would be Puerto Rico. Arecibo in this time was a city of two million and home to almost half of the island's population, its core economic activity being the processing, launching, monitoring and maintenance of the infrastructure that literally wove the stars together.

2540s Canadian Civil War While things were going well for the United States, this was not quite the case to the north, and this generated considerable difficulties. Just as the United States had experienced a combined of high immigration and eventually had to deal painfully with population issues that it had push offed for decades, to a slower extent the same befell Canada, only much later on. When the population controls had been imposed on Americans  in the mid-23rd century, many dissidents fled to Canada, which was more than happy to take on new residents. At the time, Canada had significant population (130 million in 2240) and room for more. Far more. Much of Canada's rise as a great power was attributable to the development of environmental technologies related to space settlement; innovations that made Mars habitable made Canada, even Labrador and the Yukon, comfortable.

The Yellowstone Explosion (see last episode) caused significant loss of life in Canada, as well (7MM), but by 2500, Canada at 495MM had more inhabitants than the United States (451MM). By then, the Canadians had recognized that unless the emergent Ice Age was averted entirely, they were most certainly going to have to do something about their own overpopulation. Long since, the legendary civility of Canadian culture had dissipated; by 2540, three generations had been born knowing nothing of the sort. Then something that had been joked about for half a thousand years finally happened: Canada broke apart into fragments, then factions, and for the first time in Canadian history, there was civil war in the Great White North. More on that later.

In 2568, the starship Oregon, one of the only three old-style helion carriers to go anywhere other than Alpha Century, arrived with 125,000 coldsleep passengers to the Epsilon Eridani star system. A somewhat Martian-like world waited for them, prepared for over a century by the precursor fleet of terrabots. Regardless, there was still much work to be done, and it would be quite some time before the planet was fully supportive of Earthborn life.  Regardless, the planet Marinera would come to be among the mightiest of the Three Hundred Worlds, and after the final cataclysm that wrecked the Solar System, would be a pillar of the first truly unified Human civilization. But that's still a thousand years in future.

Three years later, in 2571, the other two helion starships, the Chisholm and the Santa Fe, arrived at Tau Ceti, to find a largely aquatic world, somewhat warmer than Earth but with the full variety of climates (no 'it was raining on Mongo that day' fallacies, please). The tropical band was vast, complete with monsoons and an abundance of large, teardrop shaped islands, the product of active vulcanism combined with little limited plate tectonics. It was easy to name the world: Serendip, both for the serendity of finding such a pleasant, immediately suitable world (one of a mere 27 inside of 100 light-years of Earth) and for the generic appearance of many islands to Sri Lanka on Earth.

In both cases (as the trail names might suggest), Americans played a prominent role. Many of the settlers were American expatriates, part of the concession that the manufacturers of starships had in return for building the craft: the American government paid subsidies to sponsor trusts, as population reduction was a core policy. The now-obvious and seemingly inevitable shift of the climate to deep freeze proceeded apace; nothing could be done but stem the tide. Emigration seemed like a better plan than attempting to annex territory to the south, which invited war with Brazil. Likewise, Brazil had no interest in taking over what was eventually (though not yet, not nearly) going to be one vast glacier. The two enemies simply ignored one another as best as possible.

2580s Well, ignored is perhaps not quite the word, as the Brazilians were actively involved in the civil war, fueling the appetite of some Canadians for the sort of unity and order that an Orchestration-style regime could provide them. The Americans took the opposite position, and in this fashion the two superpowers fought a protracted proxy war, with the Canadians being both the perpetrators and victims.

27th Century

2600s Being the far stronger power at the time, the Brazilians initially prevailed, and for the first time in quite some time, the Americans were forced to fortify their northern frontier, fearful of invasion from the Cyberne legions that Brazil sent to 'protect and support' the harmony-loving peoples of Restored Canada. It was order that came at a terrible price: Fully 15MM people died in the war preceding the Brazilian intervention. The Restoration regime would kill 40MM, as Canadians chafed under life as a client state of the Emerald Empire, and made their collective displeasure known.

2620s Ultimately, all the Americans could do, by themselves, was contain the damage, and lend what aid it could to the rebels that would not provoke the Brazilians, for the Empress Mercada (still going, though not fully human anymore by any definition) had proven herself willing to incur heavy losses just to eliminate enemies for keeps, having supreme confidence in her personal longevity (she was going on 650 years old as of this conflict) to outlive the consequences of any holocaust. The Americans began to cast about for additional allies in the cause, finding one in the company of their ancient rivals, the Russians.

Now, Russia of the year 2620 was strategically on almost perfect even par with the United States, in almost every category. The Americans had a slight edge in every metric but natural resources (this despite the  post-Yellowstone degradation in climate already being experienced), but with the US population in decline there was not much doubt about who would soon be taking the Americans' place as the chief opposition to the Emerald Empress. Separately, the two countries could not withstand Brazil and its many provinces in Africa and Latin America. Together, however, that was a different story.

And thus began what some felt was long-overdue (or long-uncounted): World War III, lasting from 2621-2624. There was no total victory, such goals being both unimportant and imprudent in the situation. On one side was most of Latin American and Africa under Brazilian control, on the other Russia, most of Europe, the United States, the Medina Alliance (a federation of Islamic states). China and India sat this one out; neither the Brazilians nor the Russo-Americans wanted to provoke them either way. In the end, a newer, more powerful counter to the Empire was set up -- the Northern Alliance -- formed from Russia, Canada, the United States and the northern tier of European states that had avoided Brazil's compensation for losing Canada -- the capture of Iberia and France and Italy, and the obliteration of Rome, a gratuitous vengeance for the Catholic-inspired Indigo Rebellion from several centuries earlier, though no one other than Mercada was alive at the time. And yet this was but a pittance compared to the final disaster.

2640s The Northern Alliance, formed after World War III, was composed of the three most technology advanced societies in all the worlds. While greatly assisted (sic) by slaughter, Canada's population concerns were brought under control, much of it by redistribution to America and Russia, as well as offworld. (Brazil, though, was just barely behind, though distribution of income there was grossly uneven). Between the generous reconstruction and population decline, Canada's per capita income was once again the highest anywhere, with its allies profiting from the closer relationship, as well.  All told, in 2640 13 out of the 20 richest countries (or worlds) were on Earth.

Farther afield the stars continued to be settled. In 2645, the Omicron Eridani star system opened for business, with another standard 125,000-strong load of colonists, this time onboard one of the newer FAI (field augmented inertia) drive starships, capable of 71% lightspeed propulsion...still a long drive to work, but the practical range for colonization hops went from 10 to 21 light-years, greatly increasingly the available 'talent pool' of well-mapped star systems, thanks to the now-legendary Celestial Survey, which had pre-planned the course of interstellar colonization to the end of the Third Millennium and beyond. Omicron, as the dominant planet came to be called (Very imaginative, yeah, I know. Thanks.), would in time be one of the virtual triumvirate of systems known as the Eridani worlds, that would dominate language, politics, economics and culture after the establishment of the Terremagne...yet again, we get ahead of ourselves.

2660s While the change in strategic relations on Earth was important, it had been a long time since Earth was the be-all and end-all of geopolitics, a thoroughly obsolete term if there ever was one. In 2500, Mars was the only Top 10 power that was non-Terran, and then only technically, for Mars was partitioned into a mix of factions and clades and offworld possession of various Terran participations, corporations and orchestrations. Still, what happened on Earth increasingly began to matter to Mars as a collective interest, and vice-versa. It was a question not if but when Mars would start to think and act in the interests of Martians.

That day was June 6, 2666 when the Martian Synthesis was announced, also called the Martian Declaration of Independence. Following Mars' very effective invasion of New Guinea (in which Mars really did invade the Earth...albeit at the invite of some of the latter's inhabitants), the Martians were feeling owed something other than being a receiving station for Earth's cast-offs. They wanted recognition as a great power in good standing. And felt they had the game to back up their demands. By 2660 that was very much the case; Mars united was a true peer competitor to Brazil, and one-on-one more than a match for the United States or its chief allies. The Northern Alliance could punish Mars, but not conquer the Red Planet, and the NA had real problems closer to home. As many Martians claimed Atlantean ancestry, Brazil was neither welcome to comment on or, after Martian independence, to participate in any way in the affairs of Mars, setting up a lasting and often-deadly enmity.

The chief vehicle of Martian power was its space fleet, and the expertise mixing orbital, even interplanetary bombardment with the use of space marines. The Martian military, all branches, came to be known as the Mariners, formed either into fleets or multi-function groups called warsythes (a variation on the Martian worth synthe, with broader usage for any sort of assocation, though with a political context).

In 2681, Sigma Draconis (Hecate) was settled. In 2694, Delta Pavonis (Persephone) would join them. Hecate presented a daunting challenge, on account the surface gravity was 1.74 times Earth-normal, at the extreme limits of human tolerance, and even then only with significant technological intervention. Hecate would in time become a combination processor of materials not found in the crust of lighter-gee terrestrial worlds, training ground for the military, and final residence for many of the Three Hundred Worlds' undesirables...sometimes criminals, sometimes political prisoners, sometimes just people who did not fit in, and those in power refused to abide, or allow to wander to greener pastures. Persephone would in time be one of the most powerful worlds across Humanity, settled in the most part by Indians, who colonized heavily in the Pavonis region, which would carry on their culture, long after Earth became a desolate backwater. D'oh. Keep tipping the cards.

28th Century

2700s The dawn of the 28th century witnessed a rather interesting event: For the first time in Human history, the dominant power was off-world. Mars surpassed Brazil, leastwise sans its many de facto conquests, as the most powerful Human nation. Following were Russia, the US, Canada and the Asteroids, which would in time be the great power, once they united and acted as such. The American population was now 292MM, the lowest in had been since the year 2000. Elsewhere: The settlement of Eta Cassiopeiae (Borealis) in 2697 was significant, for Eta Cass, as the system was also known (for the star-nation that spread out from it was likewise called Borealis), would become in effect an America among the stars. Up to this point, regardless of the prevalence of ethnicity, religion, race, nationality, partisanship or cultural template, almost immediately the world in question developed a life and character of its own.

This was likewise the case for Borealis, save that the choices were largely harmonious with that of the parent country. The chief reasons were that in range of climate and natural endowments, Borealis was quite comparable to North America of the early 28th century (which is to say, about like the United States is right now -- a little of everything) and it was the first colony founded that had brought along its own Interspace nodes. Previously, settlements had enjoyed some time apart from Mother Earth. That was no longer the case. For the subsequent period of colonization, worlds remained closely aligned with their source lands and peoples and totems of heritage for longer, and the development of distinction more gradual. It happened regardless, but going forward Earth would be increasingly concerned -- and intrusive -- in the affairs of the worlds of the Slow Range, for its reach was now immediate, via avatars and android operatives, assembled by secure faber nodes on site.

2720s 82 Eridani (Solon), the eponymous Eridani system, and Beta Hydri (Hwang He) were settled in 2710 and 2712, respectively. Xi Bootis (Proteus) was founded in 2720. Hwange He was the first major initiative by the Han Federation, which had been very involved in the terraformation of Venus, which we've been ignoring so far and perhaps should chat up for a bit. There were Han installations in the Aphrodite Highlands as early as 2120, and significant populations (1MM by 2240, 5MM by 2400, 10MM by 2480) during the first half of the Third Millennium. While impressive in light of there being no one at all on Venus in the year 2100, growth was directed elsewhere, despite the immense expense that the Han dedicated to their promised 'New Kingdom'.

However, it was not until 2690 that numbers truly began to expand, as the hedges of Hu 'trees'(thermosynthetic, self-replicating lattice structures that adapted to maximize heat absorption, with built-in safety buffers that, alas, we too insensitive to stop from absorbing too much heat on Earth after the Yellowstone Explosion obviated the need for cooling the Earth). By 2760, Venus had 109MM inhabitants, with the highland regions boasting hot, dry climates and nano and FAI-synthesized water churned out from the still-thick atmosphere by the gigaton, to fall in vast cascades into the steamy, sulfuric, carbon dioxide-smothered lowlands.

Airships and ballistic pods kept the various Terrae (or Shan, as they were now called) in material contact, while same as most everywhere in the Human cosmos, Interspace served to keep the people connected. Most employment, by definition, related to the transformation of Venus itself, or the introduction of infrastructure, or the conversion of top-shelf remote monitoring and control systems for commercial use (the Han were superlative in the field, and Interspace made Venusian expertise a valuable commodity overnight).  The chief export of Venus was energy, which it was discovered could be translocated via quantum nodes as swiftly as images, albeit with limited efficiency. In this fashion Venus, for its own good, became what was known as a Brin laser (after the scientist who came up with the concept), converting heat into laser photons which were then funnelled through a quantum translocation to receivers elsewhere.

Planets and large installations, even the larger helion cruisers that were still in near-Solar use, had their own power surpluses, but small craft and warships, or special high-energy consumers like singularity manufacturers were happy to get all the juice that Venus could beam them. And every erg that left Venus, left Venus a cooler, cheerier place. As for how to generate the current in the first place? Funny you should ask: The Hu hedges created sheets of relatively supercold air in their immediate vicinity; broad zones of turbulence were generated on a world that had not known weather, per se, in over a billion years.

The results were both chaotic and profitable...because all that wind, backed up by what at low elevations was still a 30-bar atmosphere, was pushing a lot of wind turbines that, like the Hu trees themselves, were self replicating.

2740s Somewhat later, Zeta Tucanae founded in 2744. Past this point, the pace of settlement exploded, and the opening of any one world no longer captured Humanity's imagination. By the year 2800, there were 25 settled star systems (though the 'Lost' colony at Kappa Ceti was unknown to most of Humanity for many years).

Such `Darkover Legends' (after an even more ancient tale of a civilization descending from crashed Human starship) captured the imaginations of the worlds, tales of small ships, even solo explorers, becoming stranded for years, even decades, on barely-suitable worlds, even going on to form cultures with little or no contact with the rest of Humanity. In most situations, some qubit-based contact was maintained, save where the Interspace conduit was destroyed on landing or sabotaged, as was the case at Kappa Ceti. There are nine worlds settled by groups of less than 10,000, all by mischance, most by ship's complements of less than 1,000. A few were true castaways. One such story we'll be relating in a few decades, but first we must take a dive in the oceans of Earth...the sacred oceans, according to adherents of the first new major religion in almost a thousand years.

2760s There were many varieties of Pelagics, the nations of the sea. One faction, the Atlanteans, was derived from nations of the North Atlantic littoral. That group was scattered, its home waters destroyed in the war with Brazil. The most influential grouping, however, was along the fringes of the Indian Ocean, derived from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Burma, India, east Africa and the Arabian states, with some minor contributions from Australia.

This was the first and largest, the group whose name is now synonymous with the Pelagic religion, which was slow in materializing, but in the mid 2700s burst forth with crusading zeal, splashing, as it were, across Earth.  The moral message was not at especial variance with most competing creeds, such as they existed to that point, save in one key essential: The Sea was God's Presence on Earth. Well, water in all its forms, everywhere and anyway, as a concession to land-dwellers and persons in space. And the Pelagics decided that perhaps they ought to be telling people the obvious: that as longstanding denizens of the deep blue sea, that it would both righteous and proper that they spread the word, and insist on proper respect accorded to both their values and kindly stop pouring that crap into the ocean, thanks. It was quite the environmentalist creed. The Russians, who had a mystic streak a mile wide and had been somewhat unhappy without a belief system to be miserable not living up to, embraced what came to be called Pelagism with a flourish, being by negative self-inflicted reinforcement staunch environmentalists on their own account.

By 2780, the Russians surpassed Brazil, one on one, as the top Terran nation, much of this on the backs of renewed enthusiasm -- and finishing off a protracted religious-minded civil war to restore the Czarate and declare the Russian Sacristium, as the theocracies of the new religion were called. Elsewhere, the Asteroids and Europa move ahead of Canada, the United States and China (in that order). Mars remains the top dog, somewhat amused and concerned about the renaissance in religious warfare on Earth, concerned as well that Pelagic converts are cropping up all of the Solar System, and wondering what to do about it.

29th Century

2800s Mars and the Asteroids, in formal alliance, are the dominant entente in Solar politics. Differences of opinion arise between Russia and its chief allies in North America, largely over the Russians' embrace of the new Pelagic religion, to the point of becoming its chief proponents. This effectively ends the alliance, freeing up Russia to pursue a detente with Brazil. North America links up with the Martian-led alliance, as do the Antarcticans. The rest of Earth is gradually split between the Restored Empire of Russia, with strong expansionist designs in Europe and the Middle East, and Brazil, which happily cedes sphere of influence there in return for friendship with the Russians and assistance pushing its seven century-long feud with the Muslims in Africa to a final conclusion.

2820s An especially infamous world was found at Delta Eridani (Ozymandias), not a nice place; it's a world that is marginally habitable, despite the phenomenon of chlorine storms (the atmosphere goes from having noisome traces of the gas to sufficient (but minor) partial pressures of the gas to blister lungs or kill horribly. The world has in time been modified to prevent the searing fumes from accumulating in concentrations deadly to the now thoroughly-resistant Earthforms present on the surface, a case of two-way transformation meeting in the middle. In the 2800s, this was not so, making Oz, as the world was also known (in honor of an ancient saga about prison life), became a perfect dumping ground. Most died swiftly and terribly, which was the point.

Fear of a one-way trip to Oz was a powerful disincentive to bad behavior among the increasingly-coordinated Orchestration regimes of Earth, sufficiently frightening to be worth the practice, as was the monitoring and broadcasting back home of such terminations. Since Oxymandias was on the way to more productive ventures farther out in the Slow Range, dropping off convicts was simple. Later on, as the means to persist for longer periods on Oz developed, the planet became a Brazilian research station --- research specializing in the modification of humans, not only genetically, cybernetically and mnemonically (that was old school) but use of quantum interfacing to test out the direct projection of control across interstellar distances, to the point that a form of possession, even against non-wired persons, was tested.

In the very earliest days, though, a Xinghu general named Caliban (Brazilians have a fondness for distinctive names) had the mixed pleasure of being the first exile to last more than a few days unaided on the planet. The chief reason: He had been stationed there, had disapproved of the researches, balked at one order too many (one was usually enough, but as a favored he got two shots), and was dumped on the far side of the planet. He would survive solo for another fourteen years, using his knowledge of nanonics and nanonics from his own bloodstream to assemble in time the means to build air filters for himself and program the ground itself to assemble an automaton, a clay and stone golem as it were, that he very imaginatively named Domingo (hah! You thought I was going to say Friday.)

2840s One of the impacts of World War III, <b&gt;the New Cold War</b>, and last but not least the resurrection of holy warfare, albeit of a proxy, civil insurgency sort, was the breakdown in the systems and norms that had supported micrommerce. Never fully off the table, the fallback of trade -- commerce as it had been understood during the Second Millennium and long before --- enjoyed a restoration. Growth in GDP, in PCQ (Per capita quality of Life), technology and literacy stagnated on Earth; in the United States, the effects began to be seriously felt in the 2850's when first Venus then Titan surpassed the United States in GDP (circa $606.5 trillion in 2850).

That same year, more people lived on Venus (225MM) than in the USA (215MM), and more people lived on Mars (970MM) than in any one country on Earth (Brazil being closest, with 601MM). Technology, the United States and Canada remained the leading producers of new applied sciences, a status now carried by the Americans' unparalleled investment in interstellar exploration and basic research derived from same; while field construction ostensibly could produce anything, the things that humans came up with on their own were not always long-lived --- or safe to keep around the house.

And that was where basic empirical research of the cosmos came in: to give pointers on what sorts of things to try at home with the cornucopia machines, and what new, imaginative particles or variations on the properties of spacetime were really, really bad ideas. The Russians, however, were on a theological warpath, and running amok, thanks to their non-aggression pact with Brazil, with the Islamic countries being the chief victims. There was about to be trouble for that, though, for while Muslims on Earth were sandiwiched between the two most dreadful enemies the faith had ever seen, compassion and mercy and most of all some payback were about to be delivered, and in spades.

2860s There were few worlds in the Solar System that lacked signficant Muslim minorities; the Galilean world of Callisto, in fact, had a plurality, mostly from South Asia, though many hailed from Europe, North Africa and North Africa, as well. Callisto was known Range-wide as a hectic, disorganized but peaceful society, 'a pacifist anarchist's wet dream', one wit decreed. Alas, that was just not quite so, for while the Callistans had superlative means of resolving disputes peacefully, they also possessed a formidable space navy, and a military that in aggregate was superior to that of the Han Federation. And genocide on grounds of religion really disappointed them.

So, Callisto sent a fleet to aid Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia, who had been fighting a battle in nearly-depopulated Pakistan (down to 16MM inhabitants) and unable to convince isolationist India (burned one time too many by wars with fanatics, and itself a nearly empty land at 96MM remaining residents) to participate. It was enough to buy time to arrange a cease-fire, and to do serious damage to the Sacristan 'waves', as the Russian brigades called themselves. It was then a matter of taking stock of what had been saved: relative emptiness.

Following the Population Surge had been the long, long fallback in population all across the Eastern Hemisphere, especially in ecologically played-out regions. In 2860, China at 142MM had far fewer people than Venus (263MM), though that was largely on purpose. Indochina was relatively well-settled and therefore relatively powerful. The Indian subcontinent was a demographic shadow of its former self, save for Bangladesh, which had expanded (with India's blessing, and for very reasonable rates) to occupy all of both Assam and Bengal. India might have ceded territory to Pakistan, if there had been any interest; what remained of the Pak was as insular and disinterested in the eerie Earth outside its borders as the Bharati.

Even hypercrowded Philippines was no more the source of endless cheap labor for Asia and beyond; at 12MM people, the archipelago had trouble maintaining its own labor needs, and was actually importing people from Mainland Asia and Australia to help out. Thailand, too, was in decline, though its neighbors Burma, Malaysia and Cambodia remained vital and expansionist, the Thais, though had been victims of a long-ago war, back when Cambodia had designs on challenging China for primacy of eastern Asia. The Callistan fleet could not attack Brazil or Russia directly, but did the next best thing: attacking staging areas for Sacristan waves and Brazilian Cyberne will extreme prejudice, revealing for the first time the existence of gravitational lens (or lensor) weapons that had magnitudes more power than conventional lasers, and were efficacious through shaped space defensive fields when strong enough to overcome the defenders' power supply.

2880s Elsewhere in the Islamic world, it was much the same. Iran: 9MM people. Sudan 5MM. Egypt 6MM. Afghanistan 3MM Iraq 3MM. Morocco 3MM Algeria 2MM Lebanon 2MM. Syria 2MM Saudi Arabia 1.7MM Yemen 1.5MM West Bank: 1MM Israel: 400 thousand. Jordan 354 thousand Oman 217 thousand.

Turkey retained 17MM, and Kazakhstan 19MM, and outside of Asia were the largest Islamic states outside of South/Southeast Asia, and had been the main targets of the twin Russo-Brazilian squeeze. However, lesser targets had been abundant, and the twin Terran superpowers had not shirked from sowing a crop of destruction. It is estimated that perhaps half the original populations of all the countres listed above were killed, save for an estimated 15-20% casualties in Turkey and Kazakhstan, where resistance had been effective, were liquidated by the genocide. The more powerful, advanced Islamic powers of the Far East had managed to come off relatively easy.

The Callistans targeted enemy armies and installations in all those countries and continued a nonstop bombardment for three days on, one day off, for three months. Attempts by either the Brazilians or the Russians to take pressure off by direct strategic attack on Callisto itself were warned off by the Martians, who indicated that they would not tolerate escalation of the conflict to 'solar war', sending four full Mariner fleets into a blockade sphere around the Earth, just outside Lunar orbit.

The Brazilians eventually figured out how to propagate FAI-based space mines in near Earth space, making continuation of the bombardment too costly for the Callistans, but by then their work was done; Bangladeshi, Malaysian and Indonesian units assumed protective positions throughout the remains of the Islamic West and Middle, and Martian peacekeeper fleets cleared near-Earth space and assumed long-lasting positions in close orbit.

On the other side, the Martians demanded the exile of the Callistan fleet, for the affront of getting involved in Earth's muddy, bloody misadventures; the ships were sent to Century, in the Alpha Centauri system, along with a large colony fleet of refugees from the Muslim Genocide, as the dark time leading up to the Callisto War (or World War IV, to some) was called. Earth was served notice not to bring its troubles farther afield. A clear changing of the guard had come at last from this.

By 2900, the world is pretty much in the hands of other worlds, at least for the time being. Mars, the Asteroids and Europa are the three dominant powers, in that order, the Russia and Brazil, who are managing to have their way regardless by encouraging undesirables to vacate for greener pastures, and co-opting the remainder. There are plenty of holdouts for the time being -- North America, Southeast Asia, Antarctica for starters, but by this time, most of the Old World and South America is firmly in the hands of what is coming to be known as the Concert, or the Imperial Concert, the alliance of Orchestration regimes, with the Russo-Pelagic Sacristiums thrown in for good measure. Brazil recognizes that without a strong space fleet, it will always be at a serious disadvantage to Mars or any other outworld that chooses to press its space boots on Earth's neck. This is the onset of a new mode of xenophobia and reaction, and the birth of Terran nationalism out of ugly motives, a response to not entirely-just actions by Callisto and Mars and others, but ugly all the same, and condemned in the end for what this new incarnation of globalism destroyed. But that's about seven centuries in future. Sorry. Gonna have to wait some more. :)

The magic takes it toll.

But listen closely, but not much longer.

I've got to keep control.

I REMEMBER...Doing the TIME Warp...

(Let's do the Time Warp again...) :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sat Apr 22nd, 2006 at 10:27:23 AM EST
Without field construction, starships of sufficient size to transport people were limited to about 40% lightspeed, and for large settler ships, the efficiency was much degraded.

A starship with a constant-acceleration photon drive burning antimatter fuel with captured matter at 100% efficiency has a mass of m(t) = m0*e^(-a*t/(2c)). Assuming acceleration to, and deceleration from, around v=0.4c (Lorentz factor only 1.091, so we can safely ignore SpecRel in crude approximation), the mass upon arrival will be ma=m0*e^(-2*0.4/2) ~ m0*2/3. So at least a third of the ship's mass upon launch must be antimatter. Assuming a 1,666-ton ship, that's 10^23 J of energy to expend in 100% efficient antimatter factories.  If one ship's full of fuel is produced every three years, the factories must run at a constant power of 10^15W=1000TW. That would be just inside the realm of possible, say with a million-kilometre-diameter solar cell array of 100% efficiency orbiting the Sun at Earth's distance...

With the ability to obtain reaction mass from space itself, to temporarily 'freeze' virtual resonances', accelerate them to near-light speed, much higher velocities were possible -- in practice, the limit remained 71% lightspeed (ships started gaining relativistic mass AND subjective time slowed down, both of which impaired the efficiency of the new 'star drives').

Unless those 'virtual resonances' are bound to ambient matter, I don't see how there could be any propulsion-related speed limits. Relativistic mass and the slow-down of subjective time are both relativistic, i.e. as seen from an Earth-fixed reference frame; sitting on the ship, neither mass nor your own time seems to change.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 08:07:14 AM EST
2880s Elsewhere in the Islamic world, it was much the same. Iran: 9MM people. Sudan 5MM. Egypt 6MM. Afghanistan 3MM Iraq 3MM. Morocco 3MM Algeria 2MM Lebanon 2MM. Syria 2MM Saudi Arabia 1.7MM Yemen 1.5MM West Bank: 1MM Israel: 400 thousand. Jordan 354 thousand Oman 217 thousand.

Countries really have a longevity in your future :-)

Why did China and India decline in your future, even though less affected by the Yellowstone volcano eruption than the other great powers?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 09:03:21 AM EST
Oh, if I were to get into changing the territory of the various nation-state units, I'd go crazy...

...and so would you. :)

Regarding Yellowstone

The decline of India and China is driven by other considerations, chief among them ecological depletion after millennia of the environment being super-managed by billions.

It was just Asia's time to be fallow.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 08:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, personally I think at least the Gulf States won't survive this century. (But on second thought, you did include border changes, for Brazil and the Indian subcontinent.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 28th, 2006 at 07:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The geographic units extant today maintain.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Fri Apr 28th, 2006 at 07:41:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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