Tag Archives: Future History

Earth in 2174: Membership in the Federated Nations

Members of the Federated Nations, the successor organization of the United Nations:

Members of the Federated Nations, 2174
Members of the Federated Nations, 2174

This map should be considered as a “draft” – I may still change the status of a few nations. Either way, some notes may be in order:

  • The FN was organized by only a handful of nations, but a far greater number signed the charter when the FN was founded. The Second American Republic was a key force behind the FN treaty.
  • Texas was a founding member along with the entirety of the United States, but the membership treaty failed ratification. This was a major embarrassment for the Americans. Texas was admitted seven years later, after pro-FN politicians ran a successful campaign decrying Texan loss of influence on world politics.
  • The Andean Community withdrew from the FN in protest when the FN failed to force Venezuela to withdraw from annexed Colombian territory.
  • Morocco was expelled after severe human rights violations came to light.
  • Iraq withdrew on influence from the Islamic Union.
  • The Islamic Union, and most of the countries in its influence, never joined the Federated Nations. This also implies that the FN was founded after the Islamic Union – a key point I will probably change.
  • The Chinese Empire blocked membership of Xinjiang.

Earth in 2174: Active Conflicts

Here’s a bonus map for Earth in the year 2174; Active conflicts.

Earth, 2174: Active ConflictsChina: The Vietnamese are opposing annexations, though the conflict has lost some of its severity. Xinjiang is resisting re-integration into the Chinese Empire; it’s the last hold-out from the Chinese civil war that ended the PRC.

Pakistan: After nearly a Century of peace, the Islamic Union has begun stirring up trouble in the rural areas, inciting tribal leaders to start a rebellion against central rule. Pakistan enjoys the full support of its closest ally, India, and observers expect this rebellion to be beaten down quickly.

Middle East: The Islamic Union is attempting to drive back the Russians, who still occupy part of Iran. It’s a long, drawn out conflict of asymetric warfare – the Russians view it more as a police action against terrorists than as a real war.

Africa: The Islamic Union continues its expansion slowly, but surely. Other African countries are coordinating their defenses and are in talks of settling the IU problem for good. The Andean Community, the EU, and the Chinese Empire are attempting to prevent an all-out African war.

South America: Bolivia and Chile are suffer from an unending series of border incidents; resentment still run deep on the Chilean side over the annexation of the corridor to the Pacific by Bolivia. Defense commitments by the other Andean Community partners discourage a Chilean attack, but it is an open secret that Chile is trying to rally other South American nations for an alliance against Bolivia.

Meanwhile, Colombia is attempting to negotiate a release of occupied territories that Colombia had to cede to Venezuela. Armed, pro-Colombia resistance, has committed a number of atrocities and hardened the Venezuelan stance, however, and no peaceful agreement seems possible.

Earth, 2174 – Final

The final version of the Earth 2174 map:

Earth 2174 - Final
Earth 2174 - Final

Took me way too long, and I still feel that especially the southern half of Africa needs some border changes – but it’ll do for now. Now I know what big nations exist in 2174, and that means I can proceed with what I am really after: Exploring other solar systems!

Earth, 2174 – WIP 1

The political landscape of the 22nd Century has changed considerably from what people took for granted in 2011.

I spent surprisingly long on this map so far, but then I did a good deal of research.

North America in 2174 - WIP 1
North America in 2174 - WIP 1

I am fairly happy with the style of this map so far. Of course there are no bells nor whistles, but that will come with time.

H. Beam Piper’s Terro-Human Future History

One of my favorite Science Fiction authors is H. Beam Piper. He lived from March 23rd, 1904 until early November 1964, when he tragically committed suicide. He chose to kill himself because he – incorrectly – thought that his writing career was at a dead end.

Piper’s work can be divided into roughly two parts, or two “settings”, if you will. His “Paratime”storylines deal with alternate worlds and alternate timelines; the Paratime Police deals with incursions and problems in different timelines; their society jealously guards the secret of travel to parallel worlds while exploiting the same for their own benefit. If you ever read GURPS Time Travel (or the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting), you will find that Paratime was the main influence for their setting.

The other group of stories by Piper is usually referred to as the Terro-Human Future History. It’s basically an example of the “consensus cosmogony” that science fiction writers only needed – and still need – to hint at for the reader to make assumptions about the future of human history.

Piper’s Future History

The history of H. Beam Piper’s Science Fiction stories diverges early from our own timeline, the UN collapses and World War III leads to a follow-up organization, the Terran Federation. It is World War IV that completely devastates the Northern Hemisphere. The southern nations rebuild civilization, and the Hyperdrive is developed in circa 2126, finally bringing mankind to the stars.

Piper’s setting is notable because its society is not American-based. His characters are a very wild mix of nationalities, and for example major universities are in Australia and South America rather than the US and Europe. Culturally, there isn’t all that much difference, though.

Mankind’s early exploration of interstellar space is run by the Terran Federation, which charters company to colonize and exploit various worlds. So for example there’s the Chartered Uller Company, and so on. These companies act pretty much like their British equivalents that settled North America.

The Terran Federation expands and then fights a war against the System States Alliance, a group of worlds that declares independence. The resulting war eventually triggers the collapse of the Federation, and a long time of anarchy descends on human space before the Empire revives interstellar civilization.

The Books

A quick Terro-Human Future History Bibliography:

  • [amazon_link id=”B0046RELVC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Uller Uprising[/amazon_link] (1952): Details a native uprising on the planet Uller. (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Graveyard of Dreams (Short story, 1958): A boy comes home from Terra to tell his town’s people that the magic computer they are looking for does not exist. – later expanded into a novel as “The Cosmic Computer”. (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441231918″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Federation[/amazon_link].)
  • [amazon_link id=”1153622793″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Four-Day Planet[/amazon_link] (1961): A modern whalers’ tale; the Sea Monster hunters’ collective is run by corrupt officials; things are stirred up when competition arrives from Terra. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • [amazon_link id=”1612790542″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Cosmic Computer[/amazon_link] (1963): Citizens of a planet covered by the remains of a lost war are starting a salvaging company to find a mythical supercomputer and jump-start the planetary economy as a side-effect. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • [amazon_link id=”B004L9L6DQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Space Viking[/amazon_link] (1963): After his wedding is crashed by gunfire and his newly-wed bride killed by an assassin, a space viking sets out to hunt down the murderer among the stars. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • [amazon_link id=”1461068150″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Little Fuzzy[/amazon_link] (1962): Discovery of a new sentient species, and the question – just how do you define sentience?
  • [amazon_link id=”0441261965″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Fuzzy Sapiens[/amazon_link] (1964, originally The Other Human Race): Sequel to Little Fuzzy.
  • [amazon_link id=”B000K3ZGL0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Fuzzies and Other People[/amazon_link] (1984): Sequel to Little Fuzzy.
  • Omnilingual (Short Story, 1957): How do you translate the language of an extinct alien species that has no cultural connection with you? (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441231918″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Federation[/amazon_link].) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Naudsonce (Short Story, 1962): A starship crew discovers a new sentient species. (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441231918″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Federation[/amazon_link].) (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Oomphel in the Sky (Short Story, 1960): The natives are going berserk because they think the world will soon end… (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441231918″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Federation[/amazon_link].) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • When in the Course (Short Story, 1982): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441231918″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Federation[/amazon_link].)
  • The Edge of the Knife (short Story, 1957): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441205585″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Empire[/amazon_link].) A history teacher can see into the future, and gets into all kinds of trouble when he accurately predicts an assassination. The Edge of the Knife is used by Piper to lay out many concepts of his Future History.(Get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • A Slave is a Slave (1962): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441205585″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Empire[/amazon_link].) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • Ministry of Disturbance (1958): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441205585″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Empire[/amazon_link].) (Get from Project Gutenberg.)
  • The Return (1954): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441205585″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Empire[/amazon_link].) (get it from Project Gutenberg.)
  • The Keeper (Short Story, 1957): (Collected in [amazon_link id=”0441205585″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Empire[/amazon_link].)

There’s a magazine (fanzine?) article in which Piper published a rough timeline of his Future History, and is worth a look after you read some of his books:

  • Zenith – Future History No 1 (1964) – Article in which H. Beam Piper presents a timeline of his Future History.

There are two Piper stories that are not, technically, part of Future History, but which fit really well:

  • The Answer (1959): Two scientists are dropping an antimatter payload into the Argentinian wilderness to see what happens, and make an interesting discovery about the World War that devastated the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Lone Star Planet (1958): Ambassador Steven Silk must find out who murdered his predecessor, and why, before he himself becomes the next victim. The setting is very similar to the Terro-Human setting; to make them compatible one would simply have to change the Solar League from Lone Star Planet into the Terran Federation, and change minor details of administration and policy. (Get from Project Gutenberg.)

Piper and Traveller

Piper’s works were among those that influenced the Traveller Role-Playing Game. Off the top of my head:

Recommendations

Ever since I discovered Piper – way too late in my life – his work has been a major influence on my own sicence fiction designs.

If you want to read Piper, my recommendations are:

  • The Cosmic Computer
  • Space Viking
  • Uller Uprising
  • Oomphel in the Sky
  • Omnilingual
  • Four-Day Planet

The other stories aren’t bad, but I think those are the best of the crop.

Enjoy!

Future History – Let’s Get This Started

“Voyagers” was the working title for the first iteration of my science fiction setting. To differentiate the second attempt, the revision, I’ll call it Future History because my approach will be different: Instead of just arbitrarily making up stuff as I go along, I will attempt to “simulate” the future until I get to a large interstellar society.

Matters of Time…

Of course Voyagers had a worked out timeline too. In fact it was quite thorough – about 14000 words. The problem with the timeline was that I created it before the setting’s map was really done. As a consequence, none of the events outside the solar system really had a “sense of place”. This is especially a problem for the “near future” events, that is, the ones from the early years of human space exploration. Now that my map is fairly well worked out, I’d have to go back and retrofit the timeline. And there are certain problems with the map, too. I have no doubt I can make it work with relatively little effort, but I have the feeling I would be chasing consistency issues for a long time.

.. and of Space

Then there is another issue with the Voyagers setting. It covers way too much territory. There is absolutely no way I could ever hope to completely map a couple of billion cubic light years of space. About the only way to do that is to do what Traveller did: They basically compressed their universe into a flatland and split it up into a 1×1 parsec hex grid. The Voyagers map didn’t depict the z-Axis either but I have always been keenly aware that it was missing. When you map out galactic distances, that’s okay to an extent – the Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and its disc is only about 1000 light years thick. But when you combine it with space ships that can only travel a fraction of that 1000 light years distance in one trip, well, then you have to have your third dimension.

Compressing a Setting

After mulling these issues over, I decided that a viable approach might be to scale things down. Sure, I won’t quite have galaxy-spanning adventures, but do I really need to? The design goal for Voyagers had always been “reasonable realism” – that is, cutting corners only when necessary for the story. This is a science fiction setting rooted in H. Beam Piper and Robert A. Heinlein fiction – it’s not Star Wars.

So what kind of scale do I need, anyway, at the upper end?

  • According to the Wookiepedia, the Star Wars Empire had 1.5 million member worlds, and 69 million “colonies, protectorates and puppet states”. Assuming that this averages to one system each, 71 million star systems in total, this is the number of star systems you’d realistically find in a slice of the galactic disc 6000 light years across. Sure, not all of the star systems in that slice will be inhabited or even have planets, but it still illustrates the point: The Star Wars Galaxy is a pretty empty place.
  • Traveller’s Third Imperium and its 11,000 member worlds – all of which are one system in one hex each, as discussed above, theoretically fits into a sphere with a diameter of 200 light years or so.

What this means is that you can have – in theory – a lot of diversity in a fairly small volume of space. Some other science fiction settings I liked never used more than a dozen or two worlds. Larry Niven’s Known Space comes to mind; the Wikipedia article lists 22 worlds and that includes Earth, the Belt and even Kobold. I don’t think I was ever bored by that setting.

So in the end I can use a much smaller setting. To make space exploration more interesting, I always intended to put a limit on jump drive technology. In my prototyping of a map of near space, I assumed a limit of <9 light years per jump. I quickly found out that 2300 AD, GDW’s “hard” science fiction role-playing game, found a sweet spot with the limit they chose: 7.7 light-years. More than this, and there won’t be much of a tree-like structure to space travel; much less, and mankind won’t be getting very far: There is a choke-point between Ross 154 and Lacaille 8760 where a 7.36 light-year jump is needed. In the end, I decided to stick to the same 7.7 light year limit.

Outline of History

I am a firm believer in having a purpose to a setting, a concept, before building it. I don’t have to adhere to it if things just develop differently but I like to know where I am going.

The science fiction setting will have several “stages”:

  1. “Near Future” – Earth-bound science fiction
  2. Interplanetary exploration and colonization
  3. Interstellar colonization

These are fairly straight forward. Now, I have also need for a stage where not all colonies have access to the same technology, and where they are not all governed by a central government. It must be possible for “adventurers” to come to a star system and discover a human colony on one of the worlds, one that may not even remember Earth. Clearly, this requires for a lot of time to pass – and for some sort of breakdown of or at least lull in central control.

  1. Time of Earthside wars
  2. Recovery and unification

During the Earthside wars, the power blocs of Earth slug it out for some reason. The war spills over into space, of course, and to the colony worlds. A lot of them decide that getting involved is not only a bad idea, they also don’t really believe in the war. So they eitherjust continue with business as usual, or even declare themselves independent.

After the war, Earth finally gets its act together and unifies under one strong alliance – or perhaps the more powerful colony worlds even step in and enforce peace. Be that as it may, after the dust has settled Earth is in control of only a core set of colonies. The edges of human space have frayed away – the worlds there are now independent, and colonization of new worlds continues without central planning, control, or even approval. Human space expands outwards at an unknown rate.

This could form the springboard to an Interregnum, to continue with the almost axiomatic course of human space exploration, or perhaps Terra just becomes complacent – if some outer colonies can develop for a few centuries without interference, the Empire could arise and become powerful and eventually return to invade Terran space.

So now I have a rough plan. Time to get cracking – there’s a Galaxy to be colonized.