Ad Astra: A Science Fiction Game


Notes on History

The 21st Century

The 21st century was a time of the decline of nationism and the rise of both supranational blocs and transnational corporations. Humanity began to expand into the solar system, establishing industrial centres on Luna, outposts in the Belt and a colony on Mars. Late in the century the Second Industrial Revolution gripped the world as rapid advances were made in nanotechnology.

Selected Timeline
  • Puerto Rico becomes the 51st US state.
  • EF Senate moves from Strasbourg to Brussels.
  • Russian Republic joins EF.
  • EF becomes Eurasian Federation.
  • EF Senate moves to Berlin.
  • Nan Hai War begins.
  • Nan Hai War ends.
The Fourth Persian Gulf War
The EF first asserted its power in the occupation of the Saudi and Iraqi oilfields following its liberation of Iraq from Iranian occupation.
The Rise of the Eurasian Federation
The nations of Europe formed the European Federation in 2014. This grew into the Eurasian Federation, the most powerful nation in recent history.
The Brazilian War
The United States absorbed the Canadian and Mexican economies in the treaty of Spokane. The susequent American optimism was soon destroyed, however, by its involvement in a major war in South America.
Exploration of Sol System
The EF space agency mounted a human return to Luna early in the century. Later international cooperation paved the way for a substantial Lunar presence and the journey to Mars. The first landings on Mars took place in 2031.
The American Alliance
In 2039, NAFTA and the South American Union confederated to form the US-dominated American Alliance.
Colonisation of Mars
The UN established a permanent colony at Port Robinson in 2045, and full-scale colonisation began shortly thereafter. Initial preparations for a terraforming operation were made.
The Decline of Nation-States
The power of the larger multinational corporations began to rival that of nations. These corporations, the transnationals, soon began to dominate many nation-states. The old states fragmented, and supranational blocs grew above them.
Outposts in the Belt
A consortium of corporations and the United Nations Space Agency established an outpost at Ceres to oversee mining operations in the main asteroid belt. Many smaller habitats soon followed.
War, Famine and Pestilence
The increasing population of Earth (which had reached 10 billion by the end of the century), the decrease in easily exploitable resources and human-induced climate change lead to widespread starvation, epidemics and many small-scale conflicts.
Gaianist Philosophies
Traditional religion continued its decline; at the same time a number of Gaianist philosophies became popular. These emphasized respect for the environment and humanism.
The Second Industrial Revolution
Society was reshaped as drastically by nanotechnology as it was during the first Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.
Orbital Republics
As a by-product of the power-struggle between transnats and nations, several orbital habitats became independent states within the UN. Chief amongst these were the cities at the Earth-Moon Lagrange points.
Discovery of Extrasolar Planets
Dozens of extrasolar planets had been discovered in the late 20th century, but it took decades to make images of nearby rocky planets. Nitrogen/oxygen/water biospheres were discovered in several nearby systems.
The Hellas Revolt
The cities of the Hellas basin rebelled against the authority of the UN and the transnats. The short-lived Hellas Confederacy was soon crushed by transnational forces.

The 22nd Century

The 22nd century was a golden age on Earth. The hegemony of Eurasia enforced a peace that lasted for most of the century. In space, the transnats continued with the development of Mars and the Belt. The exploration of the stars began, first with robotic probes and then with colony ships. Dolphins and whales were recognised as sentient. A cure for ageing was discovered.

The one cloud hanging over Sol System was the increasing imperialism of Earth. The transnats tightened their grip on Mars leading to popular unrest and extensive violent resistance. At the end of the century Solar society was almost shattered when this unrest erupted into the War of Martian Independence.

Selected Timeline
  • Work begins on Mars beanstalk.
  • EF intervenes in Chinese Civil War; beginning of Pax Europa.
  • Alpha Centauri ramrobot departs from assembly works in Lunar orbit.
  • First elevators declared operational on Mars beanstalk. Much reduced travel costs usher in mass emigration to Mars.
  • Second Wave ramrobots depart for Tau Ceti, Delta Pavonis, Eta Cassiopei and DM +56.
  • Report arrives from Alpha Centauri ramrobot.
  • Third wave ramrobots depart for Zeta Tucanae, DM +19, Beta Comae and Beta Canum.
  • Alpha Centauri colony arrives.
  • First human-level AI initiated.
  • Signing of the Vienna Accords.
  • Colony departs for Tau Ceti.
  • Fourth wave ramrobots depart for DM -32, Chi1 Orionis and Beta Virginis.
  • Dolphins sentience recognised.
  • Colony departs for Delta Pavonis.
  • Solar mirrors begin to be emplaced on Mars to increase insolation.
  • Colony departs for Eta Cassiopei.
  • DM +56 report arrives.
  • Martian Unrest intensifies. Attacks on UN/Transnat facilities on Mars become widespread.
Development of Mars
Following the 'pacification' of the world by transnat security forces, the development of Mars began in earnest. A beanstalk was constructed and full-scale terraforming operations started.
Development of Cis-Lunar Space
Terran heavy industry moved into orbit, cities and habitats proliferated in the Clarke belt, a trio of beanstalks were built on Earth and one on Luna. The population and economy of Cis-Luna boomed.
Exploration of the Stars
Explorer 1, the first interstellar ramrobot, began its journey to Alpha Centauri, in 2110. Its report, describing a very Earth-like world, arrived in 2127. The rest of the century saw probes sent to many other nearby stars.
Immortality Treatments
Effective strategies for minimising and then eliminating ageing were invented. These were almost completely suppressed on Earth, but were widely used elsewhere in Sol System; many on Earth considered such treatments immoral.
Eurasian Hegemony
As the American Alliance declined, the EF became the only major government on Earth. For much of the century the Federation enforced a Pax Europa.
Interstellar Colonisation
The favourable report from Explorer 1 lead to a human colony being established in the Alpha Centauri system. As reports of more promising garden worlds trickled back to Sol, further colonyships were sent out.
Artificial Intelligence
Human and superhuman level artificial intelligences became common towards the end of the century. For reasons that are still unclear, many of the previously non-sentient AIs awakened into consciousness during a few weeks in 2172.
Belt Development and Independence
The Belt-based corporations built a colossal industrial base among the asteroids. The Ceres Combine eventually bought out most of the main Belt assets of other corporations, setting up a de facto independent state.
The Martian Underground
As the corporations tightened their grip on Mars in the decades after the failed Hellas Revolt, an underground culture flourished outside the transnat cities.
Corporate Nuclear Rivalry
The Golden Age of the mid 22nd century began to crumble under the weight of corporate rivalries by the 2150s. Soyuz-Mikoyan tested its first nuclear weapon in 2155, and soon all of the metanational corporations and the Belt Zaibatsus were engaged in an arms race as the System slid towards chaos.
Cetacean Sentience
True contact was established with several species of cetaceans and their sentience was recognised. Many dolphins began to make use of neural interfaces and waldoes; the whales refused, but opened up an interesting dialogue with humanity.
The Decline of Eurasia
As the power of the orbital corporations increased, that of the Eurasian federation waned. The EF was eventually party to the Vienna Accords, which handed over all territory beyond Earth to the UN; the alternative was for it to be completely dominated by the transnats. The UN became a pan-solar government, but an ineffectual one.
System: 2190
Human civilisation broadened in scope, becoming a culture spread across Sol System. This civilisation was still dominated by Earth, but Cis-Luna, Mars and the Belt were all becoming more important.

The Martian War

The Martian Unrest had been rumbling ever since the earlier Hellas Revolt of 2097, with occasional sabotage and theft by members of the underground. In the 2190s it flared into open war. The conflict was to become the most bloody in history.

Selected Timeline
  • Martian unrest begins. Attacks on UN/Transnat facilities on Mars become widespread.
  • DM +56 colonyship departs.
  • Tau Ceti colony arrives.
  • UN/Transnat forces begin to systematically exterminate the Mars population.
  • DM +19 report arrives.
  • Mars beanstalk cut in an attempt by Martians to cut off Earth-side support for UN/Transnat forces.
  • Shiva detected; strikes in Mid-Pacific despite frantic efforts to divert it.
  • Two billion die in Pacific Rim due to flooding.
  • Atmospheric dust leads to minor 'nuclear winter.' Significant deaths of dolphins.
  • Aghast at the destruction caused by Shiva, Martian and Belt groups mount a purge of 'fanatics'.
  • Operating on the basis that Belt forces caused the Shiva event, many of the more vulnerable Belt stations are targeted for retaliatory action.
  • Food Production plummets; brief flurry of conflicts over food supply and storage facilities.
  • Food riots in many nations.
  • Famine devastates Africa, Australia, Central America, Pacific Rim.
  • Martial law declared across North America and the EF to combat lawlessness.
  • Belt offers support to help Earth rebuild.
  • UN ends war against Mars.
  • Mars and Earth begin to rebuild.
Active Unrest Begins
In 2194 several underground groups began trying to provoke the transnats into becoming even more oppressive. They hoped that this would lead to the flashpoint that would ignite a true revolution.
Escalation of Resistance
Transnational responses to the Resistance raced out of control, leading to a staggering number of civilian casualties. The Martian response was equally savaged. Mars became a planet-wide warzone.
War Enters its Second Year
The Ceres Combine declared its support for the Martian Rebels. Martian saboteurs took the war to Cis-Lunar space, bombing weapons factories and shipyards. Eventually the Resistance collapsed the Gabon-Artsutanov beanstalk.
The Tide Turns
The Resistance began to win the struggle on Mars. Transnat forces began to exterminate all those of less than unquestionable loyalty. The resistance collapsed the Pavonis beanstalk. In Cis-Luna Earth nations began to take pot-shots against the transnats.
A radical Belter group directed an asteroid, renamed Shiva, against Earth. The impact in mid-Pacific on 22 February 2201 and subsequent environmental disruption killed billions of people. The Cis-Lunar habitats retaliated with kinetic weapon attacks on the Belt. The war was effectively over.
On 1 Jan 2203 the war was formally ended, and the long task of rebuilding began in earnest. Ceres began an extensive aid programme on Earth.

The 23rd Century

Selected Timeline
  • Freeze on terraformation of Mars agreed by popular vote of Martians.
  • Earth's population comes out of freefall at four billion.
  • Earth's climate settles down to a more normal pattern.
  • Report arrives from Zeta Tucanae ramrobot.
  • First dolphin citizens start working in solar society and travelling around the solar system.
  • Delta Pavonis colony arrives.
  • Report arrives from DM+19 279 ramrobot.
  • Eta Cassiopei colony arrives.
  • Report arrives from Beta Comae ramrobot.
  • Colony departs for Zeta Tucanae, with dolphins and AIs on board. This becomes standard for colony ships.
  • Report arrives from Beta Canum ramrobot.
  • DM +19 colonyships depart.
  • DM +56 colonyships arrive.
  • Colony departs for Beta Comae.
  • Hundred Hours War between Earth and Terran Imperium.
  • Colonyship Mayflower II departs for Beta Canum.
  • Following advances in understanding of mammalian neuropsychology, serious work on the uplift of chimps commences.
  • Sol system decides to despatch 300 scientists and their equipment to study and 'uplift' the Soos'Aer.
  • Volatiles Embargo.
  • Malaysian Tower crisis.
  • Consensus Enforcement begins Burma Pacification Campaign.
  • Zeta Tucanae colony arrives.
  • Praesidial Expeditionary Force defeated in Burma; CE disbanded.
  • Report arrives from Chi 1 Orionis ramrobot.
  • Scientists arrive Elysium to assist with Soos 'Aer.
  • Report arrives from DM -32 8179 ramrobot.
  • Report arrives from Beta Virginis ramrobot.
The Birth of a Free Mars
As the War came to an end on Mars, the many rival resistance groups began to cooperate to build a new, free Mars.
Collapse and Recovery
The aftermath of Shiva caused crop failures, global climate changes and the partial collapse of social order and infrastructure.
Disgovernance of Eurasia
The Eurasian government was disassembled by the Ceres Combine zaibatsus as the easiest target for their attempts at social engineering on a shattered Earth.
Dark Days in Cis-Luna
The near total cessation of trade with Earth plunged the Orbital habitats and Luna into a crisis, for both depended on the planet below for food. A massive self-sufficiency programme eventually dispelled the threat of famine.
The Martian War had been the first truly Pansolar War, a sociopolitical phase transition that radically altered the balance of power in the System.
Belt Dominance
The abundant riches of the main belt asteroids enabled the massive economic growth of the Belt, which became the dominant power of Sol System. The power of the Ceres Combine itself declined as the habitats and factions exploded into cultural and morphological diversity.
Development of the Outer System
In the aftermath of the War of Martian Independence, the colonies on the Galilean moons of Jupiter formed the Jovian League. At about the same time the colony on Titan became important to the Belt as a source of nitrogen.
Resumption of Interstellar Colonisation
With the emergence of some degree of stability, several Belter and Cis-Lunar groups turned their attention once more to the extrasolar systems. Colonies set out for Zeta Tucanae, DM+19 279, Beta Comae Berenices and Beta Canum Venaticorum.
First Contact with the Soos'Aer
On Elysium, the fourth world of Tau Ceti, humanity first met an intelligent extraterrestrial species: the aquatic, pack-hunting Soos'Aer.
The Archipelago
By the mid 23rd century there were thriving colonies at Midgard (Alpha Centauri), Elysium (Tau Ceti), Cybele (Eta Cassiopei) and Esperance (DM+56 2966). The colony at Delta Pavonis was struggling.

The future of Ad Astra

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