An Overview of the Earth Colonies Sphere
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue.
The following excerpt is from the essay “A Brief Chronicle of the Earth Colonies Sphere” which appeared in Let Us All Celebrate Together, a “special commemoration” published by the New Lagos Guardian as part of its wide-range of media issued in celebration of the sexacentennial of the settlement of Nyanza.
The key to the stars has been the jump-drive — without it, the space between the stars takes years, even lifetimes to cross; with it, starships travel parsec distances in a matter of weeks. The development of the jump drive marked a new beginning of interstellar travel for the Humans and Dolphins of Earth.
Nevertheless, a central fact of interstellar travel is that no method of information transfer faster than jump drive has been discovered. Starships can carry message, but communication still lags at mere light-speed. Communication is always restricted to the speed of interstellar transportation.
For Earth, the first, sub-light interstellar voyages began in the late 21st Century. These voyages introduced Humans and Dolphins to Alpha Centauri and the other near-solar stars. With the discovery of habitable worlds in near-solar systems the slow process of interstellar colonization by the sub-light expeditions began in the 22nd Century. Much of this effort was undertaken by chartered interstellar development companies, granted exclusive development rights to the settlement worlds in return for financing the expeditions.
The limitations of sub-light travel eventually slowed the pace of interstellar colonization in the 23rd Century. The extent of ecological deterioration on Earth — which had been increasingly apparent since the dawn of the 21st Century — also became inescapable in this period. The worsening ecological conditions gave rise to scattered “eco-essentialist” movements which came to consolidate their efforts by the end of the century.
In the early years of the 24th Century the damage to Earth’s ecosphere led to the Break-up, a period of unprecedented physical destruction and social disruption. Former eco-essentialist groups across the planet eventually came to power in many regions, often accompanied by extensive conflict and, at times, open warfare. As the chaos and devastation expanded many quickly-organized interstellar colonization efforts were launched aboard generation starships, sometimes officially sponsored and other times organized by dissident or splinter groups. This was the Sundering — called the Runaway by those left behind on Earth — and while many Colonial State worlds were settled by generation ships launched during this period, many other ships which departed during the Sundering were never heard from again. By the end of the century Earth had lost contact (other than by electromagnetic transmission) with the near-solar colonies, many of which did not survive the loss of that connection.
The chaos and conflict of the Break-up on Earth slowly began to fade in the early decades of the 25th Century. The impact to civilization was apparent in a technological fall back as the gradual restoration and rebuilding of Earth’s ecosphere slowly got underway. Light-years away (the farthest nearly 25 light-years distant) the first Colonial Worlds, Nyanza among them, were being settled by the generation ships which had fled Earth during the Sundering — as much as eight decades after they had departed (a bit less time had passed for those aboard the ships themselves). Because many of the colony worlds had not been previously surveyed some of these settlement efforts were unsuccessful while other colonists struggled mightily against hostile ecospheres. On those worlds with the most hospitable ecospheres — like Nyanza — the colonial settlements took hold quickly and prospered.
By the dawn of the 26th Century Earth’s technological collapse had deepened as efforts continued to be focused on recovery from the Break-up and on repairing the damage to the ecosphere. At the same time, light-years away, the most successful Colonial Worlds began to flourish with independent technological accomplishment on the most successful worlds approaching that diminished capability of Earth. Indeed, as Earth’s technological accomplishment fell further by mid-century some of the most advanced Colonial Worlds (again, Nyanza among them) began to surpass the homeworld. Nevertheless, by the end of the century most of the ecological damage on Earth had been repaired.
With the repair of its ecosphere, development began again on Earth, with an improvement in technological accomplishment by the middle of the 27th Century. Meanwhile, the most advanced Colonial States — Nyanza at the forefront — began to send sub-light expeditions to nearby star systems, establishing their own colonies. Earth also returned to the stars, re-establishing contact with those near-solar colonies which had managed to survive or resettling many of the near-solar worlds where the original colony had failed.
The global cooperation which had been necessary to repair Earth’s ecosphere was at the heart of the establishment of the Commonwealth of Earth at the dawn of the 28th Century. Earth’s technological accomplishment continued to recover and the Commonwealth slowly expanded to include all of former the near-solar colonies. At the same time many of the Colonial States (the newly-established Federation of Nyanza among them) were extending their authority to their own interstellar colonies, making them interstellar states too. By mid-century the most advanced Colonial States, including the Commonwealth, had progressed to relative parity in technological accomplishment.
In the early years of the 29th Century the first jump drives were invented independently on Nyanza and on New Canaan — known as Gaea in the era prior to Abrahamism’s Sarai Transformation — but eventually the technology was diffused to all of the Colonial States. The advent of faster-than-light travel led to the first formal contacts among the Colonial States. Traders from the Federation of Nyanza first reached the Commonwealth in 2873ad by which time regular trade had already been underway between Nyanza and the Ouroran Community. Nyanzan traders made their way to the worlds of the Abrahamic Synod and the Empire of Aztlán as well.
In 2898, the first encounter between Humans and Dolphins and extraterrestrials occurred when an unfamiliar starship arrived at Ehime, the capital of the Empire of Shinnihon. Aboard was a trade expedition of the Aeroi, an extraterrestrial civilization from beyond the Colonies Sphere.
By the beginning of the 30th Century, the most advanced Colonial States continued to increase their technological accomplishment. The corresponding improvements in jump drive allowed them to consolidate their rule over their interstellar colonies and sparked new waves of interstellar colonization and corresponding expansion. Early in the century, the first Meren ships, from another extraterrestrial civilization beyond the Colonies Sphere, appeared in the Ouroran Community. As Meren and Aeroi spread throughout the Colonies Sphere the low-intensity conflict between them known as the Markets War began to unfold. At times there were smaller, hotter wars between Colonial States as their borders began to run up against each other. As the century came to a close, the most advanced Colonial States reached a technological accomplishment matching Aeroi and Meren capabilities in the Colonies Sphere.
Interstellar travel is not commonplace in the Colonies Sphere with four parsecs per week faster-than-light (FTL) speeds only available to the most advanced military and technical users. The vast, low-density stellar neighborhood of the Colonies Sphere adds some interesting aspects to interstellar travel.
The Earth Colonies Sphere
The Colonies Sphere is a region of charted space centered on the Sol system. The Sphere measures more than 30 parsecs in diameter and consists of over 500 systems scattered among 56 districts (the boundaries of some of these districts extend beyond the Sphere and therefore include uncharted star systems). Each district is eight parsecs spinward to trailing, ten parsecs coreward to rimward, and nine parsecs nadir, or “downward”, to zenith, or “upward”, containing 720 cubic parsecs. The average stellar density in this region of space results in approximately 25 systems per district.
Many worlds in the Earth Colonies Sphere have been settled by Humans and Dolphins from Earth. The Sphere includes several rival interstellar states, independent communities established by worlds originally settled from Earth:
- Federation of Nyanza (capital at Nyanza/Nyanza): Nyanza’s settlers fled the African continent and surrounding oceans during the Sundering. The worlds of the Federation are the most cosmopolitan in the Colonies Sphere.
- Commonwealth of Earth (capital at Earth/Sirius): Homeworld to both Dolphins and Humans, Earth is also the capital of the largest state in the Colonies Sphere.
- Abrahamic Synod (capital at New Canaan/Gaea): Settled by followers of the Abrahamic faith who fled Earth during the Sundering, New Canaan sends missionary vessels throughout the Colonies Sphere and beyond.
- Empire of Aztlán (capital at Aztlán/Procyon): The strongest military power in the Colonies Sphere, the Empire of Aztlán seeks to expand its control among the many independent worlds in the Sphere.
- Ouroran Community (capital at Amazonas/Ourora): By far the major economic power in the Colonies Sphere, the Ourorans often find themselves in fierce competition with the Aeroi.
Other states of the Colonies Sphere include the Republic of Kiangsi, the Rajasthani Confederacy, the Dolphin-dominated Theridian League, the Quebecer Republic, the Empire of Shinnihon and the Kingdom of Hejaz. While several independent worlds exist most worlds claim some sort of allegiance to one of the Terran-settled interstellar states in the Sphere.
The two extraterrestrial sophont species encountered so far have established outposts and settled several worlds on the fringes of the Colonies Sphere.
- Aeroi (Gaean for “sky-folk”), based at hvi-Unapfi/Auriga: The Aeroi are indigenous to a world far beyond the Colonies Sphere. Aeroi, who abhor violence but dominate interstellar trade, travel to every major world in the Sphere.
- Meren (Ouroran for “sea ones”), based at Dedn/Europa: The Meren, who often resort to militarism in their quest to control hospitable hydrospheres, are also from beyond the Colonies Sphere. Their expansion into the Sphere, including sometimes violent competition with the Aeroi, has lessened recently as their attention has mysteriously turned inward.
— Dugless Kwaresima, Varaham Professor
Université de la Nouvelle-Kinshasa, Nyanza
A Brief Chronology of the Earth Colonies
- Earth at “Interplanetary” technological accomplishment
- Gaian religion established; Abrahamic religion established
- Rise of supranational economic blocs
- Orbital and lunar colonization; interplanetary exploration and colonization
- Human recognition of Dolphin sapience
- Sub-light interstellar exploration
- Sub-light colonization of near-solar systems
- Earth rises to “Late Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2150
- Rise of chartered interstellar development companies
- Earth ecological deterioration becomes apparent
- Rise of the eco-essentialist movement
- Earth reaches “Substellar” technological accomplishment c2300 (historical peak)
- “Break-up”—Height of Earth ecological disaster
- Former eco-essentialist groups rise to power
- “Sundering” (or “Runaway”)—Generation ships launched
- Interaction with near-solar colonies ends
- Most successful Colonial Worlds settled
- Earth falls to “Late Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2450
- Gradual rebuilding of Earth ecosphere
- Earth falls to “Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2500
- Colonial Worlds flourish
- Earth falls to “Early Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2550
- Most Earth ecological damage repaired
- Colonial Worlds begin sub-light interstellar colonization
- Earth returns to “Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2650
- Earth re-establishes interaction with surviving near-solar colonies
- Earth returns to “Late Interplanetary” technological accomplishment c2700
- Major Colonial States established
- Earth returns to “Substellar” technological accomplishment c2750
- Major Colonial States reach “Early Interstellar” technological accomplishment c2800
- Contact among Colonial States
- Contact with Aeroi
- Major Colonial States rise to “Interstellar” technological accomplishment c2900
- Interstellar warfare among Colonial States
- Contact with Meren
- Major Colonial States rise to “Late Interstellar” technological accomplishment c3000