|The Tranquility War|
This timeline is intended as a future timeline useful for short jumps to and from near-homeline futures. It was originally intended as a stand-alone setting, but fits in well with Ex Tempore.
2005 The Pax Americana. The US (with an obedient UN) enforces a more or less global peace, not tolerating any conflicts that may hurt world stability and its interests. Brush-fire wars and low-intensity conflicts abound in uninteresting areas, but any conflicts threatening to escalate, cause terrorism abroad or threatening US interests is firmly handled using remote controlled high-tech weaponry.
2008-2014 Under a series of conservative US presidents the Bioethics act of 2009 and the Human Integrity 2014 act are instituted and eventually turned into global bans on biotechnology aimed at human enhancement. Later this is extended by the Global Technological Threat Act of 2014 to independent nanotechnology and certain forms of AI. These policies are supported by a broad conservative-liberal consensus.
2009 The EU has closed its borders to nearly all forms of immigration.
2010 China undergoes the ”winter revolution” and becomes a somewhat shaky democracy. It largely joins the Pax Americana system, giving grudging support and compliance together with Europe.
2015 Commercial fusion becomes available. The industrialization of the third world, greenhouse fears and the increasing exhaustion of easily accessed fossil fuel lead to a move towards nuclear energy, but the US promotes fusion rather than fission in order to lessen risks of nuclear terrorism and proliferation. Most developed nations do not wish to build ”hot” reactors, and interest in the ”clean” Helium 3 reactors is growing. Solar power satellites proposed, but the microwave beams judged too risky (and with too large weapons potential). A project to mine He 3 on the moon is started.
2018 Effective AIDS vaccine becomes widespread. It is too late to prevent the massive demographic devastation of parts of Africa and Asia.
2020 First permanent US moon base, Tranquility Base.
2024 He 3 production on the moon. Space tourism and scientific research later added to the space-moon projects.
2020’s Environmental problems due to species spreading, ozone holes, greenhouse climate effects and habitat erosion.
2025 ”The Male Explosion” comes of age – due to gender selection males outnumber females in many areas. This causes instability, a re-evaluation of many traditional views in already changing traditional societies, increased mobility of young men on the look for jobs and wives. This increases the brain drain from less developed to more developed regions
2028 Europe builds its own addition the Tranquillitatis moonbase. A new joint base for water extraction constructed at the Peak of Eternal Light on the rim of Shackleton crater.
2030 The US benefits greatly from brain drain – it has a far younger population than its competitor Europe, and China has severe internal problems due to environmental and social disruptions. Over time this produces a situation where the best and brightest move to the US, amplifying the economic, cultural and political lead of the US.
Life extension technologies, while officially condemned, are widespread and serve to amplify the graying of the old first world. Research aimed away from ”socially disruptive” technologies and towards physics, materials science and ecology. Robotics is becoming important, but true AI remains elusive.
2032 First Chinese moonbase, Mare Imbrium.
2033 The US builds Farside Base in Mare Moskoviense, intended largely as a research outpost and site for the Lunar Array Telescope.
2035 The UN Moon Trade Treaty defines moon trade, settlement procedures and other functions. While it allows all nations to settle, the UN is given significant control over whether to allow a project or not.
2040 Much of what was formerly poor third world nations have emerged as industrialized and networked modern nations. Some trouble spots remain in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, but much of the world is becoming prosperous, democratic and networked in the global entertainment economy.
2041 Macroscopic amounts of antimatter produced on the Moon at the Procellarum base.
2044 A South American consortium dominated by Brazil, Chile and Rio Tinto Metals Inc. builds a base in Mare Nectaris. It is soon followed by a Japanese installation in Mare Serenitias and an Indian-Australian installation in Mare Crisium. By 2050 over ten different settlements exist, belonging to over 20 nations.
2050 The Pax has hardened into a gerontocracy. Many of the younger players on the international scene are gaining economic power and influence, chafing under the Pax. Occasional inventions and subversive technologies appear. Many younger people chafe, and seek new escapes. Many move into “free” space or ocean exploitation projects.
2060 The first generation of the ”brain drain people” is retiring or returning back home, bringing with them expertise and capital. New institutions have emerged in the former third world. The children and grandchildren of the brain drained set out to create their own local companies. The US is no longer the core of innovation, although most new companies are based on US capital and sell on US markets.
2065 More and more US projects (such as peacekeeping, asteroid defense etc) are moved to the UN, ostensibly to make them benefit everybody but in practice to make other nations pay part of them. This is combined with a push by many groups to have various activities under direct UN control globally. The UN expands horizontally and vertically.
2070 The US suppresses all outside antimatter research and development, and places it “under UN control”. The only antimatter production facility is located in Mare Procellarum and used to produce propellant antimatter (and possibly the elusive antiwarheads rumored to be in the US arsenal). US space dominance at its height.
2080 The US is sagging more and more in a world where the new economic centers are elsewhere. It still retains political and military hegemony, but the costs of maintaining it are staggering. It also realizes it has no true supporters anymore, only former subjects. The rigid gerontocracy cannot handle the problem and postpones it endlessly.
2085 A new energy source, catalytic fusion, runs on nearly any light element with no need for expensive and US-controlled He3. The Moon becomes irrelevant – not overnight, but the trend is clear. Old fusion systems are rapidly being replaced by the new catalytic systems. The Earth turns inward in the chaos as the old economic order finally collapses. Meanwhile a noticeable fraction of the moon inhabitants feel both abandoned and unwilling to leave their home for a planet they either have never seen or left deliberately.
2090 The soft revolution – the Pax is overthrown. When the US tries to get the other UN members to agree on another expensive project (a climate control network for controlling Atlantic weather ), they refuse despite US pressure. The image of the US as the sole center of power crackles overnight. New players step in, causing tremendous turbulence and uncertainty. Gerontocracies vs. ”the new nations” vs. other groups. The UN becomes one of the big battlegrounds.
2093 Formation of the Lunar Militia, an underground militant group among lunar settlers seeking lunar independence. Impopular among moderate settlers, but rapidly growing into the power vacuum left by the Earth powers. Over time several alternatives such as the Imbrium Association and the Lunar Peace Co-Op form.
2095 More and more moonbases are abandoned as the Helium market slumps. Lunar inhabitants try to take them over as co-ops and find new sources of income or make the moon self-sufficient. The lunar militias/organisations grow in power and influence.
2100 ”Reclaim the golden age” – many view the current era as a renaissance (complete with the political chaos and violence). Researchers eagerly aim to open up the avenues of research closed in the early decades of the century, although this will take time.
Europe and the US announce the closing of the Shakleton Base, it is no longer economical. The moon inhabitants, who are dependent on the water from the base, lack the money to buy it at the announced price. The Lunar Militia begins a move to seize it, which would not just give them water but heavy political pull on all remaining moon settlements. Other groups prepare for lunar war.
There are many options for future histories beyond 2100 in this timeline:
The now vibrant Earth civilization again turns outwards (around 2110) after the brief retreat inwards, and space becomes the new frontier. The setting will be similar to Gurps Transhuman space technologically, but the politics will look different. The Moon inhabitants might regard the Moon as theirs and struggle against new waves of colonists, prospectors and companies. Other parts of the solar system will be developed, and utterly new cultures will start to sprout among the planets.
War of the worlds: the Earth turns inwards, developing into some form of biotech utopia/dystopia, while the Moon struggles on using old-fashioned technology. Around 2200 the Moon has developed into its own culture, possibly aided by genetic engineering adapting humans to the environment. But slowly the worlds are moving into a cold war as each side stockpiles antimatter “just in case”, relations cool and they start to see each other as threats. This could lead to a devastating interplanetary war waged with antimatter, nanoweapons and AI proxy soldiers ending life on one or both worlds (or the return to some form of dark age; a “fantasy” setting of bioengineered humans with old tech “magic” living in the lunar tunnels might be fascinating). Another possibility is a never-ending cold war, slowly freezing cultures in place – until something shatters it.
One possibility is a Singularity. As billions of people amplify their intelligence through genetics, nanotechnology, AI and global mindshare networks development accelerates into a posthuman world very quickly. This posthuman civilization might expand and absorb the entire solar system, turning it into a wondrous and incomprehensible (to mere humans) place.
Another possibility is that the Earth undergoes a singularity but leaves the Moon behind. Signal lags makes the posthumans unwilling to leave far from Earth (if you are an intelligence a million times faster than a current human a one second delay is subjectively equivalent to more than a week) or deal with the humans on the Moon. So the Moon inhabitants will orbit a world inhabited by alien superbeings; most likely they will regard themselves as the real humans and the Earth as
Another version is that the singularity on Earth goes wrong: malign nanotechnology gets out of hand or an experiment in strange matter production results in strangelets absorbing ordinary matter until the entire Earth has been consumed and replaced by a tiny blob of strangelets. The Moon inhabitants suddenly find themselves the sole survivors of humanity and now must struggle to survive and achieve true self-sufficiency.
World population is 10 billion people. Life expectancy worldwide is about 101 years for women and 94 for men. Most people live healthy lives until they start to decline at a fairly fast rate. This has produced an even stronger resistance to death, since now most people die while they are living active lives and have many still unfinished projects.
Europe is a strongly isolationist and very aged society. The EU integrated more and more, until it became the first gerontocracy in the 2020s. The region is prosperous but managed by conservative bureaucrats. Euroforce, the armed branch of the EU, has been sent out (for the first time) to secure the EU lunar claims.
The United States became gerontocracy in 2040-2050. Many americans still do not recognize the end of the Pax, and a few hawks even suggest that the US should assert its power. However, the dominant force in politics is the “little old ladies of Washington”, conservative and risk aversive leaders unwilling to risk american lives just for ideals or pride.
Development in Sub-Saharan Africa was slowed by the Aids epidemic and generations of civil chaos. It began to truly emerge on the world scene in the 2070s-2080’s. Some of the youngest and most dynamic regions lie here, and much of global popular culture is influenced by the trends and fads in Benin, Togo, Nigeria and Kongo.
China is the largest economy in the world, a heavy corporativist wellfare state run by militant little old ladies.
Japan has developed into a gerontocracy extremely similar to Europe.
India is one of the new economic powerhouses, albeit well on its way to become a gerontocracy like the rest. Many young move to the vibrant new cities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan (Kabul is fast becoming both a financial and cultural metropolis).
South-east Asia is becoming a new dynamic region again. The old tiger economies declined for most of the 21st century, slowly coming under Chinese influence. By 2090 the economic changes had begun to pick up, and the tigers are re-awakening and chafing under China.
Siberia – A vast region with huge resources, made somewhat more accessible due to the greenhouse effect. Russia earned much income from allowing exploitation of the region over the last century. Now it has become prime real estate and many people leave cities to live telecommuting lives in the great outdoors.
The moon is a messy backwater. Originally settled by US, European and Chinese bases, later with mining colonies from other regions, it has always been seen as little more than a workshop floor. The new lunar militias and co-ops have not yet found any stable form, and it remains to be seen how stable they are and whether they can form any government.
One important group on the moon is the U.N.L.M. (the United Nations Lunar Mission). Its mission is demilitarization and separation of combatants, and other peacekeeper duties. Very ill-equipped, but the diplomatic price of shooting on "the blue visors" is a stiff one indeed.
Multinational corporations were integral to the old Pax. In current situation, where the old order is breaking up, they are falling like dominos, replaced by new structures such as igital tribes, smartswarms and jirgas. Digital communities became important 2010-2040, influencing politics strongly but never changing the system. The new net-tribes and co-ops are cutting across cultures and nations far more powerfully, contributing to the fall of the Pax and the emergence of the new economies.
The demographic changes have produced somewhat paradoxical effects. In many regions (India, China, much of south-east Asia and parts of south America) gender selection produced noticeable imbalances, making women rare. This led to them being put on pedestal, someone to win and lavish attention on. At the same time their longer lifespan creates an overrepresentation of women among the oldest. In the gerontocracies older ladies hold real power, and the majority of elderly with long-term investment hold significant political and economic power.
Most societies have become very risk aversive. New inventions and systems have to be thoroughly analyzed and tested to be officially accepted, and individual contributions are viewed as suspect. Extensive monitoring networks ensure public safety.
People spend much time in the global entertainment economy – experiencing and participating in the huge array of entertainments provided by the net. Most jobs deal with entertainment and the media in one way or another – being a systems developer, reviewer, script coordinator, actor, modeler, renderer, game tester or virtuality engineer is very common.
In a world run by little old ladies with stock portfolios there exist many youth subcultures (youth is usually defined as anybody below 40) that isolate themselves from the vast mainstream, taking pride in their unruliness, chaos and lack of responsibility. This has become accepted practice, and as long as the subcultures do not cause any damage or disruption outside certain informally agreed on areas it is OK.
Nanotechnology is not yet developed (although optimists think that without the Pax it will be developed within a decade). Biotechnology is somewhat limited, mainly medical applications for gene therapy treatments, diagnosis and targeted viruses against infections, as well as ecological technology and agbio.
The world has a well developed information technology, mainly used for entertainment and information management.
Cars and most other vehicles run on hydrogen fuel cells, which are refueled using hydrogen produced from water with fusion power.
Antimatter enables very fast space transports, but these are limited to a few US ships run by the U.S Orbital Corps. There are very rare antimatter weapons, so far never used in any military operation but casting a shadow through popular culture as the true “doomsday dust”.
Risk aversion has led to the development of highly automated weapons, both unmanned vehicles, attack drones and microbot swarms.
Sources of Ideas
Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Ken Macleod, The Star Fraction
Poul Andersson, The Stars are Also Fire
John Varley, Steel Beach