Every science fiction fan worth his or her weight in Star Wars action figures knows that the Manifest Destiny of Mankind is to explore space, seek out new life and all that jazz, right? Now, nearly 40 years after the first moon landing, it’s kind of apparent that the rest of the species doesn’t think that way. This depresses fandom to a great degree, and we wish that something would change.
So how about this: Next Sunday AD, a series of breakthroughs in various fields creates a kit, composed of reasonably-inexpensive nanotech and a few other goodies, that changes global society in ways we can only imagine today. Naturally, this would be the point when we fulfill our Manifest Destiny... but it turns out that mankind is more interested in using the futureboxes to bring everybody up to a decent standard of living. Sure, there’s a certain amount of interest in space operations from governments and corporations, but no real interest in colonizing the Final Frontier.
This is a time for pioneers, people with skills and determination and who could be safely considered expendable by their patrons. In short, it’s a time for science fiction fans to stand up and be counted! Which they did, in great numbers.
Fast-forward a hundred or so years. Post-futurebox Earth is a mostly-peaceful collection of satisfied Fourth and Fifth Wave nations. Aside from maintaining the large collection of orbiting laboratores, factories, powersats and the comsats that keep the global Net intact the Earthers by and large have no real interest in space.
Well, eventually anyway. They’re working on it.
Fandom has, as it naturally does, broken into a number of factions scattered around the solar system. Each one has its unique take on Manifest Destiny, and each one is quite willing to screw over the others in order to do it. The major factions include:
The Luna City Federation, an alliance of the ten largest “Luna City” settlements, all pooling resources and selling helium to the Mundanes.
The United Federation of Planets set up shop in the Tharsis region of a terraforming Mars, and have declared their intent of spreading Roddenberry-style democratic rule across the cosmos.
The Galactic Republic controls the Hellas basin, and has the same goals as the UFP on paper. In reality, they’re in a race to line up the other Fen behind their ideological banner, and they intend to win.
In high Martian orbit, the Interstellar Alliance is busy hollowing out Phobos and turning into their capital Babylon 1. They tend to meddle in Fen affairs, trying to act as a neutral party whenever possible.
Jupiter is home to the Browncoats, free traders and settlers who’ve heard the Word of Joss, and that word is good. They don’t meddle in the affairs of most other Fen, but Browncoat “privateers” can be something of a headache for the other powers.
Hundreds of minor factions and fractions exist in space stations, the other moons or underfoot in major power territory. Factions like the Church of All Worlds, the various Free Mars parties, the Jedi and Sith of course, the Singularitans, Culturniks and Sheenisov seeking to bring their utopias to Fen and Mundane alike, splinter UFP factions like the Klingons roaming the asteroid belt, and somwhere out there the Lords of Kobal are lurking, having abandoned the solar system in search of their Promised Land. Nobody knows where they went, but they swore they would return, someday...