In the first half of the twentieth century, humanity discovered, developed and weaponised nuclear fission. Through a small amount of vision and a large amount of luck, humanity managed to survive long enough to actually advance these weapons and when they had exhausted their capacity to destroy, they invented new methods.
During the twenty-first century, humanity experimented with artificial consciousnesses and dismissed the idea that there may be alien civilisations – or at least dismissed the idea that if there were alien intelligences out among the stars, that they would be unable, unwilling or undesirable to make contact with.
Nations ceded more and more of their infrastructure over to multi-national corporations who resold the responsibility to other corporations creating an overclass of ‘middle men’ who garnered large fortunes and an underclass of workers who, despite having a good standard of living compared to their twentieth-century parents and grandparents, were truly the world’s poor.
Corporations became obsessed with providing value to their shareholders and began to replace humans in the workforce where they could manage it. This increased automation meant humans were grouped into two categories – those who would prove their value over and above the services of a machine and those who could not. The former would be elevated depending on their performance and the latter were forced to relinquish their positions. In many city areas, this led to a second market of barter and trade as individuals struggled to get enough to feed themselves or their family while the best and brightest stepped over them in the street on their way to get a latte.
The corporations also turn their attention skyward and begin to harvest hydrogen from captured ice-based comets for packaging and shipping back to Earth. Large space habitats are constructed which, though they require regular resupply from Earth, have hundreds of workers, machine and human, creating shareholder value.
Around 2090, following the trend of smaller nations, the USA outsources their military forces to a corporate contractor – one of four major global services companies – a move which is seen as positive based on increased oversight and decreased balkanisation though in truth the world is then left with four major superpowers where in the past there was only one. And this is when the wars start.
For the next sixty years a hot war is fought between these corporations using nations as their proxies. Technological advances have made previously uneconomical oil fields viable again for extraction and despite years of advances in corn-based fuels and bioplastics as well as heavy investment in solar power, fossil fuels represent a palpable resource which would benefit the holder.
The conflicts are local-scale though the influence of global concerns are well realised and in 2150 they expand beyond the biosphere when an explosive is detonated on a corporate supply vessel destroying an entire dock and mining facility orbiting Io. This creates an immediate escalation and over the next fourteen months there are nearly 21 incidents recorded as ‘Accident/Mishap’ but which can be attributed to corporate espionage. Following this, huge amounts of data are simply missing due to storage on ephemeral storage formats and destruction of long term storage facilities.
In 2214, a corporate-owned Seedship was dispatched to HO Librae. According to limited records, they were never heard of again. No other information is available.
Around 2218, an ABC (archaic) war breaks out in the Northern Hemisphere. Hardest hit during the exchanges are the USA, China and the Middle East with the USA receiving more than 70 high-yield warheads. There were also several nuclear impacts in the UK, Germany, France and Eastern Europe.. It is unclear which states were directly involved in the conflict but the nuclear exchanges only paved the way for the biological plagues to follow which ravaged the hinterlands of Europe and the USA. The conflict spreads in conventional warfare to almost every continent as weapons, technology and other resources are depleted or ruined. Supply craft to the space habitats stop and everyone who did not leave when they had the chance, starves to death.
Approximately a hundred and forty years (the exact number is unknown now) pass while society disintegrates. It is estimated that the population of the Earth plummets from 12 billion to a low of 1 billion during this time due the war, the lack of sanitation and food supplies and the loss of communications infrastructure.
“Umoja” is formed as a league of African nations though over the following twenty years they incorporate other remnant nations. Over time, the direction of the league changes from base survival to rebuilding a better society. Recovered technology allows for the rebuilding of communications networks and establishing new trade routes.
The Umoja council re-establishes the calendar after fifteen years, counting from the genesis of the Umoja (U0) and adopts English, Swahili and Spanish as major languages. Though none of them have a majority as a first language, it is sufficient for a lingua franca to exist. The rules and laws of the council are ratified later that year as the Unity Accord U15. In the modern era, this is prefixed by three zeroes to make a 5 digit year.
(See also discussion on government)
The year is U00197, nearly two hundred years since the formation of Human Unity.
The ‘parents’ of Human Unity
There are several individuals who are honoured within Human Unity as responsible for the formation of their modern society.
Kesho Mbaye – Born U-00038, Died U00025
Despite the disintegration of society, the Mbaye family continued to raise and harvest crops, pioneer techniques in water reclamation and energy generation and ran a school for adults and children alike in their home.
Kesho Mbaye spread the Mbaye societal system beyond the local region of her family home by organising the education of teachers and the creation of a supply chain which would permit the wider distribution of education. Under her tutelage, over ten thousand teachers were trained and deployed throughout central, western and southern Africa. Though other educational institutions exist, Mbaye teachers are highly regarded and the main school in Senegal teachers a thousand and one students every year. Competition for these places is fierce.
Roderigo Ahumibe – Born U-00002, Died U00065
Roderigo was the son of Peter Ahumibe and Marta Ester Fontecilla. Peter and Marta were two strong moral people who instilled a strong sense of morality, social justice and work ethic into their son. At the time of his birth, Umoja was still in it’s infancy and it is through Roderigo’s lifelong work that it became Human Unity. He abilities as a natural leader, a natural linguist and an astute scholar are nearly legendary and statues to his life, often depicting him as a labourer, are often at the head of classrooms in an attempt to inspire students.
Masira Ba – Born U00014, Died U00162
The Ba family made a name for themselves in the field of scientific endeavour when one of their daughters, Obe, was admitted to a Mbaye program for excellence in science. In all, four out of the seven Ba siblings were admitted to the Mbaye programs and all of them were rising stars and made great contributions to Human Unity. Of the family, Masira shines out due to her contributions to science and engineering of the first space habitats. Her designs for power management and shielding made practical the first truly re-usable space vehicles and her pioneering work on life support habitats had real world applications both in sealed orbital habitats and on Earth. She made her first space voyage at the age of 60 – recorded for posterity in a tearful message to the ground on the views over Europe, the damage visible even from orbit. On her death, she was posthumously recognised to have made the single greatest contributions to science in recorded history.
Some comments on the Pre-History section…
“The corporations also turn their attention skyward and begin to harvest hydrogen from captured ice-based comets for packaging and shipping back to Earth.”
Why are they harvesting hydrogen? Wouldn’t it be much more economical to ‘crack’ H2O to get whatever hydrogen they need?
“Around 2218, an ABC (archaic) war breaks out in the Northern Hemisphere.”
ABC = Atomic, Biological, Chemical?
“Supply craft to the space habitats stop and everyone who did not leave when they had the chance, starves to death.”
It might be interesting for the setting to have some people eking out an existence in space.
And some comments on the Human Unity section…
“Masira shines out due to her contributions to science and engineering of the first space habitats.”
Shouldn’t that be ‘the first space habitats of the Human Unity era’, as there are already space habitats referenced in the Pre-History section?
“power management and shielding made practical the first truly re-usable space vehicles”
I think you’d have to define ‘power management’, ‘shielding’ and ‘truly re-usable’. From my perspective there’s a host of technological areas that need to be advanced before we can get airliner-like spacecraft. The three most important are: Low weight – high strength materials; high power – high efficiancy engines and durable and fault-resistant ship systems.
“On her death, she was posthumously recognised to have made the single greatest contributions to science in recorded history.”
From the text it sounds like ‘science’ needs to be swapped with ‘engineering’ and “by the Human Unity” needs to be appended to the end of the sentence.
Another thing that might be nice to add – overcoming tribalism. Ghana has a nice method of overcoming this – kids are sent from their triabl areas to secondary schools all over Ghana. This results in the ‘top flyers’ in society having a real mix of friends from accross the tribal divide.
Some more thoughts:
“The Umoja council re-establishes the calendar after fifteen years, counting from the genesis of the Umoja (U0) and adopts English, Swahili and Spanish as major languages.”
I take it the Spanish is because of the contact with South America?
Portugese might be just as good, as Brasil (currently) has 50% of the South American population and is the continent’s powerhouse.
Brasil also dominates the eastern coast of South America, which would probably make it dominant in trade to Africa.
Also: “She made her first space voyage at the age of 60 – recorded for posterity in a tearful message to the ground on the views over Europe, the damage visible even from orbit.”
Why did she make this voyage?
The reason I ask is because Europe would only be visible (at least to the extent to be able to see damage) from an orbit highly inclined to the equator.
The HU has an advantage in space launches, as it can launch at zero-degrees to the equator – and so gets a ‘boost’ from the rotation of the Earth.
With such an advantage it makes more sense to use these low-inclination orbits for development.
Higher inclination orbits are useful for weather, survelance, GPS (but very high above the Earth) and Earth resources satellites). Given the way spaceflight has developed I can’t see much use for manned spaceflight to these orbits except for military purposes.
Now a flight could be done for publicity purposes, but that seems a bit wasteful given the setting. Perhaps the Middle East or India would provide a good substitute – or have her leading an aid team to Europe by airship?
1 ) Harvesting hydrogen from ice comets is cracking H20. Cracking h20 on earth does not a sustainable planet create.
2 ) I think that’s an in-game thing. The old way of doing things with unsustainable pods in space, caused death.
3 ) I don’t consider our era of space habitats to be ‘habitats’ because they’re non-sustainable.
4 ) This is a high level history so yes, she may have made strides to engineering too. She’s a Brunel as much as a Pasteur. A Tesla as much as an Einstein.
5 ) Tribalism exists in the West now and didn’t stop us from becoming ‘civilised’. This is going to be, what, 300 years in the future?
6 ) Spanish is spoken by 20 countries in the Americas. Portuguese by one. This is nothing against Brazil but countries with large armies suffered a lot.
7 ) She made her voyage because she was old an hadn’t been up there and was the largest single individual contributor to the Human Unity space effort.
8 ) I’ve not written it yet, but Human Unity is post-scarcity around this time – it just took 100 years to get there.
I will change some things though – I think I’ll transplant the Airship to another character story I’m writing.