Solar System in the 9th Century AT

The status of the Solar System at the end of the Interplanetary Dark Ages, and before the establishment of the First Federation.

The Dark Ages
Image from Bernd Helfert

By the start of the 9th Century AT, the solar system was well on the way to recovery after the Technocalypse. The furthest planets and moons were settled and being developed, space technology was advanced enough for fast interplanetary craft, and plenty of artificially intelligent entities were abroad in the system, but there was still much work to be done.

Many of the players in the Solar System were antagonistic to each other, and there was the ever-present fear of nano-outbreaks and antagonistic or dysfunctional AI.

The Antimatter Farms - Closer to the Sun than Mercury, these structures were engaged in antimatter production. Most of these structures had been appropriated for use by GAIA after the Great Expulsion, but an increasing number of independent farms were being established in this century. Also in this sector were a small number of Vulcanian asteroids, most of which were inhabited.

Mercury - Mining civilisation with some agricultural domes underground. Exports construction material and a small amount of manufactured antimatter. Imports volatiles, biotech. Surrounded by a series of rotating tethers used to launch mined material for export.

Venus - After a long period of inactivity, the upper atmosphere of this world was being mined once again using scoopships, yielding carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Using this material and resources collected from captured Aten asteroids, a sparse ring of orbiting habitats was under construction. Eventually this would become a continuous ring. A few balloon cities in the atmosphere had been constructed, but the shortage of hydrogen on this world was a limiting factor, and imports from the outer system were increasingly important. A large power plant in Venus' L1 position produced beamed power for export, mostly used to boost spacecraft in the vicinity. Many ex-Genetekkers had taken refuge in Venus space, especially TwinStreamers, cybertweaks who would eventually produce a clade of Venus tolerant extremophiles.

Earth - This world was strictly off limits, no non-residents could approach this planet any closer than the distance of the Earth-Moon Lagrange point (326200 km). GAIA, the S:2 level goddess in charge of Earth, maintained a close watch on the entire Solar System; Her agents had recently acted to prevent an asteroid bombardment of the Earth. Despite Her isolation it was evident that She would act decisively whenever the Earth or her infrastructure was threatened.

Luna - Surrounded by a series of rotating tethers, and girdled by dozens of mass driver systems, the Moon was still overcrowded with refugees from Earth, although conditions were gradually becoming less extreme. Luna was governed by a co-operation between several S:1 hyperturings and superior level human politicians. This world suffered from a shortage of volatiles and carbon; to obtain these it exported silicon, aluminium, iron, titanium and broadcast power. Fission power from local uranium supplemented the photovoltaic layer that covered most of the surface of this world. Many thousand years later this small world would be largely covered by a bluesky worldhouse roof, but this was a dream of the far future.

Earth Sun L1 point - A massive power swarm, now sequestered by GAIA Herself. Off limits, like Earth itself.

Near Earth asteroids - Many collected in the L4/L5 Cislunar points, and others in the Sun/Earth L4/L5 points a hundred million kilometres away. Imports of volatiles, exports of metals, carbon, power.

Earth Sun L2 point - Spaceport and trade centre, heavily defended by laser and slaved AI gunships. One of the busiest volumes in the Solar system as the convergence of several low energy tramlines. Routes to Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are important. Slow tramcraft travel these routes, taking years to reach their destination, and are vulnerable to pirates and buccaneers.

Mars - This world had been almost completely depopulated during the Technocalypse and its aftermath, but new colonies have been established, and terraforming efforts have been resumed. Mars was short of volatiles, especially nitrogen and water. Some photovoltaic and fission powerplants had been established, allowing some high tech industry. Several huge pressurised bubbles and low house roofs provided living room, which remained the most valuable commodity on Mars. Some agriculture was possible, a few unmodified species of Earth food crops could be grown here as well as many new varieties. Mars would never be fully terraformed and already many ex-Genetekkers (mostly Sea of Chi moderates) were altering themselves to tolerate existing conditions.

Martian Trojan Asteroids- Self sufficient in metals, carbon, volatiles and power, the habitats here were hungry for territory, and many of the cultures established here were aggressive expansionists, by fair means or foul. Ships entering this region were routinely armed.

Main Asteroid Belt - Many different factions were mining and colonising these rich but widely spaced objects with independent power structures based on Ceres, Vesta, Juno, Pallas, Kleopatra, Eugenia, Siwa and so on. These had diverse multiclade populations in the tens or hundreds of millions, including many provolves, tweaks and feral vecs. Many asteroids contain water ice, and the Belt traded with Mars and the rest of the solar system selling volatiles to the inner system. Imports included antimatter for use in interplanetary spacecraft and defence, and hitech commodities from Cisluna, including blue goo. A small but significant number of starships were built in the asteroid belt at this time, boosted by boostbeams from Jupiter or Saturn and fuelled by antimatter/fusion drives. Piracy, claim jumping and territorial wars were common, but the asteroids are distant from each other so conflict was a sporadic, drawn out affair, often relying on surprise and treachery. Most ships were armed in the Belt in this era.

The Jovian System - The huge, powerful Gengineer Republic was dissolved after the many attacks on the hundreds of habitats and dozens of moons in the system during the Technocalypse. However the population of the orbiting worlds slowly recovered, and only a handful of the old habitats were completely destroyed. ExGenetekkers, mostly Mutationists, were still common, but the habitats were becoming more cosmopolitan, allowing various nearbaseline, space adapted, augmented or cyborgised human groups and families to integrate into the worlds. Europa in particular was badly hit, and no contact was allowed with this world at this time, which contained a hidden clade of water adapted humans that would not be discovered until 1022 AT. Heavily tweaked beings, superiors, and cyborgs were also moving into the damaged habitats and depopulated moons, particularly Ganymede. Those ex-Genetekkers who declined to participate in this new cosmopolitan lifestyle were constructing a fleet of starships to take them to colonies such as Frog's Head, Arcadia, Dionysos and Penglai. Interstellar craft are launched using boostbeams, which could also be used in defense.
Exports: deuterium, He3, volatiles including water and nitrogen, magnetically derived power. A wide range of elements were available from the Io strip mines.
Imports: Antimatter for weapons and starships from the inner sphere, high technology from Cisluna, including blue goo.

Jovian Trojans - Anarchic privateer and cyberpunk havens. Rich in volatiles and resources.

Saturn - An early centre of recovery from the Solsys Dark Age, with large and growing populations in the atmosphere of the planet, in orbitals, and on the many moons. In the depths of the Dark Age the orbital habitats began to grow a network of trade and communication under the subtle guidance of the New Antioch habmind. By the 9th century, nearbaseline and ai missionaries and diplomats from New Antioch have expanded this to include some, though not all, of the orbital hab societies, especially nearbaseline, spacer tweak and bonobo provolve groups, and this network has come to include many of the bubblehabs in Saturn's atmosphere and various habs based in and on Saturn's moons. Meanwhile, in parallel, several metapolities uniting Saturn's bubblehabs have become influential. Most of these, such as the Sons of Kronos (diminished in relative power in recent decades), the Warriors of the Western Stream, and the Han Hegemony have a core leadership of enhanced superbright nearbaselines, or in the case of the Sons, cyborg superbrights. 'Ethnic' bubblehabs and orbitals descended from humans who left Old Earth before or during the Great Expulsion are still quite common, though some have diverged greatly from their originals over the years. In the deeps of Saturn's atmosphere the reclusive Dropout societies such as those of the Laputans and Valinoreans retain an isolationist stance and are known only through their influence on the lesser bubblehab societies. Rianth societies are fairly common everywhere, the most notable being the Dogfolk. There are significant societies of provolves, chiefly bonobo, chimp, or pig provolves. A clade of feral vecs has taken over Iapetus. Everywhere in and around Saturn, virtual and ai entities are increasingly a part of regular society. Though many ais were and are purpose-built and remain in restricted roles the general purpose superturings and a few of the (still unrecognized) hyperturings are gaining influence as communication between habs becomes more common and a new interhab localnet develops. On Titan, the Cishp are a dominant presence. There, in cooperation with scholars from the orbitals, they have found mysterious traces in the surface ice that indicate some ancient pre-Terragen occupation of their moon.

Uranus - Many populated moons, mostly space-adapted humans and superiors, cyborgs, bioborgs, bonobos and a few renegade Genetekker polymorphs. Titania was off-limits, as it was suspected to be the home of a mysterious rogue AI.
Exports: deuterium, He3, magnetically generated power, water from the rings as propellant mass; Miranda had a metal industry but otherwise many heavy metals imported from Asteroid belt; antimatter was imported for defence against Neptunian Trojan Raiders.

Neptune - Three populated moons, rich in volatiles. Some augmented AI clades and hive minds, cyborgs, feral vecs, space adapted humans, and haloists. Imports as Uranus; exports of nitrogen and He3 very important.

Neptune Trojans - Rich oortean asteroid field suffering from overpopulation after a long isolation thanks to a largely successful attempt to avoid the Technocalypse. The Trojan Raiders sought heavy metals and antimatter deep into the system.

Kuiper Belt - Many isolated, fusion-powered colonies in sporadic contact with each other and with the Solar System. Capital Pluto/Charon. Deep rivalry between Ixion and Quaoar has existed for centuries. Most locations were not touched by the Technocalypse, but a few were totally destroyed, increasing the outer belt's tendency towards isolation. Trade with the inner system was very limited.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 29 November 2008.