A potential timeline for a story…
2050 – First lunar settlement established to mine HE3 to fuel fusion reactors on Earth. Development of advanced superconductors and SPS systems to replace increasingly expensive and unobtainable oil.
2052 – First asteroid capture mission.
2053 – UN Reconfiguration. First-World nations take control; votes allocated according to Republic of Gondor rules – each nation gets a percentage of the votes in proportion to their contribution to the total budget.
2054 – Mars colony established.
2054-2230 – Massive expansion into space. Settlement of asteroid mining stations in the belt, gas giant mining stations in orbit around Jupiter and Saturn and establishment of heavy industries in space. UN becomes de facto political authority in space; its rule is contested, often sharply, on Earth itself.
2231 – Hawkins Warp Drive is successfully tested by a UN-funded research laboratory. First prototype can fly 10C.
2232 – 2540 – Humanity spreads out 1000LY from Earth. Hundreds of colonies established; some nationalist, some corporate and some religious. The UN funds colonies for rogue groups on Earth, shipping them away from the planet where they will no longer harass the central government. Earth itself tends to slip towards a cultural unity, with food and basic necessities provided by a central government.
2541 – First Contact. The Garyan, a peaceful race, are encountered by UN survey ships. Once the language barrier is cracked, diplomatic relations are established quickly between the two races.
2543 – The UN is reconfigured (again) as the Federation. Individual star systems have autonomy within the Federation, but certain powers – including defence and diplomatic relationships with alien races – are reserved to the Federation. Importantly, votes within the Federation are based on population size, rather than financial contributions. The Core Worlds, with populations numbering in the billions, tend to run the Federation to suit themselves.
2544 – First Contact with the Keya, a primitive race of roughly 1800s technology. The Federation bans all further contact, choosing to allow the primitives to develop at their own pace, rather than interfere.
2557 – The Teller Intervention. Officially, the Federation Navy is authorised to remove an autonomous government on Teller for unconstitutional acts; unofficially, it is an act of legalised bullying by the Core Worlds. Teller’s government’s crime (in the eyes of its supporters in the Rim) was standing up to Core World corporations that wanted access to rare minerals and ores within Teller’s jurisdiction.
2557-2632 – The political division within the Federation continues to widen, separating into two factions: Core Worlds and Outer Worlds. The Outer Worlds see the Federation as the tool of the corporations, often passing laws that seem designed to please corporate or ideological interests, rather than meeting genuine needs – or, for that matter, with any form of consultation of those affected. Small rebellions become increasingly common, with polarisation affecting even the Federation Navy.
2633 – First Contact with the Jakariah, an aggressively expanding race bordering on Federation territory. Not all of the contacts are friendly; several small human colonies are attacked by the aliens, apparently because they settled within alien territory. Discussions between the Federation and the Jakariah Empire finally reach agreement on a shared border, but raids continue.
2633-2670 – Cold War. The Federation Navy reluctantly starts preparing for war, following increasingly aggressive raids by Jakariah ‘renegades’. The Outer Worlds believe that the aliens intend to invade (they’re the ones on the border), but the Core Worlds are much less inclined to view the aliens as a threat. Indeed, they even pull the Federation Navy back to avoid ‘provoking’ the aliens.
2671 – The Jakariah War begins as alien ships swarm across the border and launch an invasion of Federation space. Their advance is barely halted (as the Federation Navy is out of position) until the Battle of Mimic, where an outnumbered and outgunned Federation Navy squadron fights a desperate delaying action until reinforcements arrive. Already, however, fifty-seven human worlds had fallen under alien occupation.
2672-2752 – The war seesaws backwards and forwards until humanity manages to gain an advantage under the command of the ruthless Admiral Quintana. A major alien thrust is cut off and destroyed by the Federation Navy, followed by a series of deep thrusts into alien territory concentrating on destroying their shipyards and industrial base. Although there is much hard fighting to be done, the Federation appears to have secured a certain victory.
2753-2755 – Aware of their weakness, the Jakariah sue for peace. The Federation accepts, despite pleas from the Outer Worlds to finish the job and prevent the aliens from posing a threat ever again. The peace offer is a trick, however, and the aliens use it as cover for a strike aimed right at Earth itself, the heart of the Federation. Largely demobilised, the Federation Navy is unable to prevent the aliens from landing several heavy blows on Earth before beating them off.
In the aftermath of the battle, Admiral Quintana leads a military coup against the civilian government, citing the government’s failure to protect Earth and its willingness to fall for an alien peace proposal that was nothing more than a trick. Although there is some resistance and protests, there is no major uprising against the military government – and indeed the protesters are often met and beaten by refugees from the strikes on Earth.
2756-2798 – The Federation Navy slowly rebuilds its forces to the point where it can carry the offensive deep into enemy territory. This time, there are no half-measures; the Federation Navy is quite willing to bombard enemy planets that refuse to surrender. Eventually, the alien homeworld is surrounded and bombarded into submission, ending the war. Thousands of alien renegades escape, some heading deeper into unexplored space, others trying to fight an insurgency war against the Federation. The surviving alien worlds are placed under permanent technology restrictions, preventing them from posing a threat within the near future.
2800 – With the Federation slowly demobilising after winning the war, the military government – headed by Admiral Quintana – starts the process of creating a new government. Throughout the Federation, the only people allowed to vote and stand for office are those who have served for at least two years in the military, with currently-serving military personnel barred from voting or serving along with civilians. The decision provokes mass protests on some parts of the Core Worlds, but the protests are generally ignored (with a handful of the ringleaders rounded up and sentenced to penal colonies). The Outer Worlds (with a much higher percentage of veterans) tend to accept the new status quo.
In the course of the military government, tight links were established between the military junta and the corporations. The military’s command over procurement allowed the corporations to produce far more military material than during the pre-coup government’s period in office. Over the years, the links have become tighter, with the corporations funding candidates for office within the new government and – subtly – dissuading their employees from attempting to join the military.
With large numbers of military personnel released to the voting pool, the new government sponsors the creation of new colonies. Some of these are on worlds colonised by the Jakariah, leading to tension between the old and new colonies. Others are deep-space colonies that serve as recruiting grounds for the Federation Navy.
(The main difference between this regime and Heinlein’s Starship Troopers utopia is that the government has no obligation to accept everyone who wants to join the military/federal service. The military can effectively cherry-pick from the best candidates, often those who come from the Outer Worlds rather than the Core Words.)
2801-2907 – The new government slowly starts setting its own precedents. Many of the newly-selected Senators are/were senior military officers, ones who have earned the respect and trust of their subordinates. It is noteworthy that bad officers (regardless of the opinion of their superiors) rarely get elected. Over the years, the unspoken qualification for governmental positions becomes active military service in a commanding role, with few Senators having served at ranks below Commodore/Colonel. A handful of Senators are actually reserve officers, who are still – technically – liable for being called into service. Several manipulate their positions to gain commands after their term of service ends.
This pushes the Federation into massive expansion. Millions of unsettled (and disenfranchised peons from the Core Worlds) are pushed into emigrating to new colonies, which in turn produce yet more demand for expansion. The next contact with a hostile alien race leads to a Senator deliberately provoking a war so that he can win personal glory. This process continues rapidly, with an almost uncontrollable expansion rate. The corporations follow in the military’s wake, picking up the pieces and restructuring alien governments to allow for massive exploitation.
2908-23 – The expanding border of the Federation washes over the Jokari, an expansionist race with a surprisingly advanced technology. The Federation Navy is beaten back in the first confrontations, with an alien thrust stabbing deep into the Federation. Amid general panic, a young Admiral – Admiral Sultana – takes command of the reinforcements and launches a counterattack that defeats the aliens and allows the Federation to drive on their homeworld and occupy it. Although she is young (and technically still on active service) the Admiral has no difficulty in being elected to the Senate.
2945-2965 – An insurrection blazes up within a largely corporate-controlled section of the Federation. The Federation Navy successfully occupies the rebel planets, but is largely unable (at least at first) to hunt down the rebels, who have turned into pirates with starships and hidden bases. Eventually, Admiral Sultana takes command and is successful in defeating the insurrection, both by exterminating unredeemable pirates and settling redeemable ones on new worlds without corporate inference.
2965-2980 – Although she is a military hero, by intervening against the corporations Admiral Sultana has earned their wrath and they start covertly sponsoring her opponents in the Senate, with the net result that her proposals don’t get through so easily. Eventually, Admiral Sultana allies with the up-and-coming Commodore Griffin and the long-standing Port Admiral Featherstone and forms what is, in effect, a triunmvite that allows all three of them to dominate the Senate.
First contact with the Yalaman Empire seems to allow the threesome a chance to win even greater glory for themselves. Commodore Griffin takes command of a formidable Federation Navy fleet and sets out to subdue the Yalaman Empire, eventually defeating their last fleet and occupying their worlds. In the meantime, however, the threesome has fallen apart with the death of Port Admiral Featherstone; the Port Admiral, intent on securing military glory for himself, attacked an alien race that proved to be alarmingly capable of fighting back. Port Admiral Featherstone’s death ensured that the threesome was disgraced (despite Griffin’s immense victories) and comes apart. Admiral Sultana, suspicious of her young former ally, allies herself with the conservative factions in the Senate…
(All comments welcome, but please read the About page before proceeding…)