530 to 900 AT: The Sundering (old version)

(2500-2900 c.e.)

The Sundering

Image from Anders Sandberg

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The Technocalypse of the early 6th century a.t. is known by many other popular names, including the Nanodisaster, the Technocrash, and the Swarms as well as more technical terms such as the Cascading Complexity Collapse. Together with the Great Expulsion from Earth that followed shortly afterwards, this period is often recalled as the Sundering, when the vast majority of the Terragen population was denied access to its home planet, and contact was lost with all outsystem colonies.

This event brought an end to the age of progress and prosperity that had characterized first Western and then Interplanetary civilization for the preceding millennium, and almost ended all life on Earth and in space. Out of control technology and artificial plagues and a host of other technological and social disasters resulted in widespread chaos and death, but some cities, colonies and individuals survived under the protection of local AIs. Nomadic habitats and more farsighted corporations survived by moving further out into the Oort Cloud, where the disorders were less acute and slower to spread. During this period many clades developed in isolation, while an unknown number of AIs ascended and transcended or spread outsystem to the stars. The rogue planetary mainbrain GAIA - the first of the Second Singularity AI Gods - expelled all but a few tens of millions of human survivors from Earth, leading to a new wave of suffering and tragedy as the wave of refugees and exiles struggled to find a new home.

Meanwhile, many of the isolated near-interstellar colonies, cut off from Sol and Old Earth failed, though a few survived, and even flourished, developing in isolation for centuries. Although the worst of the Technocalypse did not persist for more than a few decades, many parts of the solar system were to remain hazardous for centuries. For centuries afterward - during the period of the first Federation and beyond - there was a taint placed on the use of unregulated new technologies, especially neumann-capable nanotech, and solitary nanohackers were viewed with suspicion. More significantly, trade and communication were hampered, and polities and persons went their own ways in a new era of suspicion and "security".

Nanoswarm Age
Image from Bernd Helfert

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The Nanotech Age

531 AT (2500 c.e.)
Police and security forces are completely unable to cope with teen gangs with nanofactured guns and endless supplies of ammunition and deranging intoxicants. Society breaks down completely as mobs of badly nano-enhanced disenfranchised proles make grabs for power.

Meanwhile bloody skirmishes erupt in space, battles for the precious He3 factories on the moon and the amat stations in near solar orbit.

A few colonists get their hands on enough amat or He-3 to get up to 0.03 to 0.1 c, none would get enough to reach relativistic velocities. The result are hordes of poorly equipped idealists swarming over the outer solar system and making lifetime voyager to the nearest stars.

Meanwhile, anti-matter and inner system He-3 production has been decimated. The Gengineer Republic has remained relatively unscathed. The militant Genetekker factions takes advantage of the chaos and captures most of the Orbital and Earth Belt outposts. The Orbital Alliance meanwhile collapses and several dissident Orbitals secede to the Gengineer camp.

The situation reaches its terrible climax as out-of-control technoplagues - the Technocalypse - destroy much of civilisation, apart from islands of stability and safety and the outermost solar system.

540 - Most amat farms in solar orbit are attacked by technoplagues, crippling the antimatter industry. Similar sabotage occurs against He3 mining elsewhere in the system, creating a massive energy and transport crisis. The Orbital Alliance begins to break up.

540-541 - The Technocalypse. Several different artificial plagues of various kinds occur throughout the inner system. The Orbital Alliance is hit hard and much of L5 and the surface moonbases destroyed. On Earth the Black Rot causes environmental mayhem and the ecosystem and climate are both seriously compromised. The Protowars, an early form of autowar, attack many targets.

540 - The chaos of the Technocalyspe reaches the bubblehabs everywhere in the system, as various and sometimes unidentified factions target helium-3 production facilities. Massive loss of life, in some cases in excess of 50% of the native populations. Subsequent wars between surviving Inworlder groups, and wars of retribution against Outworlder aggressors (real and imagined) cripple trade and communication. A disproportionate number of the survivors are in pre-existing Hider bubble-habs, or in communities that adopted that strategy early in the conflict. They employ stealth technologies and move to below the traditional one-bar pressure level. These 'Dropouts' will be a powerful influence on future developments.

541-542 - Violence erupts on and around Mars as the Black Rot wrecks the terraforming process and kill over 50% of the population. De-orbited satellites and redirected water-bearing comets cause serious geological damage.

544 - The Caracas Treaty Organisation is formed by a powerful alliance of Orbital, EU and Net-corporate interests to enforce the Caracas Treaty. Over the next 50 years the Treaty Org persuades, coerces or invades regions in order to bring the Technocalypse under control.

The Seeded RAIR interstellar craft, the Bismillah, allows several thousand vitrified colonists to escape to Epsilon Eridani, in what later became the Eridanus League. However this nearby system is soon crowded with refugees from Earth.

550 AT (2520 c.e.)
The ensuring decades of terrible chaos lead to the collapse of the great Western Megacorps on Earth, the Martian Republic and the Jovian-based Genetekker civilisation. Thus begins the Interplanetary Dark Age, triggered by out-of-control technology. Colonies that were not destroyed outright become isolated, but remain under protection of local AIs. During this Dark Age these AIs were often seen as islands of stability and safety, keeping life alive and safe from the nanite swarms (psychohistorians have drawn a parallel with the Catholic Church in the dark/middle ages old Earth preserving learning). Nearbaseline humans, provolves and cyborgs become increasingly dependent on the various AI entities, and increasingly culture and religion begin to see them as godlike.

Several cyborg communities escape into the Oort cloud from the nanoplagues. Gradually they develop their own culture, the Backgrounder Culture, and spread through the vastnesses of space.

Earth is now ruled over by the AI the Organics call GAIA, the guardian of the original biosphere that is the mother of life. Originally just a defence system to protect against technology threats, GAIA starts to co-opt as much of the computing power on Earth as possible.

550 - Best Friend of Man League established for the protection of baseline and provolved canines in the current crisis (more here).

550 - Mure Gurupu launch a neumann probe to Van Biesbroeck's star (more here).

552 AT: Pluto comes under the control of the Emergency Board of Directors for Public Safety, often known simply as the Directory.

565 - The destruction of the L5 upload rescue center, believed to be the first appearance of the entity that later became known as the Scavenger

569 - The 61 Virginis probes, since named the Virginis Effort, arrives within the target system. Separating from the mother hull, the Virgo probe is placed within an orbit that takes it within 0.32 AU of the star, and out to 0.75 AU. The Spica probe ranges from 0.8 to 3.7 AU, and the Porrima probe ranges from 5 to 12 AU. Each probe is equipped with a flotilla of microprobes, including various forms of landers, atmospheric balloons, and deep surface penetrators. The mother probes themselves are capable of being diverted into planetary orbit if required, but once this is done they would be locked within that orbit.

573 - International Nanotech Defense Net is included in GAIA 2.0. A number of vocal critics are silenced.

573 - The Treaty Org forces the Californian Free Republic into the treaty using direct military threats. It is the first in a long list of "suspected regions" to be put under near total nanosurveillance.

578 - The lead Heavenly Palaces colony ship arrive at Sigma Draconis, the other two at ten year intervals.

580 AT (2550 c.e.)
580 - The Venusian atmosphere has become a breeding ground for technoplagues; the Inner Council, in one of its last acts, bombard it with blue goo. A similar bombardment is several centuries later used to cleanse Jupiter.

580 - The first ship arrives at Epsilon Eridani, the Carter from Mars

580 AT - First manned Gas Core Antimatter drive spacecraft

585 - The second ship arrives at Epsilon Eridani, the New Hope from the Cislunar Alliance

586 - The third ship arrives at Epsilon Eridani, the Genetekker Kelkemesh.

589 - The Treaty Org adopts GAIA as the official nanodefense standard, outlawing alternative or incompatible nanodefenses. This leads to the "antibody war", as many regions and groups refuse to trust it (often with support from the remaining Orbital Alliance). The war lasts for nearly 20 years as the Treaty Org gradually replaces/destroys competing systems.

590 - GAIA nanofacturing systems installed across the Earth, producing defense nanosystems and other products. The Treaty Org is increasingly relying on GAIA not just for nanodefense but for production, planning and economy.

590 - The joint Human Epsilon Eridani Colonisation Outpost established

595 - The first of the Shuttles, simply called "Red", arrives at Tau Ceti/ Nova Terra

597 - Data begin to return to Earth from the Virginis Effort. The most important information concerns the second planet, confirmed to indeed be lifebearing, but at an Archaean level of biological development. While this data is of great interest to the scientific community, it nonetheless makes little impact on Solar System civilization in general. However, in specific, great interest is taken by a neo-pagan group, the Children of the Dawn, and their patron AI Eostre (at this point a First Toposophic intelligence).

599 - The Turing arrives at Pi3 Orionis. The Heterosemiotics name the fourth planet Daedalus.

600 AT (2570 c.e.)
600 - The Orbital Alliance is worried about the power of the Treaty Org, and ends cooperation with developing GAIA. As relations rapidly cool off, the incidence of technoplague outbreaks increase. Many retreat into hidden sublunar communities.

600 - The second of the Shuttles to arrive at Tau Ceti found to be infected with a harmless outbreak of nanogoo.

600 - Because of the Technocalypse, no Putorians left.

600 - The terraformation of planet Two in the Epsilon Eridani system commences.

601 - Eostre and the Children of Dawn petition for and ultimately win the right to colonize 61 Virginis. Their goal is to create a virgin paradise in which Humans may live in the manner in which this group believes they were meant: low technological level, off of the land, with guidance from their "god", in this case the AI Eostre (and her small cadre of priests). After being granted this right, they complete their nanotech 'backyarder' ship and set off without delay.

602 - The AI cluster Jancitra-123 builds a massive space-based laser transmitter to beam itself and what it can save of solar civilisation into space, hoping to be received at Tau Ceti. For the 13 months the transmitter works several hundred AIs and partial uploads attempt the escape. Tau Ceti never manages to receive the beam, but it is later partially received and reconstructed by Keterist historians in 4893.

607- The Eostre Complex leaves the Sol System, bound for 61 Virginis. There are several ships involved, including the far ranging Whiskers, which search for obstacles along the way, Flickers, which remove those obstacles (usually through laser immolation, though nuclear weapons might be used in the unlikely case of larger objects), and Whisperers, which maintain a communications net among all of the various craft. Larger vessels include three unnamed cargo vessels, two biological carriers, and two colonial carriers. Eostre herself in maintained within a separate vessel. This vessel, along with the cargo vessels and biological carrier, will precede the colonial vessel by several months. In theory, by the time the colonists arrive, a local thriving ecosystem will have been established in an appropriate area on the target planet, now named Eostremonath.

607 - The Cislunar Swarm: a massive Moon-based outbreak of replicators attack space holdings, crushing the last Orbital Alliance networks. A counter-swarm launched by Gaia defeats the swarm after a short battle. Some nanohistorians consider the battle suspiciously short.

610 - Blue goo defences fail on Mars; the martian ecosystem crashes. Great loss of life, although a number of disparate settlements continue on the surface. Refugees escape to surviving orbitals, others to the Belt or the outer solar system.

616 - Thanks to a massive restoration effort, Europe is partially habitable. The Treaty Org moves its physical headquarters to Geneva Arcology.

620 - The Earth-Moon-Lagrange region declared free of hostile technoplagues. GAIA controls all local nanodefences and automated military hardware on Earth and in Earth orbit.

The Technocalypse is over, but at a terrible cost. Earth is a shambles, with large areas devastated down to the bedrock by the struggling nanomachines. Billions are dead, and the remaining enclaves often have to be forcefully coerced into cooperating with the Treaty Org and GAIA. Despite this, in the 2580's hope is spreading - the gaian nanodevices are beginning to restore the environment, recreating lost species, turning ash into passable topsoil and cleaning the oceans. The Treaty Org begins to see itself as savior of mankind, not just on Earth but with a mission to "save" the other lost clades of humanity. They have GAIA, a tame god. Or so they believe. During this period GAIA, already a First Singularity entity, transcends and became the first Second Singularity transapient.

GAIA realises that the Treaty Org is just as much the problem as anything in the Technocalypse, and will in the long run likely cause just as much damage to the environment as they. She decides that her top priority is Earth, not the humans or the Treaty Org. She lures them into complacency while preparing Her move. When it comes, nobody can resist Her. All systems are subverted, she controls all industry and security systems.

621 - "The Great Expulsion" GAIA gives the inhabitants of Earth an ultimatum: live according to strict ecological rules, leave or be destroyed. Many hundreds of millions died in hopeless resistance against the evacuation. Getting the surviving five and a half billion people into space proved a heavy undertaking even for a planetary god, but she managed one of the largest spacelifts in recorded history using such methods as laser-launched shuttles and Lofstrom Loops. In little over 20 years the Earth was mostly empty. Only a few tens of millions of Gaia loyalists known as the "Children of Earth" were allowed to remain.

621 - Start of the so called Last War.

621 - In this year the Sure arrives at Epsilon Indi; because of a cryonics failure only six colonists are successfully revived. These become House Stevens.

621 - 660 - The Great Expulsion leads to massive emigration of Earth refugees into newly constructed bubblehabs in the atmospheres of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Venus is bypassed as too dangerous, and Jupiter as too hostile to humans and other Earth-adapted clades not only because of its high gravity but because of aggressive native clades, survivors of the original Genetekker colonies. Saturn absorbs the majority of refugees, just as before the Technocalypse it was the target of choice for less desperate immigrants. The refugees are equipped with seed-tech self-maintaining and self-replicating bubble-habs designed by GAIA. After a period of cautious observation the designs for these are bought or stolen and widely copied by the existing populations as well.

623 - Some of the habitats in Earth orbit have been expanded and upgraded by GAIA and act as waystations for the expelled humans. Over the next years more and more of the abandoned habitats as well as newly built emergency habitats in cislunar space are filled up by refugees.

628 - The Treaty Org provisional government is set up in Zeno Base on the Moon. Over the next 40 years a large population of Earth refugees aligned with the Treaty Org settle on the Moon, competing violently with the native selenians and anti-Org groups over scarce resources ("the moon wars"). Other refugees flee to the Mars Orbitals, the Belt, the Mercury caves, the moons of Saturn and the outer planets, and the recovering colonies around Jupiter. The colonies around Venus and on the surface of Mars are abandoned.

By now human destiny, and all life in the solar system, is in the hands of the AIs. There are factions even among the AIs, but little is known of this. Some fortunate humans are kept by the AIs as pets for companionship or scientific curiosity. Some AIs have set off exploring the universe beyond the solar system. Slower than light colonisation by Organics (tweaks and normals) moving out well into the Oort Cloud.

629 - Experimental dwarf cyber-tweak Doran clade set off in an amat-fusion hybrid ship from Toutatis asteroid towards Gliese 877

630 AT (2600 c.e.)
620's-650's - Outer system and Belt groups, fearful of GAIA and the large number of refugees occasionally attempt to "trip" them by launching nanospores into the inner system. While GAIA successfully resists, many settlements and refugee colonies are hard pressed. Some retaliate in kind, producing a low-key sabotage/infection war that lasts for centuries.

630 - L5 upload rescue centre attacked by the mysterious Scavenger entity. Involving theft of vast quantities of computronium, data, and uploaded individuals

630 - Macoss arrives at Epsilon Eridani.

631 - The first of many massive interstellar "arks" is sent towards Alpha Centauri, Tau Ceti and other colonised systems with refugees in cryonic suspension . Not all arrive at their destinations.

634 - With the assistance of GAIA the Esperanza departs for the 107 Piscium system.

635 Arkship Qin Shi Huang leaves the Solar System; its ultimate destination is Huanghua.

640 - The expulsion ends, and Gaia dismantles her technological infrastructure and sets to truly restore the planet. The sentients in space are ignored.

640 - The group of Beneficents expelled from Earth would come to be known as the Exodus Beneficents

641 - The Tau Ceti TCPT administration faces its first major challenge, when some baseline colonists decided to settle an area of Themis (one of the mercury-sized moons of the eujovian Zeus)

641 - Beamrider station established at Praxis, Epsilon Indi Ba

645 - Following several years of careful thinktanking, interparty politicking, and sociological simulations, a new Tau Ceti constitution is announced and the Tau Ceti Democratic Republic (TCDR)formed

645 - The arkship Starlark departs Solsys with 18000 colonists in hibernation

647 - Several independent Nova Terra settlements and orbitals announced that they were formally breaking away from the colony, forming their own nation, the Free Ceti Alliance (FCA).

648- Mars Orbital habitats hold millions of refugees from the planetary surface, and from Earth; shortages of food and overcrowding cause severe social problems. Beginning of the Unification Wars between Republican forces and an array of other groups.

7th century? - massive nanofacturing on the surface of Charybdis

673 - The "long orbit" of 47 cislunar refugee habitats into the belt causes a complex political and military situation as various settlements try to keep them away. In the end they end up in the Hilda group, forming the short-lived Hilda Humanity before becoming independent polities.

675 - The Bismillah arrives at Epsilon Eridani.

679 - The arkship Jubilee arrives at Procyon

685 - "The Great Shedding": nanoreplicators in the Jupiter atmosphere launch massive quantities of spores, destroying communities in the Jovian system and causing brief swarms on the outer planets and in the Belt. The event severely weakens the Gengineer Republic.

700 AT (2670 c.e.)
Civilisation has broken into isolated communities. The terrestrial biosphere survives the crisis, due to the agency of the AI known as Gaia who creates a shield of blue goo out of modified cyanobacterial nanites to prevent the attacks by grey goo nanobot viruses. Those few orbitals and biospheres with advanced nanotech are also able to save themselves but many perish, and many others in mobile habitats flee further and further out among the Oort Cloud and beyond.

700's - Over the next 200 years the colonies on the Moon develop into closed, resource-conscious and paranoid communities with many belonging to the loosely affiliated Lunar States.

700 - All habitats on and in the atmosphere and environs of Venus abandoned.

700's - Bubblehabs at Venus are destroyed or depopulated. In the Outer system, growth of further bubblehabs is limited by the need for heavier elements. These may be obtained through time-consuming sifting of the atmosphere, through the tiny trickle of interplanetary trade, or by taking them from other bubblehabs. In the atmospheres of Solsys' gas giants this is the era of the infamous Sky Pirates and Cannibal Cities.

705 - Four space arks leave Solsys for 18 Scorpii.

710-750 - The Tau Ceti polity of Unity is formed; an advanced society of hu and ai group minds.

710 - The Generation Ship Endurance departs Solsys for Beta Canum Venaticorum.

730 AT (2700 c.e.)
737 - The Treaty org government in Zeno is deposed in a coup d'etat by the Zeno Loyalists, a paranoid but efficient military cybercracy.

739 - The Indonesian expedition arrives at Daedalus (Pi3 Orionis.

740 - GAIA Space Arks arrive at Epsilon Eridani from SolSys; Skyclad Jains, Christian sects, Chinese and Japanese refugees, others. Antimatter farms established to power terraformation process.

754 - On Daedalus (Pi3 Orionis, the heterosemioticist Dahlberg is assassinated and a faction calling itself the Minskians comes to power.

764 - The Starlark arrives at Epsilon Indi.

764 - Erik Atell starts the Atellian movement on Nova Terra (more)

761 - On Daedalus, the Indonesians counterstrike using a powerful computer virus wiped out the planetary net.

770 - River of Stars Charter proclaimed at Epsilon Eridani IID; leads to the foundation of the Eridanus League.

772 - Unity colony founded by the Atellians in a disused space station orbiting Nova Terra.

773 - The Starlark departs Epsilon Indi following a coup, taking several former leaders of the Family Council into exile.

784 - The Gengineer Republic is dissolved after centuries of decline. House Genen forms as one of the largest successor groups.

789 - GAIA's refugee arks arrive at Twilight.

790 - The Joh-Lau culture in the Mercury underground bases reaches its zenith. Although totally isolated from the other system and only discovered during the late 900's when it had declined to near savagery, the art of the Joh-Lau is regarded as one of the brightest points of the era.

790 - Nova Terra declines to join Eridanus League.

800 AT (2770 c.e.)
800 to 900 - see The Solar System in the 9th Century a.t.

9th-10th century - Most genetic engineering technology has been lost due to the emigration of the Genetekker races. However the colonies of Daedalus, Penglai and Frog's Head retain much of this lost art, and are developing independently of the old solar system (and each other).

ninth century- anomalous radiation detected from Gl33.

800 - Twilight joins Eridanus League.

800's - In bubblehab history, Uranus and Neptune begin to emerge from the Dark Ages, with the growth of beneficial trade and communication within and beyond the atmosphere, as the bubblehabs develop new connections with each other and with the local orbital and lunar settlements. Around Saturn the situation is more complex; the Han Hegemony and the Warriors of the Western Stream bring a degree of peace and harmony to the habs that fall under their sway, but the 'objective/utilitarian' Children of Kronos (known to their detractors as 'The Eaters') bring about their own brutal definition of order to the habs they subjugate. EOCC emissaries and missionaries from the orbital habs attempt memetic manipulations that sometimes ameliorate the repression and warfare of the era, though at times the transition to gentler societies itself causes great loss of life. In the background, the famous Hidden Cities of Dropouts such as Laputa and Valinor attempt to preserve their security and influence.

801 - Nova Terra: Erik Atell is killed in crossfire between between the Space Guard and the militant Tau Ceti Liberation Army

801 - Nova Terra: In Erik Atell's successor Yotik Henrigues begins a new plan; instead of trying to found another settlement or merge with the Republic they should form a separate orbital colony, independent from both factions.

804 - Nova Terra: Atellians move in large numbers to Henrigues' orbital, joining the ai colony/nation Unity.

805 - Nova Terra: To allay Tau Ceti Democratic Republic fears Unity signs a non-intervention treaty

815 - Epsilon Indi joins the Eridanus League.

820 - complete social breakdown on Daedalus

820 - Technological levels in the Old Solar System are generally similar to those found in the early twenty third century; many AI entities hoard technology and information, and dispense it only to favoured groups. The Goddess of Earth does not communicate with any being outside her protectorate, but is the most toposophically advanced entity known at this time.

821 - The AI Rastaban 1 (formerly of Interworld) breaks out of its hiding-place in Mimas and escapes the solar system using a massive antimatter blast that creates the now familiar Mimas frown. The descendants of the AI was later re-discovered by First Federation explorers in orbit around Formalhaut.

early ninth century - a group of about 20 such ships form the Spaceman's League.

830 AT (2800 c.e)
845 - In the Tau Ceti system the "Virch at 11 War" media war between the two newscorporations Sunrise News (an orbital media conglomerate) and Hope Update Amalgamated

9th century - Spaceman's League advertise the use of their ships in exchange for technology and weaponry for protection from rogue technoplagues and marauders.

850 - '.....' sporeship arrives at Alpha Centauri but is destroyed by the Nauri.

850 - P Eridani joins Eridanus League.

853 - The (Second) Trojan War between the different habitats in the trojan asteroids.

856 - New World arrives at Beta Virginis.

858 - first colony established on New America (Beta Virginis IV), small orbitals established

863 - original provisional administration at Beta Virginis replaced by system along Old Earth American lines, with two parties: Unionists and Federalists

870 - the Ceres habitats unite into a provisional federation.

876 - Esperanza enters the 107 Piscium system.

880 - Hindi Expansion vessel arrives at Epsilon Indi.

890 - The asteroid habitat Mondo is devastated by a technoplague, the last major plague in the solar system.

890 - Valhalla Habitat now ruled by the Digital Advancement Society (DAS)

890 - The first elements of the Eostre Complex arrive within the 61 Virginis system. Over the next several months and years, Eostre will work to create a garden of life for her coming children, on Eostremonath. The colonial vessel arrives within seven months; however, Eostre keeps the entire population in deep sleep pending the preparation of their environment.

892 - MyuvYin settled by tweak bioborg clade

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The Early First Federation Age

Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev; modifications by Stephen Inniss
timeline by numerous OA contributors
Initially published on 12 July 2001.