The Arcturian Timeline

This is a broad overview of the future history used by all the stories in the Arcturian timeline.

2050 The fools’ war, where a well-known democratic country manages to nuke themselves, twice, by mistake in the space of an hour. This permanently detaches the Florida Keys from the mainland, and removes the Northeastern corner of Seattle, converting Puget sound into the Puget lagoon.

 2052 In Europe the astronomers, lead by Craig (long baseline) Turner have developed the technique of “Flash differential observation” to the point that they now have fuzzy images of potentially Earthlike exoplanets orbiting nearer stars.

2054 The Europarliament votes funds to build five starships which will attempt to terraform the discovered planets. The colonists will travel in suspended animation in tanks of liquid nitrogen, and journey times of up to 200 years are expected. The passenger lists are packed with the families of EEC bureaucrats and hangers-on who want to escape Earth when the oil runs out, or when the anti-technology movement comes to Europe. There are too few people to do the work at the other end, and the project is doomed from the start.

2059 A young science graduate called Genevive Powell becomes a TV presenter.

2061 Craig Turner is appointed advisor to the starship project. But together with Lise Schmitt and Egil Lund he has founded the “Stockholm Group” – an organisation of dissident scientists opposed to EEC policy.

2062 Turner and Powell meet in Rotterdam, Powell becomes a critic of EEC policy, and says too much on her technology show. She is arrested, convicted on a fabricated murder charge, and publicly executed by lethal injection.

2064 The starships are ready. Powell’s execution was faked, and she demands a starship from the EEC as the price of her silence. She takes the entire Stockholm group aboard the Hope and they leave for Arcturus.

2070-2130 Growing disillusionment with technology and increasing population pressure cause “The Great Breakup”, the population plummets, record-keeping almost stops, and humanity enters a dark age.

2200 The beginning of the “Age of Three Empires”. North and South America are united under one government sitting in Washington. Europe and Africa unite in the same way, as do Asia, the Pacific rim and Australia.

2297 The Boundary War. A series of boundary disputes escalate into a small-scale war between the empires which simmers on for several years.

2298 The starship carrying the Stockholm Group reaches Arcturus. Leaving most of the passengers suspended Turner, Powell, Schmitt and Lund begin observations. The planet turns out to be useless for colonisation but Arcturus itself is behaving is a very curious way – the astronomers can make no sense of this until Genevive suggests the correct explanation. Natural teleportation is taking place within the star, matter is moving from one place to another without passing through the intervening space. At first the other three don’t believe her. But she begins tinkering in the ship’s workshop and finally performs the classic demonstration, moving a test object (a gin and tonic, with ice & lemon) from one bench to another.

Genevive has discovered the “orthodynamic” effect, as big a step-change in physics as either relativity or quantum mechanics. The Stockholms now have teleportation, almost unlimited free energy, and a Faster Than Light drive.

Genevive takes the ship back to Earth, and drops out of orthosopace just as the boundary war goes nuclear. She sends a radio message announcing the discovery of FTL. Euro-African empire claims it as theirs and orders her to land, America and Pacific see this as a threat. America fires a missile at the ship, Genevive reengages the drive and outruns the missile.

2299 Using the FTL capacity the Stockholms identify nine potentially habitable planets in the general direction of Arcturus. These ultimately become the nine worlds of the Confederation. This is the beginning of the Arcturian Colonial period.

2304 The population limiting treaty ends the boundary war on Earth.

2313 Craig Turner marries Genevive Powell, founding the “High Arcturian” dynasty.

2318 Terraforming of Homeworld has advanced to the point that it has a breathable atmosphere.

2360 Colonies are now established on all nine planets. The Confederation builds the ships that are the beginning of Space Fleet, and goes to look for the rest of the human race. All four other colonies have survived, but are living under brutal conditions.

2362 The “Wynne Incident”. Two ships go back to Earth to attempt to reestablish contact. Earth’s military open fire on the ships. A young female midshipman, “Wynne”, brings one back single-handed, the other is lost. This incident is later used as the basis for Hermann Inger’s opera, Fire in the Sky.

2364 The protocol of interstellar law is written. This offers limited access to FTL travel to planetary governments who sign – at the cost of their signing away a lot of their rights. This guarantees Arcturian military and economic ascendency. Arcturus begins to terraform new planets and colonise them by offering free passage from Earth. The protocol also breaks up the repressive regimes on the old colonies.

2385 Repeated treaty violations lead to the outbreak of the Census war.

2401 Hong Kong Stellar colonised by evacuees from South China.

2420 Census war ends due to lack of resources to keep it going. Boundaries realign into six empires: North America, South America, Europe and Russia, Africa, Asia, Pacific. Colonisation and terraforming accelerates.

2540 Long War breaks out between six empires. This goes on for over sixty years and comes close to destroying the planet. Population falls to around eighteen million. Some very nasty weapons and interrogation techniques are developed.

2602 Nominal end of the Long War. No formal peace treaty – just nobody much left to do any fighting. From the rubble arise the city states and alliances. Eastern Seaboard is now Atlantis, West Coast is Republica, midwest is a radioactive slagheap.

2809 Thursday, May 21st. Jane Gould born.

2826 Peter Dean deserts from Space Fleet and kidnaps Jane. Jane joins Space Fleet as a cadet, advancing to midshipman on her 17th birthday.

2830 “Run from the Stars”