Only Superhuman Historical Timeline

This is a conjectural timeline of the 21st-century history leading up to the events of Only Superhuman. Any events or dates not specifically mentioned in the novel may not be strictly canonical and might be subject to change in future works. (Updated February 2018 to refine details and incorporate ideas from “Murder on the Cislunar Railroad.”)


Lunar and near-Earth asteroid mining begin. First permanently inhabited space station in Earth orbit.


The first crewed Mars expedition is launched.

Early stages of global government. A new generation blames nationalism for their predecessors’ inability to solve global crises like the worsening environment, terrorism, genocide, and the like, while the increasing globalization of society demands more global mechanisms for its regulation. The United Nations is strengthened and given some real clout.

More space habitats are built in cislunar space, and permanent settlements are established on Luna.  Those who dwell permanently in space accept the need for genetic and bionic modification to survive, in contrast to the greater resistance to such adaptations on Earth.

First expeditions to Ceres, which soon begins to be mined for its water ice.

A new UN treaty is passed which is designed to restrict imperialism in space while allowing free enterprise.  It prohibits territorial claims, defining all habitats as subject only to UN authority, but allows private ownership of exploitation and development rights.  This is a refinement and reinforcement of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty devised by the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).


January: Eliot Thorne is born on the Vanguard orbital habitat.  He is one of the first children born with germline genetic modifications (mods) to enhance his radiation resistance, stem-cell robustness, sensory acuity, etc.


The UN passes the Restoration Accords, a detailed, long-term plan for healing Earth’s environment.  The plan focusses on population control, including tough birth-control laws and the encouragement of emigration to space.  This last provision clashes with Terran conservatism toward human modification.


The first permanent Martian colony is established, under corporate control, but with UN backing.

The UN passes laws restricting use of longevity treatments on Earth–preserving youth is permitted, but extending the lifespan is not.  This further encourages emigration to space; more Terrans are willing to accept mods if it means living longer.


June: Founding of the Demetria habitat in Ceres orbit

More “mining towns” arise in the Belt as prospectors travel there to avoid competition for Near-Earth asteroids. Habitats are established around Vesta, Eunomia, and elsewhere.

Some space communities begin experimenting with more elaborate human mods.  Vanguard, one of the early adopters, is one of the leading voices behind this movement, but is less radical and more rational than some.


The UN is solidified into the stronger Federated Nations of Earth (including Luna and orbital habitats).


Despite efforts at environmental mediation, global warming causes increasing coastal flooding and loss of arable land.  Cislunar habitats become a major source of food for Earth and provide assistance in the crisis.  Emigration to space begins to accelerate.  Habitats in cislunar space and around Ceres are growing larger, more secure, and more Earthlike, making them safe havens for unmodified humans.


With cislunar habitats taking in immigrants faster than they can build new land, the FNE passes the Space Homestead Act: the government will subsidize any groups wishing to emigrate to Mars or the Belt and assist in construction of habitats.  Along with this come strict immigration laws making it very difficult for anyone to migrate to Earth.


By this point the Molecular Revolution, encompassing profound advances in nanotech and genetic medicine, is well underway.  Since advances in nanotech fabrication and resource-extraction methods have made production costs plummet, industries based on the manufacture of goods collapse and Earth enters an economic depression. Extended longevity adds to the population of unemployed. Conversely, industries in space, based on territorial expansion, energy production and so on, remain relatively viable. Self-replicating robots (auxons) allow space habitats and Lunar and Martian cities to be constructed with increasing speed and efficiency, facilitating the increased pace of emigration from Earth.


In response to the turmoil resulting from the global economic collapse and environmental crisis, the Vanguard leaders decide to send Eliot Thorne and their other successful augmented humans to combat the violent groups. The Vanguardians inspire controversy — though many welcome their help, others see them as extremists themselves and fear domination from orbit.  Also, many feel their confrontational tactics do no real good.


With the chaos on Earth quieted and most of the radical groups exiled to space, Thorne and the Vanguardians get involved with politics, promoting their agenda for the improvement of humanity.  Many of them behave arrogantly and domineeringly, further alienating the people of Earth.  Meanwhile, tensions flare between mod and baseline communities in cislunar space, and the Vanguard tries to mediate.  Many extremist mod groups see them as traitors.

Afraid of domination from orbit, Earth takes action to increase its military presence and political and economic influence in cislunar space and the Belt.  Belt settlers (Striders) protest the FNE’s authority over their habitats, saying that it violates the original treaty’s intent to prevent a single government from controlling space territories.  Tensions become increasingly high.


The surface-to-orbit cold war erupts into open conflict when Ceres and Vesta rebel against Earth’s increasing domination. Many cislunar habitats side with the Striders in what becomes known as the Orbit War. Matters quickly escalate to a crisis point when a mod habitat in the Belt launches an impactor to devastate Earth, and Earth prepares to launch a retaliatory blitzkrieg with its orbital weapons platforms.  A small group of enhanced individuals who act as independent peacekeepers in the Belt, including Yukio Villareal, divert the impactor and persuades the Earthside forces to stand down.

Negotiators including Villareal and Eliot Thorne work out the Great Compromise to end the war.  Earth will get political control of cislunar space, and in exchange will grant full independence to the Belt.  Any cislunar habitats unwilling to live under Earth rule will relocate to the Belt.  This includes the Vanguard.


The new government unifying Earth and the cislunar habitats is officially established under the name Union of Earth and Cislunar States (UNECS).


The Belt Consortium largely dissolves as the fiercely independent Striders go their own ways.  Over the ensuing years, different Strider habitats, businesses and groups will often come into conflict, a period known as “the Troubles.”  The increasing advancement of human modification makes these conflicts more dangerous.  The Vanguard, stung by their ostracism by both sides in the Orbit War, choose to remain isolated.  Yukio Villareal and the other freelance peacekeepers, who come to be known as Troubleshooters, try to fill the void, but have trouble coordinating their efforts and goals.

Earth searches for new economic and social systems to replace the ones rendered obsolete by the Molecular Revolution.  The most viable remaining professions tend to be in education, child care, health care, entertainment and the creative arts.  More humans begin dedicating themselves to the physical, mental, intellectual and emotional well-being of others.

Inspired by the growing population of sentient cybers (artificial intelligences), the religious cult known as the Michani is created–they believe that AI is superior and must ultimately evolve into God, and that humans can achieve divinity by merging with machines (technotheosis).


November: Under Villareal’s guidance, the Troubleshooters establish a systemwide guild, the Troubleshooter Corps (TSC), to coordinate their efforts, and a privately funded facility for training new Troubleshooters. Based on the independent Demetria habitat but remaining independent of any state authority, the T-shooters will become increasingly accepted and admired by the Strider community.

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