"Ever since ancient times, man has looked to the heavens and dreamed of travelling among the stars. The first manned lunar landing in 1969 fired the imaginations of philosophers and scientists alike, but it was another sixty years before humans finally escaped the gravity well of their home planet.... The 2026 manned martian landing proved the feasibility of long-range nuclear-powered spacecraft, and by the end of the twenty-first century humans had succeeded in establishing a self-sustaining colony on Mars.
"The twenty-second century saw a rapid expansion of the human species into the solar system. Excavations of the asteroid belt led to a boom in the world economy, and within several decades the inhabitants of Earth founded outposts on almost every major planetary moon.... In the year 2183, the number of humans living on other celestial bodies exceeded the population of Earth for the first time. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, humans came to call themselves Terrans to identify with their home planet.
"Out of necessity, the Terran colonies beyond the asteroid belt gained their independence from Earth within a few decades after their founding, due to the difficulty and delay of communication over such distances. However, the lunar colonies had always been closely tied to their home planet. In 2219, after a series of high-profile bureaucratic disasters, one lunar colony staged a revolt against the local Terran government. The rest of the colonies joined in, and a major war erupted. Because Earth's space-going military was organized mainly for defending against pirate attacks rather than organized rebellion, the lunar colonies were able to achieve a dramatic victory. The newly-formed Lunar Republic gained its independence in 2221, and Earth, ill-disposed to fight another war so soon afterward, granted Mars independence without much protest a year later.
"For the rest of the century, little conflict was seen among the various solar governments. Although each faction invested significant amounts of money in their respective militaries, the high cost of transporting an assault force across the solar system meant that the various Terran colonies lived with little fear of foreign attack....
"But the discovery of subspace in 2291 changed the balance of power in the solar system dramatically. The ability to move from one point in the system to almost any other point within minutes meant that the various militaries were no longer theoretical equals. A state of cold war ensued, leading directly to significantly increased military spending from every faction. Pirate attacks exploded, and incidents of diplomatic posturing became much more prevalent. Some factions grew closer together, in the case of the United Nations of Earth and the Jovian Coalition, while some factions grew more antagonistic, in the case of the Lunar Republic and the People's Republic of Mars. Indeed, in recent years the L.R. and the P.R.M. have taken to attacking each others' supply bases and freighter convoys, and their hostilities show no signs of abating. One wonders whether this open conflict will eventually escalate into a larger war.
"With the solar system seemingly a much smaller place than it was only twenty years ago, the tension between the various factions has heightened significantly. Such is the political atmosphere we find ourselves in today..."
--excerpts from "An Overview of Terran Political Climate Throughout the Space Age" by Michael Ellis, University of San Francisco, February 31, 2311. Unauthorized distribution or publication of this material is punishable under the Copyright Act of 2298.