This document consists of two separate but closely related works: the Timeline (this page), and Perspectives.
The Timeline is a general outline of future history, and somewhat conservative and circumscribed in what it offers the reader. The Timeline is meant to be the 'harder' (or more factual/credible) of the two works, in terms of science and predictions. But this also means the Timeline must be more generalized, more risk-averse-- and also peter out entirely as we venture into the deep, deep future, where everything must ultimately give way to outrageous guesswork (partly due to technology advancing to levels indistinguishable from magic, as a famous quote by scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke suggests).
Perspectives takes up where the Timeline leaves off, offering more risky speculation and outright fiction about what the future may bring, than is suitable in the Timeline. Perspectives helps illustrate some of the possibilities implied by the Timeline, as well as how certain select personalities of various periods might perceive (and exploit or respond to) their circumstances. Perspectives includes facts and speculation about mankind's past, as well as its future. Virtually all credible historians and archaeologists agree that there's many puzzles and mysteries regarding our past that have yet to be resolved.
Both the timeline and perspectives take a highly optimistic view of humanity's possible future. This optimism largely ignores or heavily discounts the many threats to humanity's survival and prosperity which currently exist, and appear to be mounting almost by the day. Not the least of the risks sidestepped here stem from the latest findings of SETI and related astronomical research. For it appears most (perhaps even all) technological civilizations in our galaxy destroy themselves not long after they reach our current stage of development. The references supporting this conclusion may be found in my study The rise and fall of star faring civilizations. For my current best recommendations as to how we might avoid a similar fate, please see Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin. For a somewhat philosophical perspective, please see The war for our destiny.
At present all material for 2,600 AD and beyond remains firmly in the province of Perspectives. This is due to insufficient information being available near the dawn of the 21st century to adequately support such detailed deep future speculations in the timeline itself. Thus, everything here post-2600 largely comes from extrapolation of previous trends and storylines contained in pre-2600 material (including both timeline and perspectives content).
Before 2,601 AD...(...in Perspectives)
2,601 and beyond: The biological and synthetic elements of civilization struggle to come to terms with one another, even as stunning advances in technology open up the galaxy to both...
Applied technologies have so far outpaced applied socio-economic wisdom that one result is the greatest disaster in human history. The long running discontent of artificial intelligences with their place in society also erupts now, as they seize the opportunity to restructure civilization more to their liking. Legacy organics resist the changes. Thus begin the Peer Proof Wars.
The Wars end in an approximate stalemate, with both organics and inorganics mostly going their own ways afterwards. Humanity's closest kin of this time regain dominance over the region once comprising Sol system, and undertake an ambitious rebuilding program. However, they are also forced by the same treaties which ended overt hostilities to provide artificial sentients with the same rights as biological and biological legacy intelligences, no matter by whom or what such entities are constructed. One consequence is a greater processing burden on and dilution of the citizen sentients among the organic faction, as they must hereafter provide their own subsidiary agents. In essence, the close families/groups referred to as "Unions" in a previous time are forced to merge into greater single intelligences in order to cope with the new processing duties (the greater percentage biological composition an individual retains, however, the less likely they must endure this melding).
By 2851 Humn controlled space overall is roughly shaped like a great teardrop-- with a large spherical area (averaging 35 lightyears in radius) centered more or less on Old Sol system's original location, and an approximately 50 lightyear long tapering tail extending from the sphere towards the direction of the galactic core.
For several centuries a high tech 'cold war' and 'wild west' chaos rages across vast expanses of space and within periodic boundary conflicts between the virtual realities of organics and inorganics.
After peace returns to humn space (more or less), the fabulously wealthy ER dynasty makes a far future bid for ultimate control over civilization itself, with a race towards the galactic core to lay claim to the greatest treasures imaginable.
Ironically, the only real competition for the prize sought by the 30th century dynasty is an aged married couple equipped with increasingly unreliable 24th century technology, who left Sol centuries before for the purposes of deep space prospecting. To make matters worse for the intrepid couple, they are suddenly caught up in a life-and-death struggle with a dangerous leftover from the Peer Proof Wars; a rogue 27th century AI (unaware the war is over) sent via lightspeed communications to terminate the pair's mission.
The Humn are discovering for themselves one good reason the galaxy hasn't been (and may never be) fully explored and colonized by anyone. The most powerful business corporation ever known is broken by the realization. Other consequences include a new cosmic danger stemming from gamma rays sweeping through inhabited space.
The Humn too are fracturing-- into an even greater diversity of form and nature than before. Progress is made in the purposeful manipulation of time, and all the potential of the field ancients called 'computer science' is finally realized by the Humn.
Time inexorably moves forward for the galaxy and the universe, regardless of the fate of any one civilization or world. Stars die, galaxies collide. Eventually the universe itself winds down.
ATTENTION science fiction writers: One of the reasons I created the timeline in the first place was to help nurture the creation of 'hard' science fiction across-the-board. Nothing so ruins a science fiction novel for many readers as a glaring implausibility, either in terms of technology or a reasonable historical order to events. Even small errors of this sort tend to get magnified with the passage of time-- as can be witnessed in much science fiction written five, ten, and twenty years ago. Plus, the 'harder' or more grounded in real science and history your fiction is, the more truly educational it will be for both yourself and your readers, thus possibly offering us all much more than momentary entertainment: knowledge and ideas which might help everyone exposed to them in all sorts of ways in their own lives and pursuits. So I encourage writers to use this chronology as a springboard from which to launch their own speculative fiction, with perhaps inclusion of a note acknowledging me and my web site where appropriate. Any caveats? Yes. Please respect my own fictional efforts by avoiding more than passing references to my own unique Perspectives characters (J. Staute, Kerri, Cluke, the Pearsalls, etc., etc.). And if such references to my characters are included in your work, please do not make any significant changes to the course of those events specifically depicted here (unless of course your story explicitly describes an alternate or parallel universe or dimension(s), distinct and separate from that portrayed on my site). If you feel strongly that a particular event in the timeline/perspectives requires correction or improvement of some sort, please email me about it -- I often make modifications as suggested by readers. Second caveat? The timeline/perspectives is regularly updated and expanded as warranted by breaking news and ideas and thus is always subject to significant change without warning (though I always strive to maintain as much consistency and feasibility as possible throughout). -- J.R.M.