Ian  S.  Bott

Writer and artist

How we got here

The events in Ghosts of Innocence take place roughly sixteen thousand years in the future.

A thousand years from our twenty-first century lives, humanity developed practical interstellar travel. Not a moment too soon, the first ships left a climate-ravaged and polluted Earth behind and began looking for new homes.

Within a few decades, the expanding search found planets suitable for colonisation. Not yet truly habitable, they were at least rocky worlds with atmospheres, liquid water, and in stable orbits in their stars' "Goldilocks zones."

The fledgling colonies made extensive use of geoengineering techniques that had been refined over the centuries in desperate attempts to keep Earth itself habitable. Decades of patient terraforming bore fruit three hundred years after the departure of the first interstellar explorers, when the first colonists were finally able to walk freely under alien skies.

Moderately peaceful expansion continued for another four millennia.

But by then, many early colonies had grown strong enough to rival Earth itself, and began to exert not only independence from an increasingly fragile central rule, but desires to establish their own multi-system mini empires.

Good old human nature reasserted itself, and the spreading civilisation disintegrated into a thousand years of vicious conflict. Terraforming was slow and cripplingly expensive, so truly habitable worlds were prized targets. Many worlds lost contact and degenerated to a pre-industrial state. Many perished, unable yet to sustain themselves. Only a few kept both the technological knowledge and the industrial capacity to build starships.

Starfaring society re-grew from these centres, which eventually hosted the ruling Grand Families. The world of Magentis lay in a region relatively rich in habitable planets, and was always the most powerful. Its ruling family established itself as a dominant and stable force over the next eight thousand years.

It is worth noting that at no time did the Earthly explorers discover native life on any planets they visited. All people, plants, and animals, can trace their lineage back to Earthly origins.

Ironically, by Shayla's time Earth itself is nothing more than a little-known legend. Earth's dwindling resources were spent with the effort of supporting those early colonies. Its location was lost in the disintegration and rebirth of interstellar civilisation. Its people have likely regressed to primitive, non-technological cultures if they survived at all. It is out there still, waiting to be rediscovered, just another failed world from before The Collapse.