In 2068, the interplanetary pharmaceutical giant WhitakerPorterRoberts introduced the AmbiStem life extension system. WhitakerPorterRoberts had risen to interplanetary prominence over the prior twenty years through their introduction of drugs designed to offset the effects of life in low gravity. But AmbiStem would cement their position as one of the most important pharmaceutical companies of the local space era.
Ambistem was a three part system. The first part was a patented cocktail of carefully programmed cells and retroviruses, injected into the patient at several locations throughout their body. The second part was a serum bath of nutrients and chemicals to support major tissue regrowth and provide fuel for the injected cocktail. The third part was a physical tank that housed all the equipment while providing a fully immersive VR experience to the patient during the week-long procedure.
The result was that a seventy-year-old man could be placed into the tank, and come out a week later as a twenty-year-old man. AmbiStem changed the game for everyone, and ripple effects from its creation would be felt for centuries to come.
At first, the device existed only in limited circulation and access to it remained available only to the elites of society.
However, as time went on, the technology began to spread. In 2077 the Martian Socialist Republic voted to add anti-senescence access and treatments to their universal medical access plan and the population of Mars began to explode as the death rate plummeted.
Several smaller Earth nations went the route of Mars, but Earth’s vast population kept fears of mass famine and starvation on the public conscience and prevented widespread distribution.
With governments failing to meet the need, corporations stepped in to fill the void. In 2079, the Second Life Company was established and the first of the New Life Insurance companies were born. Their insurance model was simple: members would pay into a plan, and at an age specified in their contract, the company would pay out the cost of their anti-senescence treatment.
The Re-Life Insurance companies exploded in popularity over the following decades, driving ever increasing adoption of the anti-senescenic treatments and ballooning the population across the solar system as death rates due to old age plummeted.
The system had to absorb the shock somehow, and when it did, the starvation and famine that had long been feared finally began to manifest. In places with abundant resources, such as wealthier nations on Earth, better off colonies in the asteroid belt or the outer system, and on the surface of Mars, things managed to stagger onwards, avoiding a destabilizing resource shortage and keeping their governments functional. However, in places of relative poverty, the situation was much the reverse. The cost of food continued to climb until more and more people were finding it outside their reach.
For a time, starvation edged out old age as the leading cause of death in humans. The last decades of the twenty-first century were marked by one of the few actual increases in the systemwide human misery index in the modern era. Civil wars broke out on Earth as ideologically opposed solutions did battle, and shortages of critical resources were commonplace, leading to mass starvation and breakdowns in the government order.
In 2101, the impoverished outer system colonies declared independence from Earth and Mars. The Gravity War would rage in space for nearly fifteen years and leave ten million dead before the Tartarus Accord’s legitimacy was accepted and peace finally returned.
The next hundred years would continue to see piecemeal adaptations of the AmbiStem system, as well as the introduction of several competing anti-senescence product lines based on cybernetics and nanobot treatments. The number of immortals remained small compared to the total human population, but as they kept getting older, their influence kept climbing. Concerns of nepotism began to circulate through the younger generations as organizations calcified around a core of immortals.
Thanks to Mars’ early adoption of universal anti-senescenics access, their population soared rapidly, reaching 1 billion by the year 2120. As the population of Mars grew, large segments of the population began migrating up from the surface to the cloud of habitats and colony megastructures in orbit.
Earth, however, continued to struggle. Climate change was resurfacing the planet, resulting in mass displacement and collapse of agriculture. The dry tropics became hellscapes as daytime temperatures soared. Coastal regions drowned beneath the encroaching seas. Formerly fertile farmlands turned desolate, their topsoils drying up and blowing away. Despite the massive unrest, the population of the Earth continued it’s uncontrollable climb, crossing fifteen billion by 2100. The United Nations continued to accumulate political power as governments collapsed under the stress, stepping in to fill the void left by the imploding nations.
UN Orbital infrastructure always seemed to lag behind the pace of Martian development. Despite having more resources and industry in an absolute sense, inefficiencies and disruptions in their process meant that a smaller percentage of those resources could be thrown into large orbital construction projects. Orbital habitats and colonies were built around the Earth, but they tended to be luxury facilities catering to those who could afford them. On the ground, the situation continued to deteriorate. It would take until 2175 for the situation on Earth to begin stabilizing around eighteen billion people.
The Tartarus Accord largely ignored the anti-senescenic technology, but the Accord’s relative initial poverty compared to Earth and Mars effectively limited access to only a handful of their society’s very rich. This would begin to change piecemeal in the second half of the twenty-second century as various Tartaran nations began experimenting with wider adoption schemes. Despite this, the immortal population in the Tartarus Accord remained quite small during the run up to the twenty-third century.
As the twenty-second century drew to a close, the uncontrolled climb in the human population began to stabilize, with birth and death rates finally beginning to equalize around the new post-senescence equilibrium. The development of the warp drive threw one more wrench into this balance. As the sudden and drastic reduction in travel times once more transformed society, another spike in birth rates propagated through the system.
As these children grew up in a strange new world of FTL technologies and day trips to other planets, the human culture began to shift towards a more cosmopolitan footing. The Lightspeed Generation saw things differently than those that had come before them. The sense of nearness that the warp drive created solved conflicts that had plagued the prior generations. This was not without the friction of violence, indeed the nearness initially created a tremendous pool of hostility, and it seemed to some like war was only days away.
But as the new equilibrium settled into place, the conflicts that had been largely theoretic due to the distances coalesced into the physical world, did battle for a time, and were resolved. A systemwide culture slowly began to emerge from the throes of cultural conflict, one very different from those that had come before.
Systemwide Census 2210
Total Human Population
Generational Percent of Population by Age
<10 : 9%
11-25 : 17%
26-40 : 14%
41-55 : 13%
56-70 : 12%
71-85 : 11%
86-99 : 10%
100< : 14%