2445 The Scum Festival Enters the Mainstream.
For 60 years the *Scum Festival* has been a regular meeting of unregistered space vehicles, of outsiders, harborless vessels, and tugboats with habitat barges. Most people living on these vehicles do not have a residence permit for any space city or station. Many are stateless. Station administrations regard them as criminals or scum. In fact, many of the vehicles are not even allowed to dock at the major stations, let alone at Mars elevator access points. Meeting in empty space is the only way for them to exchange things like spare parts, autofabs, fab resources, and readymade everyday items.
The Scum Festival began as a trade meeting of five barges with tugged habitat containers. Every 25 months during the Mars/Jupiter conjunction the vessels met to trade hardware and food and to talk without light lag. At that time, they talked primarily about existential needs and strategies of how to deal with common problems. Very early on, they also had social and cultural events in addition to business meetings.
The 13th meeting, which at that time was not yet called a "festival", was attended by the meme-slam legend Krex Kabamba. The performance was staged as an underground event, but Kabamba had invited a media team that generated a lot of attention in the inner system. They achieved an integrated ph-value of 15 (that is Percentage Hours market share), which means that the program got an average attention span of one hour from 15 percent of the target group. That was huge, enough to attract 2,000 fans with their own vehicles at the next meeting. From then on visitor numbers and show acts increased steadily. At the 18th festival, a decommissioned troop transporter was rented as the event location. Starting with the 21st Scum Festival the event took place every Mars year, about 23 Earth months.
Today the Scum Festival is a mainstream event. Hundreds of mobile units meet and link up. They are joined by visitors arriving by commercial travel. The number of visitors exceeds the number of scum vessel crews by far. The organizers rent the docks of Sdinhavn, a Norwegian space habitat, as a venue. System-wide known artists perform live and in person. There are many music concerts, media presentations, art projects and interactive competitions.
In addition to passive media: music, film, virtual and augmented reality, sensory links, meme-slams, and walkthroughs, there are multiple formats with audience participation like interactive media, avatar theater, crowd directing, and asymmetric adventures. New stars are born at every Scum Festival. But the un-canned, live mode of the event also makes hyped stars fall when their performance disappoints.
The ISCC, the Inner System Creative Competition, is regularly held at the Scum Festival. Also starting with ScumXXV, the presentation of the MFP Slink Awards (Marktorf Filmkraft Produkktion Sensory Link Award) takes place parallel to the festival. The crème of the Sol system's media stars is in attendance. So, for security reasons the MFP Slink Awards are celebrated at the Sdinhavn Congress Center.
Many news agencies report from the festival. The broadcasting rights are free. Professional and semi-professional slinkers stream around the clock. Millions take part in quasi real time and quasi live. But Slink is not Scum, as they say. A slink stream cannot replace the personal experience. That is why 38,000 visitors still gather at Sdinhavn every Mars year. Admission is limited to 38,000 and the organizers do not want the numbers to grow any further.
The event is financed by catering, merchandising, and performance rights. Visitors must pay for life support and security insurance themselves. Both are included in the accommodation costs at quality hotels. Life/sec packages are available for the other 25,000 who camp in troop carriers for two weeks.
The tickets are also free of charge. One half of the tickets are raffled off and the other half is distributed through CRAP, a leading creative workers' reputation network. People pay horrendous prices on the black market.
2469 500th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing in the Sea of Tranquility.
The first human activities in the decades "after Tranquility" were characterized by few low-flying manned space stations and occasional orbital flights, propelled by large and expensive chemical rockets. Since then, much has changed.
Today, 40 million people live permanently in interplanetary space, on the inner planets and the outer moons. Small "tin cans" have given way to spacious habitats. Megatons of material is sent into orbit by laser launchers and linear accelerators. And the orbital transfer is even more extensive, because Earth and Mars orbit are much closer to each other energetically – and therefore economically – than the planetary surfaces.
The interplanetary economy is thriving. While there are tensions between the system powers there has been no major military conflict in space recently. Earth's self-imposed isolation has been in place for more than 100 years. Initially, the embargo by Earth was dramatic for space stations and habitats, but the interplanetary civilization has come to terms with the situation. The initial shock has long been overcome with the solar system being now independent of Earth. The interplanetary economy is currently in a long-lasting growth phase.
In the previous decade, humanity has made two great leaps forward. Just 11 years prior a spaceship matched the speed of light for the first time in the famous Lighthugger-Flight. And the development of FTL propulsion systems continues to make great progress. The first colony ship with FTL drive has just left the solar system. Only 42 years later, a period shorter than between the sixth and seventh moon landing, the first interstellar merchant ship will set off for the stars.
Not only space travel has changed fundamentally during the 500 years since Tranquility. Humanity itself has also changed. Most people have genetic optimizations: association boosters, IQ upgrades and artificial savant aspects. Nano-implants provide advanced sensor technology, connectivity and data storage, 4-color vision, and multiple parallel thought processes. The biological bodies stay in good health for 150 years and after that there are perfect biomechanical replacements available. In the age of mind-backups final death is rather unusual, because people can continue to live as mech or in a simulation. With countless gene-mods and nanotech, humans have even adapted to life in space, including ZeroG gene hacks against calcium depletion, nanobot-assisted repair of radiation damage, and feet with opposing toes for a life in zero gravity. Yet not all gene-lines are compatible. The human gene pool is diverging.
Earth and the Sol system had great political turmoil in the past. There were wars, crises, and disasters. There were united world governments and political fragmentation. The civilization collapsed and was rebuilt. Yet, there have been enormous scientific advances, the effects of which have also changed daily life. The face of the earth looks different now due to climate change and the rising sea levels. But humanity supported by technology has managed to cope with these challenges. Big problems of the 21st century have been solved. The oceans are now being used as living spaces. Energy is cheap and the earth has just reached a turnaround point from which its ecology is recovering.
The interplanetary civilization has written its own history with religions and ideologies, military conquests and economic conflicts. Great political powers emerged and disappeared: after the isolation of Earth, the Moon/L4/L5 region dominated the system, then the United Mars colonies, later the Ganymede Directorate, and now we are experiencing the rise of the outer system.
The next 500 years will bring as many changes with humanity reaching out into the interstellar neighborhood meeting new opportunities as well as existential risks. The Sol system will be undergoing severe crises, interstellar wars, occupation and liberation, victory and defeat. It will be both, an aggressor, and a victim of conquest. The Sol system will unite and fragment again. Humans will settle other star systems, some of them so far away that they will have an independent future. They will have to find their own ways among other species.
The human sphere will become multipolar other human population centers rising and surpassing the Sol system. And then the new interstellar humanity will be drawn into the dramatic developments of the local sector and will learn that stability is not a given.