Creating a fantasy setting demands certain questions: Earth or another world? high magic or low? relative technology level? A sci-fi setting has to ask similar questions. Is this a galaxy-wide space opera, or set on Earth? Is it so far in the future that Clarke’s third law is in full force, or near enough to us that technology is recognizable?
Unlike “How does this spaceship work?”, these generally aren’t questions requiring logical explanations, merely choices made by the creator. In my case, as I mentioned in comments yesterday, I’m being largely influenced by Mass Effect, Neuromancer, and the fantasy setting Eberron for this project — but in the case of these kinds of setting questions, mostly Neuromancer. It has to be far enough ahead that we have this space station, but not so far ahead as to be unrecognizable.
Frankly, if I wanted to create a wide-ranging, multi-alien, very futuristic space opera, I’d write fantasy.
What interests me are technologies we can see looming in our future, with a good mix of “what ifs.”
So, we’re going a couple hundred years I think. Enough that we’re past the singularity to some extent, we don’t really know what technology will look like, but we’re not talking FTL drives, hyperspace, etc. We’re not out of our solar system yet, except for maybe some more probes and a cryo-ship slowly heading for the nearest star. [More on personal technology later.]
I’ve also always had this weird love affair with the idea of a terraformed Mars. (The banner image of this website is in fact a representation of what Mars would look like if terraformed.) But while technology we develop over the next couple hundred years might be able to speed the process, current ideas of terraforming make it an extremely slow process (on the order of thousands of years, if not more). So even with advanced technology, that’s not going to be less than a few hundred. So we don’t have a terraformed Mars yet.
But we could be in the process. So I came up with the idea that Concordia is in orbit around Mars, and Mars is in the process of being terraformed. Mining colonies live there, underground or in domes, but it’s not ready for mass settlement yet. Maybe that’s even why Concordia is there — generations waiting to land.