(aka, the ubiquitous information dump used by lazy writers at the beginning of their novels)
It was a truth universally acknowledged by twenty-first century humanity, schooled as they were in the theories of Einstein and Hawking, that faster-than-light travel was impossible. It was a truth also obvious to twenty-fourth century Earth dwellers, raised to believe in an all-powerful God who controlled his universe through fear and the loathing of happiness.
The space faring peoples who inhabited the rest of the universe, including the humans in the Colonies, not only knew faster-than-light travel was possible, but had been travelling at those speeds for a long time. In some cases, such as those in two galaxies a billion light years from Earth, for millennia. It would also have come as a surprise to God, as she'd been travelling at the speed of thought ever since she'd been appointed, and to the twelve year old girl from Kenya, Tamasha Kent, who designed a faster-than-light engine in 2032 then posted it online.
A year later, the aerospace company Boing-Dougal bought the patent from the girl for $80, promising to develop it in secret. They then whisked Tamasha and her family off to the USA, gave her a fabulous education and, after graduation, a job at their head office in Houston, Texas. They left the design buried in their vault for twenty years, after being bribed with government contracts by the Coffee Party. They feared many Americans would leave Earth to colonise space, leaving the old country to foreigners like the Native Indians, thereby removing the only people who would vote for them.
Alan Radford and Carla Neill were two others who would have been amazed. Alan had not only been removed from his twenty-first century home in England at the age of fourteen and placed on the Starship Atlantic, but had also been sent nearly two hundred years forward in time into the bargain. After two weeks, Alan was sent back home, had a nervous breakdown and wrote a novel. For his second trip, where he provided the sperm for his child via a catheter, he was left unconscious the entire time and knows nothing about it. Yet.
Carla Neill had also been moved, from her twenty-fourth century home in Texas, in space and time, albeit only two decades into the future. She was used then as a mobile womb so she could give birth to Alan's child, Mae Clarke. Carla was then returned to her home and, crying in horror at it all, told everyone what had happened to her. She was promptly arrested as a sinner, operated on by the Inquisition (Texas Branch) and placed on the next convict ship to the Moon where she could join the other members of her family who'd been exiled several years before.
Mae, born on that distant world, was raised by robots and a marginally sane human, her growth accelerated by alien technology. Within six months of her birth she'd attained the physical age of nineteen.
The impossibility of faster than light travel would also have surprised the humans who built and crewed the five Ocean class starships of the late twenty-second century and had then explored many nearby star systems in their faster-than-light ships. Along with the first set of heretics exiled from Earth after the coming of the Theocracies, and a lot of material help from another race and from God herself, they formed Humanity's first colony, based on the Moon.
Since then the colonists have developed their ship's engines, built more and better craft, though based on the same three globe design, and explored many more nearby systems. The original colony expanded and eight more were founded over the next hundred years. They fought three wars against other races, made peace and an alliance with two of them and have a ten year old ceasefire with the third race, the Dagon.
The space between the Colonies and the Dagon Empire is separated by a Demilitarised Zone, referred to by the Colonies as either the DMZ or 'The Zone', which is patrolled by both sides while they try and reach a final peace agreement on a small planet inside the DMZ.
It is here our story begins, and it starts with Carla Neill.
With that, I bid you adieu and I shall see you on Friday.