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This Day in Science Fiction History: 20 August

Fictional Entry—Thursday, August 20, 2037

The United Nations, faced with the space race and potential militarization of space, passed the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. This treaty set forth several key provisions, including preventing any nation from claiming possession of celestial bodies.

By 2015, the private space industry was growing rapidly. Several private U.S. companies lobbied the United States Government for clearer rules on the use of space and the moon. This led to the creation of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The law legalized asteroid and lunar mining. Within 15 years, the space industry had become the largest growth sector in the world economy. A new land rush had begun. However, this time, it was not for land on Earth, but for Luna. Several private companies, including Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Artemis Incorporated, had successfully landed on the moon. They began prospecting for ores and water and setting up temporary mining bases.

The first commercial fusion power plant began operation in the later part of the 2020s. Unfortunately, the most useful fuel for this, H3, was almost impossible to find on Earth. In 2031, the shortage ended with the discovery of a massive field of H3 on the far side of the moon. Lunar mining, already important for the orbital construction companies, now became vital for the power-starved Earth.

The moon’s population doubled in less than six months, then doubled again. Construction of new living quarters raced ahead with little concern for safety. Several different techniques for creating habitats were tested out, most unsuccessfully. The most common construction technique involved using explosives to enlarge ancient lava tubes formed when the lunar surface cooled several millennia ago.

J. Hulges Verwell Industies (JHVI), a multinational corporation, developed a new chemical designed to liquefy rock rather than pulverize it as explosions did. JHVI named the chemical cavorite. Successful testing of the process was completed in late 2036. Five other lunar corporations licensed the process and began long-overdue expansions of their colonies.

What was unknown at the time was that cavorite also caused the destabilization of materials at the quantum level, leading to slight variances in gravity. When the companies all began performing demolitions at nearly the same time, these gravitational variations caused the moon’s orbit to shift, as well as fracturing the planetoid. They also led to sizable portions of the lunar surface being pushed away from the lunar core, forming a vast asteroid belt and ring system around Earth.

A moon with parts missing and giant cracks above buildings in New York City
Shattered moon above New York City (© DreamWorks Pictures 2002)

The shift of the moon’s orbit from inward from its original position at 238,900 miles to 119,450 miles from Earth caused earthquakes, huge tidal changes, and volcanic eruptions. These cataclysmic events ended the current age of human civilization.

The Time Machine

Motion Picture

DreamWorks Pictures


This Day in Science Fiction History examines notable events, real and fictional, concerning fantasy and science fiction in various media.


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