[also posted to rpg.net]
The year is 250 SE (socialist era) (or AD 2167 in the old, bourgeois dating).The Federation of Socialist Friendship (FSF) dominates the earth and space, following the collapse of the imperialist west in the 70s SE (1990s), and is itself dominated by the Soviet Union, reformed by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 60s-100s SE
The USA is a declining state, still clinging precariously to its outdated imperialist-capitalist dogmas. Its main ally is Canada, along with some Latin American states and Australia. It survives mainly due to superpower rivalry between the USSR/FSF and China, and its nuclear arsenal. Both find the existance of the USA useful in their geopolitical tussles. Western Europe has been absorbed into the FSF as a number of Socialist states. The African Socialist Union rules Africa from its capital in Addis Ababa. The nations of the middle east are allied to the FSF. Most of South and South-East Asia is dominated by China, the FSF’s only real rival (and nuclear competitor).
Dominating earth orbit is the massive FSF orbital complex Lenin-Gorbachev, the HQ of the FSF fleet and administrative capital of the non-earth FSF in the solar system. The Chinese have a smaller orbiting complex, the Chairman Mao Zedong. The solar system is exploited by both the FSF and China, and there have been several stand-offs in the last few decades (none of which have thankfully resulted in a shooting war).
68 years ago, FSF scientists developed a practical hyper-drive, exploiting holes which had been exposed in the theory of relativity. China soon reverse-engineered the drive, and a new extra-solar space-race began. Dozens of colony worlds were established, and soon great quantities of extra-solar resources were pouring into earth.
The strains were showing, however, and in 225 SE, 14 colony worlds revolted from the FSF, arguing that they should decide what was done with their resources. After a short civil war (and some humiliating defeats for the FSF: it is rumoured that the Chinese gave the rebels help), the Out-worlds treaty of 228 SE established the Out-world Union, independent of the FSF. These planets have developed into more democratic states than FSF or Chinese colonies, although they still have socialist economies. The FSF, China and Out-world Union have all started new exploration programs, and the total number of colonies and Out-world planets number in the hundreds.
Both the FSF and China have so-called Gulag planets, where criminals, dissidents and other undesirables are exiled. Whilst not as notorious as the early Gulag camps on earth, in the 1st century SE, these are still tough planets to live on and are dominated by gangs and mafias.
The FSF and Chinese both maintain large space fleets. The pride of the FSF fleet are the Kutuzov and Zhukov class dreadnoughts, whilst the Chinese have the Zhou EnLai and Long March class Battleships. Although the USA doesn’t have much of a space fleet as such, its massive Yankee Clipper class merchant transports are important in transporting goods, especially to and from the Out-world Union. In addition, they are rumoured to support the Freebooters, pirates in all but name.