Time & Place
The story is set roughly one hundred years in the future (e.g., 21xx). Space exploration within the local Solar System is now possible. There are routine trips possible between the nearer planets and objects (e.g., the Moon, Venus, Mars, and even some parts of the Asteroid Belt). There are even some settlements on more distant places, such as around Jupiter and Saturn as well as some of their moons, though these are more specialized around research and mining rather than frequent visitation by regular people.
Earth remains the most stable, advanced, prosperous, and populous place in the Solar System. However, poor resource management and unsustainable development practices have led to a degree of strife unprecedented to this point. This is the primary pressure for people to want to leave Earth and settle off-planet, as this is assumed by most people to be better (though, it rarely is).
The population has become more diverse with representation from many backgrounds now in higher places on the global stage. Nations still exist, but with the expansion into space there is more of a cohesive identity on Earth as one larger nation of smaller countries vs. the main identity being solely their nation defined by borders.
While most people that live off-planet still identify with Earth as their home, there is a growing number of people that have either lived most or all of their lives off Earth either on one of the other planets or moons or even on a space station. The shared challenges of this off-Earth living has caused a growing identity to emerge that, while not openly hostile, can appear as a form of resentment when the differences between the two groups are brought to the forefront.
While space travel within the Solar System has become more common, almost routine, it is still an arduous process that requires much preparation. Before anyone is allowed to travel into space for the first time, they must receive a health screening as well as undergo a basic preparation course. These are conducted by the large corporations that handle space travel and freight shipping, which due to their monopolistic hold on space travel, have become immensely wealthy and powerful. The majority of people are ultimately disqualified to enter space for either health reasons or because they are unable or unwilling to undergo the preparation. It is, therefore, considered an elite privilege once someone is qualified to travel. People that are qualified to go are informally referred to as “Spacers” when contrasted with those that are still on Earth. There exists a black market where certifications to travel into space can be forged and many opt to do this, but this often ends in tragedy, either due to being discovered or worse, due to a medical or health issue that should have prevented them from traveling in the first place.
The main space traffic is of a few different forms but mainly exploratory, research, tourism, mining, and lastly the growing trade between the Earth and the various settlements.