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PROLOGUE


Despite the grim laws of nature and the effect of human arrogance taking its toll in famine, disease, war and environmental degradation, in the year 2050, the world’s population reached ten billion, and by 2090, had risen to twelve billion. By 2135, with a population of fifteen billion, Earth was now in a state of crisis. Species extinctions increased exponentially and the planet’s ecosystems were at breaking point.

The sick, the frail, the prematurely born and the disabled could no longer gain access to dwindling medical supplies and overextended facilities, so died in their hundreds of millions. Life expectancy dropped to a meagre fifty-six years in even the least affected countries – while women continued to give birth in agony and sorrow.

As the world’s climate became increasingly unstable, and the wealthier nations began to feel the direst impacts, an awareness of the need for global government developed. The United Nations Assembly was transformed into the World Federation of Nations.

Economic and technological aid, together with political incentives, were offered to those countries unable, or unwilling, to introduce population control or effective resource conservation measures. Some resisted what they perceived as interference and closed their borders, nationalising foreign-owned industries in a vain attempt to exclude the outside world. Others saw themselves as powerful enough to defy both the Federation and the inevitable consequences of their actions, so declared war – and solved their population problems by losing.

By the middle of the twenty-third century, the world was finally at peace, but had lost most of its natural forests and other wild places. Humans now numbered a mere three billion.

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