The Race for the Stars
During the Race for the Stars of the mid 2100’s, large corporations and conglomerates expended vast quantities of resources to travel among the stars and found new settlements to take advantage of the amazing opportunities they expected. Though many of their hopes were not realised, the directors and shareholders of these organisations believed that, if they only redoubled their efforts, the expected returns would materialise. More and more was spent on sending colonists to found waystations that would allow future expeditions to reach further into the depths of space.
Sooner or later, the bubble was bound to burst. It became painfully obvious that investors had been lied to by overoptimistic managers and that the vast sums spent had been in vain. Earth’s economy collapsed overnight and the corporations which survived abandoned most operations outside the Solar System.
The colonies were forced to adapt to the new conditions. They assumed local control and set about fashioning rudimentary forms of government which didn’t rely upon so much upon central control from Earth. Their economies slowly developed, filling out to create reasonably self sufficient settlements to cope with the limited transportation infrastructure. Populations grew from whatever company personnel had been assigned to the planet, along with the limited numbers of travellers and immigrants available. Eventually, occupied space achieved it’s current patchwork status. The government of Earth retains its control over the far flung colonies through a combination of obligations of military service by sector governers and through heavy regulation of jump drives, to ensure the King’s ships are always faster than any foe.