It was heady times in the middle of the 21st century. In 2031 scientists using the new extra shiny gigantic super collider much to their extremely brief chagrin created a black hole. A tiny naked singularity. In less than a blink of an eye, all that was left was a two hundred yard diameter sphere of vacuum followed by the thunderclap created as the air rushed in to fill it.
The huge chunk of now the missing collider and several very surprised scientists simultaneously appeared in space about 500 miles away from earth. The pieces inexorably pulled back to earth by gravity and guided by the mysterious cosmic forces that seem to be attracted to mobile homes demolished the Happy Acres trailer park in Texas and everything else in the area on impact. How the large pieces of the gigantic collider ended up appearing that far from earth created the infantile glimmerings that you might actually be able to travel through a small and manageable wormhole.
Within ten years the first crude worm drive had been installed into a cobbled together ship, and in five days it hopped its way to Alpha Centauri A and brought back pictures of not one, but five planets. It didn't take long to discover that there were thousands of inhabitable, at least more or less, planets. The first pioneers left earth to find their Edens. These were a hugely varied lot. Religious sects that wanted planets free of unbelievers. Manufacturing, and mining companies that didn't want to worry about cleaning up after themselves. The rich who could own a planet as a vacation home, political groups, nudists, and endless other hordes of ethnic, tribal and special interest groups.
Like rabbits on hormone's humanity had multiplied and now fled Mother Earth to live on thousands of newly found planets in the nearby stars. It didn't take long for the squabbles to start. Groups started to get territorial. Believers didn't want non-believers sharing even the same solar system. Systems banded together and started to bully their neighbors, such as they were and almost as quickly as humanity exploded out into the galaxy, it all collapsed.
All the worm drives were still built, on Earth, and an ultra-fanatical group for reasons known only to them took a small nuclear device and blew up the facility, that very carefully stored the singularities. In nanoseconds, they and 25 percent of Mother Earth disappeared. No new worm drives would ever be made again, on a now very wobbly planet.
Like all things made by man, the ships required maintenance. The computers that calculated to the umpteenth decimal point where to point the drive required skilled upkeep and there were now few left that could do this. Travel between the stars shortly ground nearly to a stop. The worm drive used a small loophole in Mr. Einstein's calculations, but radio waves or lasers could not, and sending a message between solar systems would take decades to reach the recipients, if it got there at all. Planets that were self-sufficient plowed forward, some in better shape than others. Many planets were not sufficient at all and in time Darwin took care of them.We start our story on the planet Bliss. Ben Thompson is the son of a specialist in the repair of terraforming equipment, His father was reassigned to repair the oxygen making systems on a small but very mineral rich planet colonized by Luddites. Although Luddites espoused low technology, this belief ground to a quick halt at the planet's oxygen making systems, and they had more than enough gemstones and exotic minerals lying around to pay for the repairs. Ben opts to remain on Bliss and find his own way rather than go to such a backward place. It all works out for Ben. He gets a new job, meets a remarkable woman and goes off on an adventure. He just doesn't know it quite yet.