This story is set in an entirely new SF universe for me, one generated specifically for this story. It was originally meant to be a novel, but as I worked on it I decided it could be a short now and a novel later.
...and there's a crapton of other stories I can write in this universe, too. I have an idea for a series of short stories about a guy who buys a ship called Piss-Poor Judgement and has Many Bold Adventures. It's wide open for other things, too, but there are a few rules in this universe:
1. There are no aliens. No ancient aliens, either, so there aren't any alien artifacts to find laying around. (Incidentally, this first story violates that rule, kind of. But it's okay, because I've decided it is.)
2. With the exception of FTL, all the laws of physics are followed. Psionics, for example, are limited to line-of-sight and planetary distances. It won't work over interstellar distances. (Psionics do not often appear in this universe, though.)
3. There is no interstellar communication faster than starship. It's theoretically possible to force photons through hyperspace, but no one's managed to do it in (at the time of this first story) 400 years. And starships take months to travel between stars. They get faster over time, but not quickly.
4. Earth is a totalitarian shithole. It gets even worse (rather than better) after people start colonizing other worlds and Earth tries to keep control over colonies long after they're economically independent. This causes friction.
There will probably be others as I work on stories set in this canon.
Anyway, a story has been submitted for publication. We'll see how it goes.