Lying just past the orbit of Neptune is a disc of ice and dust known as the Kuiper Belt. It is home to over a hundred planetoids, including Pluto, Haumea, and Eris, and thousands of asteroids large enough to conceal a habitat. Most Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) are a mix of ice and rock which pre-date the genesis of the sun. Though sparsely populated, most transhuman activity takes place in the “classical” Kuiper Belt, between 42 and 48 AU, where frozen volatiles, complex organic molecules, and rare minerals are more easily harvested.
Habitats here are sporadic and politically disparate. They are often carved from the inside of larger asteroids and use thick layers of ice for structural support and shielding from radiation and impacts. Vast distances between them necessitate complete self-sufficiency. The further a habitat is from the sun, the more dependent it becomes on mining to provide for fusion and chemical power generation. Heavy metals are scarce, limiting industry, conventional construction, and the adoption of new tech.
Duplex and high-density transmissions are limited by their range. A lack of effective communication has prevented political and cultural uni cation and created a wide variety of reclusive niches. Exhumans, criminals, anarchists, ultimates, out’sters, and brinkers have all found the isolation of the belt ideal to their pursuits. Piracy has grown in some corners, due to reliance on automated craft between poorly defended habitats. Social order is tempered with paranoia, and enforced through the barrel of a gun. Failed and abandoned habitats are relatively common, set adrift and left to rust among the frozen bodies of the belt.