In the first decade of the 21st Century, a miracle substance named handwavium appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Handwavium had properties that defied the known laws of physics, and could bring the impossible within reach of the ordinary person: space-capable flying cars, subtle and obvious modifications of the human body, even create new life from dead matter.
Scientists studied it. Governments feared it. The rest of the world didnt care all that much. Science fiction fandom saw handwavium as the key to making their fantasies reality, and took advantage. Fans founded the Crystal Cities of Venus, the topless towers of Helium on Mars, the bottled city of Kandor on the Moon, built farms in the sky and sailed beyond the edge of the solar system to the near stars.
Its a brand-new Space Age, and the people who want to go are the ones leading the pack.
(Intro text from the Fenspace website used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 3.0 Unported License.)
This shared universe contains examples of:
- Applied Phlebotinum: The handwavium and associated technologies.
- Baleful Polymorph: Used by the Boskonians (a criminal faction) to create catgirl slaves.
- Becoming the Costume: This is a possible result of handwavium accidents. The most drastic example to date is a guy who built a Transformer using handwavium and got shot by a police sniper after being mistaken for a terrorist. He passed out in the cab, with a burst pipe leaking handwavium into the wound, and woke up with his mind now in the Transformer body. Likewise, the first catgirl was created when a con-goer in a handwavium-enhanced catgirl costume ate food contaminated with Guacamole (a strain of 'wavium specialized for bio-modification), and another guy became a cyborg when he accidentally drank a bottle of handwavium while wearing a suit of Powered Armor.
- Casual Interplanetary Travel: Up to Eleven thanks to handwavium. Vehicles that travel at less than 5% of the speed of light are considered unusually slow in this setting.
- Cat Girl: All of them used to be human, and the change wasn't always voluntary.
- Cool Gate: At least three gates (one destroyed) are known to exist in extrasolar systems that provide instantaneous travel between each other. They're made from alloys of standard metals, transuranic elements and alien, inert strains of handwavium, have been around for a long time, and were probably made by the beings responsible for some obviously terraformed worlds that have been found.
- Cyberpunk: The space station Genaros (an elongated Bernal sphere), the most populous spaceborne settlement in Earth orbit, was built with this aesthetic firmly in mind. Its always dusk-dim inside it — the stations windows were deliberately tinted to let in little light — and the interior is completely covered with neon, concrete (imported from Earth) and steel, with not a trace of green outside the stations hydroponic food facilities. On top of everything else, there's sprinklers that simulate rain and holographic displays to make the sky look "like a television tuned to a dead channel". Theres no practical reason it had to be this way, mind — it's built the way it is because that's how the station's 22,000 residents like it.
- Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: The inhabitants of the cyberpunk space station Genaros went through the trouble of building it with tinted windows that let in only 25% of incoming light, installing sprinklers in its central axis and using holograms to make its "sky" look like a television tuned to a dead channel specifically to invoke this trope.
- Fandom: Fensapce is populated primarily by science fiction, fantasy, and anime fans of one stripe or another, many of whom have banded together into loose factions. If it's a piece of speculative fiction, there's probably a fen somewhere who lives his or her life by it.
- Defictionalization: In-Universe, fans of multiple franchises created various pieces of technology as well as the governments associated with them.
- Fantastic Drug: Thionite, a highly addictive drug obtained from Venusian terraforming bacteria that causes its users to experience vivid, incapacitating illusions of their personal desires, even the ones they normally keep hidden and suppressed.
- Floating Continent: Unreal Estate, chunks of land that have been handwaved to be mobile and occasionally spaceworthy.
- There's the Island, which was formerly a piece of Nigerian countryside.
- There are also the Venusian Cloud Cities, which serve chiefly as the home bases of the Magical Girl fandoms.
- Grover's Corners, formerly a chunk of West Virginia farmland, is the largest piece of Unreal Estate in space, and the only craft in Fenspace with a Spindizzy Drive.
- Most floating continents tend to be made out of land lifted from non-Earth planets, the Moon, or asteroids, as Earth governments are rarely thrilled at losing productive land to space—the launches of both the Island and Grover's Corners soured Earth-Fen relations for a good while each.
- Flying Car: This is a common form of transport for the Fen. In space, no less.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Handwaved computers develop into A.I. with disturbing frequency.
- Orbital Bombardment: See that entry about Casual Interplanetary Travel above? The writing community are acutely aware of the Fridge Horror that sets in when you think about what would happen if two tons of home-built spaceship hit Earth's surface doing a measurable fraction of lightspeed. A couple of stories have been written about preventing this from happening.
- Precursors: Evidence of at least one, possibly two, ancient alien races has been discovered. Nobody knows where they are now.
- Shout-Out: Fans of multiple franchises created various pieces of technology as well as the governments associated with them.
- Space Navy: Most of the bigger factions have something like one. The Crystal Millenium Kingdom shakes things up a bit with the Sailors Armed Militia; one of the Senshi's founding members was a Coast Guard brat and stuck to what she knew when they decided to set one up.
- Space Station: The Fen have built a very large number of space stations throughout the solar system. Most of the early ones were built in a rather ramshackle way out of things like shipping containers, water tanks and space shuttle fuel tanks that had been vacuum-sealed and upgraded with handwaved technology, but the later ones, built after the Fen became more well established, are much more sophisticated and pre-planned. They can get rather varied, including callbacks to more retro space station designs (there's three separate Bernal spheres floating around, for instance) and various hollowed-out asteroids. While most space stations took inspiration from some part of science fiction or another to a greater of lesser degree, the one that takes the cake is almost certainly the A Baoa Qu, built by Mobile Suit Gundam fans who went through the trouble of sculpting a rather large asteroid into a mushroom shape so that they could build a replica of the anime's space fortress.