Colonialism as we know it never happened. The regions of earth developed at an equal rate, creating eight great civilizations. Though each empire had a vastly different culture and polity, they all shared the human propensity to produce and consume. The race to progress was fierce and not without conflict. By the mid-nineteenth century, the globe was pockmarked with sprawling, sooty metropolises, surrounded by the wastelands of denuded forests and gloomy skies cluttered with dirigibles and airships.