The First Great Expansion took the human race by surprise and left it very dramatically altered. Looking back of course, we can see that this was inevitable – the combination of immensely powerful zero-cost self-replicating nanotechnology and the unruly whimsicality of human nature could only end one way, and that would involve hitherto unknown levels of pure chaos. The catalyst for change came about with the widespread availability of universal assisted reproduction nanobots which could facilitate viable reproduction with any element in the environment that you might conceive a desire to reproduce with. This wasn’t just a matter of transcending the famous ‘species barrier’ therefore but rather any sort of barrier at all. There no longer were any barriers – reproductive barriers were a thing of the past. The sky was the limit as far as assisted reproduction was concerned and this of course heralded the end of the human race in its recognizable form (which is to say, with two arms, two legs, a torso with a back and a front and some type of a head on the top). This was what historians would come to call ‘The First Great Human Expansion’, as we have already indicated. It is not space that we expanded out into as the very early science fictions writers such as Isaac Asimov and Olaf Stapleton had imagined but the world of inanimate objects. This was not a planned development – none of the great expansions were – but rather something of an unforeseen fluke, driven not by intelligence and wisdom and forethought but nothing more than pure mindless faddism, the fad in question being nanobot-assisted reproduction with any element in the environment, animate or otherwise, that you so desired. No challenge was too great for these resourceful medical nanobots – there was nothing that they couldn’t do! human nature being what it was therefore everybody tried to outdo everybody else by picking stranger and stranger ‘partners’ to reproduce with and within three or four decades the world had become pretty much unrecognizable. Up to this point human beings had inhabited a largely inanimate environment but after the First Great Expansion you would be hard pushed to come across anything inanimate in your environment anymore. Tables, chairs, beds, bed linen, pillows, carpets, walls, bicycles, cars, buses, mobility scooters, apartment blocks, walking sticks, bedroom slippers, salt-shakers, sanitary towel dispensers, everything was alive, and not just alive but properly sentient too. A lot of household appliances were no more intelligent and emotionally sensitive than the old-style regular human beings who had originally used them. After the First Great Expansion, which was as we have said essentially morphological in nature, very few ‘pure-bred’ humans were left, which was only to be expected given the intense flurry of both interspecies and human-object reproduction that had taken place. There were dog-boys and cat-girls, talking trees and humans who rooted themselves into the ground and grew like great oak trees, there were bird-men and bat-people, fish-wives and father-things, ant-boys and spider-babies, queen bees and rat-kings, insect-folk and fish-people, metal brothers and plastic sisters, and that was only the beginning of it. Laws had to be changed to granted all sentient beings, of whatever type, equal rights, which meant that you could no longer exploit your toothbrush by forcing it to brush your teeth if it didn’t want to, and so on. You couldn’t just walk up to a chair and sit on it, as had once been the case. Such was the First Great Expansion, which stretched society and social values beyond the point of all recognition. Despite the chaos caused however the Second Expansion is generally reckoned to have been a very positive event in human history – not only did make the world a more interesting place, it compelled humanity to finally get rid of its deep-seated nonsensical prejudices again folk who didn’t happen to look exactly like they did….