Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible--until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars. Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It's a hedge against interstellar war--and, for the empire's rulers, a system of control.
Life on other planets -- Fiction.
Space and time -- Fiction.