Does one need to be well versed in Gundam for this to be a cohesive story, or is it a stand alone story itself? I am interested to give it a read, but unsure if I'll be able to follow if you need to have some knowledge of previous happenings in the Gundam universe (I've always loved the mecha designs and figures but never knew where to actually start with Gundam)
It does seem to be reliant on at least some knowledge of the UC timeline, at least. This seems to be directly after ZZ, with the lack of cohesive Zeon leadership with Haman gone, and a few years before Char's Counterattack.
If you wanna know where to start, production order is the failsafe way to go but if you don't want to dive straight into 0079's rather inconsistent animation and frequent budget run-outs (I still recommend it despite that, or at least watching the movies), I highly recommend War in the Pocket. It's short, good, and self-contained.
Also, it's on youtube in decent quality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzJL11pHylo&list=PLm8xXAgUtmz7Ci9cyzAfP2qer09QjtbRH
Because it sounds cool, mostly. Earth-born humans are referred to as Earthnoids, and there's something of a racial divide between Spacenoids and Earthnoids though it's mostly chilled out by this point in the timeline.