Which galactic empire is best?

Gotta love galactic empires: everything’s big, shiny, well-dressed, and more often than not a thinly-disguised version of either the Roman or British empires. Or both. Ya got Asimov’s from The Foundation Trilogy. Lucas’s from Star Wars. Herbert’s from Dune. Any others worth discussing? Which is best, or coolest, or most badass, and why? What interesting stories still remain to be told about galactic empires, either in print or at the movies?

The Empire - Sten Series

Ruled by The Eternal Emperor. Has endured 187 attempted assassinations. Only 3 were successful. Galaxy-class cook. AM2 power. Streg. Angelo stew! Early to mid Empire, before the Tahn Wars.

On the down side, you have Kilgour’s stories. :eek:

I think the Star Wars empire is scarecly worthy of the name. True, the Empire can project overwhelming force at any given locality, but their overall control seems nominal at best. There are umpteen life-bearing or even sentient-inhabited worlds barely in the database, much less under even token Imperial control. Large numbers of worlds such as those controlled by the Hutt are quasi-independent fiefs, allowed day to day self-rule as long as they don’t challenge Imperial authority.

This is reasonably approximate to most empires.

Let me posit:

The Empire of Man from Jerry Pournelle

Assembled piecemeal from remnants of both American and Russian space fleets following the near destruction of Earth the Empire centers on several strong and loyal planets, St Ekaterina and others. It has survived several major crises including a major dissolution and loss of technology from the First Empire to the current one. Fighting Sauron Superman in rebellion as well as numerous lost and disregarded planets the Empire, centered on Sparta and run by a semi-industrial aristocracy has declared that there can never again be a division of sovereignty as it leads to conflict and warfare. Worlds are taken into the empire at varied levels depending upon their level of technological development. Diplomatic annexation is considered ideal but when that doesn’t work the fleet is called in to settle matters…in one case terminally by sterilizing the planet of Istvan.

Then, of course, the first ever non-human intelligence is discovered…

Oh, good one; it was the first that came to mind.

One question I’ve had about this: was this the basis for Warhammer 40K? Because there are some awfully odd similarities…

Of course. I should have mentioned The Mote in God’s Eye. All hail Emperor Leonidas!

Another worth mentioning: the Federal Empire of George R.R. Martin’s SF stories, most notably Tuf Voyaging. Very advanced technologically, capable of building starships 30 kms long, particularly talented in ecological engineering, it defeated the rapacious alien Hrangans in a generations-long interstellar war. Since fallen, some of the Empire’s ships and artifacts remain to be found.

You’ve just described many of the strengths of the Galactic Empire - a capacity to maintain order where needed, without destroying local autonomy. Besides, how else would you govern something that size?

For a good discussion of why we should all despise the Rebel scum, see “The Case for the Empire”, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/248ipzbt.asp.

David Feintuch’s Of Hope books posit an empire very much like the British Empire, basically so he could write a series of novels that are essentially a space-opera reworking of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower tales.

David Webber does exactly the same thing, though his Star Kingdom of Manticore is a relatively small regional power, not a galactic empire.

I’d say the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40K mythos. Spanning millions of worlds and ruled by a completly ruthless immortal emperor worshipped as a god by his trilions of subjects, his position is maintained by the omnipresent religion that he created that prevents people even thinking about rebellion. The thing I like about the Imperium is that it’s no “let’s understand each other and get along, and maybe learn something from those interesting aliens” it’s “There is finite space. Man deserves to have it all. Anyone who gets in the way is all out of luck. Questioning the Imperium is heresy”.

:: bump ::

I am sort of fond of the Third Imperium, from the rpg Traveller.

There is also the Tekumel, from the game The Empire of the Petal Throne

Another vote for Sten’s “The empire”.

I was going to vote for Asimov’s Galactic Empire, but it was just a (very cool) backdrop for the Foundation Empire, Sten’s Eternal Emperor was way cooler*, loved the cooking scenes.

(Until he got off the deep end)

I vote for The Dominion.

At a time when the Galaxy’s major powers were constantly squabbling over little sectors, they had managed to dominate an entire quadrant of the Galaxy for centuries.

You know what would have been cool? A war between the Dominion and the Borg. Assimilated Jem’Hedar? Badass.

This actually is the first that came to mind as for me as well. One of the first things you saw when you opened up the old rulebook was this:

I’m going to go with the obscure: the High Inquest, from the series by Somtow Sucharitkul. It actually is galaxy-spanning, with extremely advanced technology, and imposes an artificial utopia on the galaxy by periodically and artistically destroying worlds as determined by games of chance, with the populations humanely evacuated in stasis for resettlement.

Also, given Sucharitkul’s background, the High Inquest comes across as nothing like the bog-standard Neo-European Empire In Space as many other galactic empires do.

Not technically an empire as such but a civilisation covering a vast area,extremely powerful and having an incredibly advanced technology, I nominate Ian m. Banks “The Culture”.


It collapses totally and there’s a thousand years of freedom from an oppressive, remote, central authority–a hundred thousand worlds will have millions of individual cultures flourishing without the imposed homogenity of the Empire.

And the Second Foundation plan is pretty easily derailed–just publicize it ahead of the game and you’ve got 10,000 years of freedom (or “darkness” as Seldon calls it).

Fenris (not a big fan of empires)