This article needs additional citations for verification .(September 2014)
Galactic empires are a common trope used in science fantasy and science fiction, particularly in works known as 'space operas'. Many authors have either used a galaxy-spanning empire as background or written about the growth and/or decline of such an empire. The capital of a galactic empire is frequently a core world, such as a planet relatively close to a galaxy's supermassive black hole, which has advanced considerably in science and technology compared to current human civilization. Characterizations can vary wildly from malevolent forces attacking sympathetic victims to apathetic bureaucracies to more reasonable entities focused on social progress and anywhere in between.
The best known such organization to the general public today is the Galactic Empire from Star Wars, which was formed in turn from the Galactic Republic. A military dictatorship based upon fear and terror, said Empire is an explicitly villainous force with linguistic and visual traits directly reminiscent of Nazi Germany. For example, their armored forces known as "stormtroopers" are named analogously to the Sturmabteilung (often known as the SA), a paramilitary entity created by the Nazis in 1920.Their best-known weapon is the iconic Death Star, a moon-sized space platform that possesses the ability to destroy entire planets.
Most of these galaxy-spanning domains depend on some form of transportation capable of quickly or instantly crossing vast cosmic distances, usually measured in light-years, many times faster than regular particles such as photons traveling at light speed. These, instantaneous or faster-than-light (FTL) technologies invariably require some type of propulsion or displacement technology forbidden by Albert Einstein's theories on relativity. Described methods often rely on theories that circumvent or supersede relativity. Examples include the hypothesis of a warp drive (such as, more specifically, an Alcubierre drive) that bends the fabric of space-time.
The term "galactic empire" has, no doubt because of association with the Empire from Star Wars , gained an unfavorable reputation. However, the galactic empires from the Foundation universe and the CoDominium universe are relatively benign organizations. Much of the plot of the Foundation series, authored by Isaac Asimov, revolves around the issue of who can best and most quickly revive the fallen galactic empire, it being taken for granted that this is a positive and worthy aim. In writer Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium series, members of the empire often work to maintain the best interests of humanity despite efforts by violent political extremists to pursue their own ends.
In many cases, the term "galactic empire" is misleading as it suggests an organization encompassing far more star systems than is actually described. This may come about as a result of propaganda exaggerating the spread of an imperial entity in order to appear stronger than is actually the case. The situation is similar to how historical nation-states such as the 'Holy Roman Empire' presented themselves; being roughly twice the size of modern Germany. While some of the noted fictional empires tend to encompass a large portion of the galaxy, many other empires may be classified as interplanetary or interstellar empires since they encompass only a local group of star systems.[ citation needed ]
Writer Poul Anderson makes the point that the declining empire depicted in his Dominic Flandry series does not span the entire galaxy but only a fraction of one of its spiral arms. Still, however, the institution is vast beyond a regular human's ability to truly comprehend, and it is in the process of collapsing under its own weight.[ citation needed ]
Galactic empires are many cases consciously modeled on historical Earth-bound empires. Asimov stated explicitly that the Galactic Empire whose fall is depicted in his Foundation books is modeled on the Roman Empire, with the author taking direct inspiration from the historical writings of Edward Gibbon, even to the point of basing some individual characters on historical figures. Specifically, Pebble in the Sky , taking place on Earth – a poor and backward province of the Galactic Empire – is modeled on Roman-ruled Judea in the First Century AD. Asimov's Earth – like the historical Judea – is sharply polarized between those who accept the Imperial authority and the fanatic "Zealots" who hatch violent plots of bloody rebellion and are the book's clear villains.
Similarly, Anderson's Dominic Flandry series consciously compares the imperial organization for which the protagonist serves with the Roman Empire to the point of tracing out the space equivalents of the Roman 'Principate' and 'Dominate' phases. In the Star Wars universe, the fall of the Galactic Republic and its replacement by the Galactic Empire – as depicted in Revenge of the Sith – recall the historic fall of the Roman Republic and its replacement by the Roman Empire headed by Augustus.
The universe established in Frank Herbert's Dune recalls the aforementioned Holy Roman Empire as well as the Byzantine and Islamic empires, especially given the role of hitherto disregarded desert-dwellers who, due to a powerful new religion, expand to topple an old empire and build a new one. For example, the Egyptian-Canadian commentator Khalid M. Baheyeldin has enumerated the obviously Islamic concepts and references appearing in Dune to the level of finding multiple similarities between the career of Herbert's Paul Atreides and that of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Another notable example of a galactic empire would be the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is a feudal theocratic industrial and militaristic totalitarian regime (nominally absolute monarchy) that does in fact span almost the entirety of the Milky Way Galaxy. Despite massive strength, the institution's territories are constantly at risk due to unending conflicts with various alien races and rebel factions.
In the final arc of the Sailor Moon manga series by Naoko Takeuchi, a fictional organization called Shadow Galactica has established an empire all over the Milky Way. Shadow Galactica is stealing "starseeds", the essence of sentient life in the galaxy. Its members come from different Star Systems and Sailor Galaxia, the self-proclaimed "Golden Queen of Shadow Galactica", has built her palace around the Galaxy Cauldron, the birthplace of all life in the Milky Way located in Galactic Center.
Bertram Chandler wrote two interstellar series – one featuring a Galactic Empire ruled by a series of non-hereditary Empresses while the other has a Republican Galactic Federation. Chandler's Empire and Federation, both relatively benign, have much in common – both covering the same volume of space, having much the same kind of Space Navy and both having the same commercial spaceflight company called "The Dog Star Line", suggesting that these are two alternate history timelines which branched off from the same original space travelling culture.
A Galactic Empire need not be officially called that. For example, Asimov's Foundation is depicted as having started life as a Foundation of scholars, taking up just one city on one faraway planet and setting up a modest municipal government headed, naturally, by a Mayor. Through a centuries-long series of developments which are the main subject matter of the Foundation Series, the Foundation gains enormous power and territory and comes to rule virtually as many stellar systems as the earlier fallen Empire - but continues to call itself "Foundation" rather than "Empire", and its ruler - though wielding as much power as any Emperor - retains the title of "Mayor".
In Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle, the interstellar entity known as "The League of All Worlds" and later as "The Ekumen" is in possession of the 'ansible'. Technology makes possible instantaneous interstellar communications, and the ability to send instantaneous unmanned ships carrying bombs to another planet is exploited as well. However, living beings can't survive such travel, and thus humans are limited to space exploration done at relativistic speeds. Correspondingly, this organization, despite on occasion waging war across interstellar distances, ends up being more loose than a true empire.
Author Orson Scott Card's "Starways Congress", an organization featured in the work Speaker for the Dead (the follow-up to Ender's Game ), similarly relies on the ansible. Yet it is more authoritarian and less benevolent than Le Guin's creation. Much of the story-line of the book and its sequels involve attempts to avoid interstellar bloodshed despite difficult circumstances.
In the novel Dune, the empire's power is held within three organizations, these being the Imperial family; the Landsraad, representing the nobility; and the Spacing Guild, an interstellar travel monopoly.
Star Wars depicts an empire dictated by Darth Sidious, supported by a powerful space navy. It is stated in the original Star Wars film that there was an Imperial Senate that was later disbanded by the Emperor.
In Warhammer 40000, the Imperium of Man is managed by a vast bureaucracy, ranging from the High Lords of Terra to various mostly-autonomous planetary governors, all of which govern the Imperium's territories on behalf of the comatose God-Emperor. It is supported by several organisations, such as the Ecclesiarchy, its state church; and the Adeptus Mechanicus, which produces most of its military equipment, which also operate independently from each other and the central Terran government.
An ansible is a category of fictional devices or technology capable of near-instantaneous or faster-than-light communication. It can send and receive messages to and from a corresponding device over any distance or obstacle whatsoever with no delay, even between star systems. As a name for such a device, the word "ansible" first appeared in a 1966 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since that time, the term has been broadly used in the works of numerous science fiction authors, across a variety of settings and continuities.
A future history is a postulated history of the future and is used by authors of science fiction and other speculative fiction to construct a common background for fiction. Sometimes the author publishes a timeline of events in the history, while other times the reader can reconstruct the order of the stories from information provided therein.
Foundation and Earth is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, the fifth novel of the Foundation series and chronologically the last in the series. It was published in 1986, four years after the first sequel to the Foundation trilogy, which is titled Foundation's Edge.
The Foundation series is a science fiction book series written by American author Isaac Asimov. First published as a series of short stories in 1942–50, and subsequently in three collections in 1951–53, for thirty years the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. It won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Asimov began adding new volumes in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov's Robot and Empire series, indicating that they also were set in the same fictional universe.
The Galactic Empire series is a science fiction sequence of three of Isaac Asimov's earliest novels, and extended by one short story. They are connected by their early place in his published works and chronological placement within his overarching Foundation Universe, set around the rise of Asimov's Galactic Empire, between the Robot and Foundation series to which they were linked in Asimov's later novels.
The First Galactic Empire is a fictional autocracy featured in the Star Wars franchise. It was first introduced in the 1977 film Star Wars and appears in its two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). It is the main antagonistic faction of the original trilogy. An oppressive, autocratic regime with a complicated bureaucracy, the Galactic Empire seeks to ensure singular rule and social control over every planet and civilization within the galaxy.
Pebble in the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1950. This work is his first novel — parts of the Foundation series had appeared from 1942 onwards in magazines, but Foundation was not published in book form until 1951. The original Foundation books are also a string of linked episodes, whereas this is a complete story involving a single group of characters.
The Encyclopedia Galactica is a fictional or hypothetical encyclopedia containing all the knowledge accumulated by a galaxy-spanning civilization. The name evokes the exhaustive aspects of the real-life Encyclopædia Britannica.
Coruscant is an ecumenopolis planet in the fictional Star Wars universe. It first appeared onscreen in the 1997 Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, but was first depicted and mentioned by name in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire. Coruscant is a prominent location in both canon and Legends media that has been produced. Within the narrative of the films, Coruscant-based locations such as the Jedi Temple and Jedi Archives act as the home for the Jedi and in plot terms are frequently used for exposition or to drive other elements of the plot.
Robots and Empire is a science fiction novel by the American author Isaac Asimov, published by Doubleday Books in 1985. It is part of Asimov's Robot series, which consists of many short stories and five novels.
Second Foundation is the third novel published of the Foundation Series by American writer Isaac Asimov, and the fifth in the in-universe chronology. It was first published in 1953 by Gnome Press.
CoDominium is a series of future history novels written by American writer Jerry Pournelle, along with several co-authors, primarily Larry Niven.
The Star Wars science fiction media franchise is acknowledged to have been inspired by many sources. These include southern and eastern Asian religions, Qigong, philosophy, classical mythology, Roman history, Zoroastrianism, parts of the Abrahamic religions, Confucianism, Shintō and Taoism, and countless cinematic precursors. Creator George Lucas stated "Most of the spiritual reality in the movie[s] is based on a synthesis of all religions. A synthesis through history; the way man has perceived the unknown and the great mystery and tried to deal with that or dealing with it".
The Currents of Space is a science fiction novel by the American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1952. It is the second of three books labeled the Galactic Empire series, but it was the last of the three to be written. Each occurs after humans have settled many worlds in the galaxy, after the second wave of colonization that went beyond the Spacer worlds, and before the era of decline that was the setting for the original Foundation series.
The Galactic Empire is an interstellar empire featured in Isaac Asimov's Robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation series. The Empire is spread across the Milky Way galaxy and consists of almost 25 million planets settled exclusively by humans. For over 12 millennia the seat of imperial authority was located on the ecumenopolis of Trantor, whose population exceeded 40 billion, until it was sacked in the year 12,328. The official symbol of the empire is the Spaceship-and-Sun. Cleon II was the last Emperor to hold significant authority. The fall of the empire, modelled on the fall of the Roman Empire, is the subject of many of Asimov's novels.
Hyperspace is a concept from science fiction and cutting-edge science relating to higher dimensions and a superluminal method of interstellar travel. It is typically described as an alternative "sub-region" of space co-existing with our own universe. In much of science fiction, hyperspace is described as a physical place that can be entered and exited using a rubber science energy field or similar phenomena generated by a shipboard device often known as a "hyperdrive". The superluminal function of the concept is therefore facilitated by the fact that, once in hyperspace, the laws of general and special relativity do not necessarily behave in the same way when compared to normal spacetime, allowing travelers through hyperspace to go astronomical distances in periods of time far shorter than what an analogous object traveling at the speed of light would take traveling said distance in normal spacetime. This allows for apparent faster-than-light travel, which is necessary to have practical, human-timescale travel across outer space.
Galaxies other than the Milky Way are popular settings for creators of science fiction, particularly those working with broad-scale space opera settings. Among the most common settings are the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, and the Triangulum Galaxy, all part of the Local Group close to the Milky Way, and in the cases of Andromeda and Triangulum the Local Group's two largest other galaxies. The difficulties involved in crossing the immense distances between galaxies are often overlooked in this type of science fiction.
A galactic quadrant, or quadrant of the Galaxy, is one of four circular sectors in the division of the Milky Way Galaxy.