Galactic empire

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Galactic empires are a common trope used in science fiction and science fantasy, particularly in space opera. Many authors have either used a galaxy-spanning empire as background, or written about the growth or decline of such an empire. The capital of a galactic empire is frequently a core world or home world.

Frank Herbert's "Dune" involves hitherto disregarded desert-dwellers create a powerful new religion and burst out to topple an old empire and build a new one.

The best known to the general public today is probably the empire from Star Wars, which was formed in turn from the Galactic Republic.

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 could photons at light speed. These invariably require some type of propulsion or displacement technology forbidden by Einstein's Theory of Relativity, or that otherwise relies on theories that circumvent or supersede relativity. (See: warp drive; hyperspace; Alcubierre drive.)

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 Foundation and the CoDominium universe are relatively benign organizations.

In many cases, the term "galactic empire" is misleading as it suggests a galaxywide empire. This is likely due to the once common tendency for fiction to either confuse galaxy and star system or to simply underestimate the size of the galaxy. 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.

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