The best books in the rise and fall of Galactic Empires

Massimo Marino Author Of The Law
By Massimo Marino

The Books I Picked & Why

The Stars, Like Dust

By Isaac Asimov

Book cover of The Stars, Like Dust

Why this book?

It is not possible to talk about “galactic empires” in SF and not naming/checking Asimov’s masterpieces. Asimov describes in breathtaking detail a highly complex yet credible and vivid universe and follows its evolution and the struggles in a historical buildup, encompassing several novels. Expect to feel like watching History Channel of the Future: you will see an empire rise, swell outward, stabilize, destabilize, fall, experience a Dark Age that lasts 30,000 years, and then rise again. Asimov based many of the details of his empire on the Romans, their history, and their Empire. Impossible not to feel how real his Galaxy thus becomes: here and there you will have the sensation that something familiar is unfolding in front of your eyes… if you have studied classics and history, that is. Asimov’s Galactic Empire is thus recognizable and with a familiar shape, and at the same time, it is the epitome of SF brilliance. It’s still one of the most interesting future empires ever imagined by a SF author.

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By Frank Herbert

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

The empire which Herbert’s Dune offers the readers has so many original ideas, which could be used as a blueprint to create a variety of different galactic empires in different novels. Dune’s empire is one which could be the transposition in the future of the violent Medieval times in Europe, with factions perfecting the art of evil plotting, backstabbing, betrayals, secrecy, and zest of zealotry. Even after Paul Atreides rises to become emperor, and fulfills indeed a prophecy in the novel, the complexity rather begins there and then. The empire can be followed over the span of thousands of years, seeing the rise and fall of emperors, practically divine figures, and watching humanity scatters into the unknown. The empire folds and re-folds and treats the reader like the waves to a pebble on a shore, at times lulled by gentle pushes, other times captured and thrown back with force by the never stopping cycles of an unforgiving galactic empire with too many forces and pulls to ever hope for a rest.

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Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy)

By Phyllis Gotlieb

Book cover of Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy)

Why this book?

By now, it should be clear I like trilogies, reading and writing them. The Lyhhrt Trilogy is a perfect example of incredible imagination and wordsmith talent. As in some of my writings, there is palpable lyrical style and a dense compositional approach to a story that explores the awful and worming guts that must be, de facto, the only way any vast empire can form, emboweled and ejected into reality. The Galactic Federation here is a hostage of the nobility or despicable evilness of those carrying authority in the governing organization: game of thrones anyone? The spine of the story, as in The Law, is of a GalFed Judge who realizes cruelty and slavery are the crude reality in an empire focused on satisfying the same base urges that humanity spends so much energy on today. A well envisioned complicated and messy universe, the way it should be.

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Ender's Game

By Orson Scott Card

Book cover of Ender's Game

Why this book?

Ender’s Game won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and for reasons. It’s a military science fiction story that resonates amazingly well with today’s young generations. How to counter incredibly powerful assaults by a conquering galactic civilization when it appears all is lost and the ending is nigh? How to “think different” when face to face with a formidable foe which is beyond the grasping power of orthodox military powers? Kids, children, who are trained through increasingly difficult games and excel in beating the AI which behaves as the invaders and destroys invariably all adults, frozen in the learned military tactics and destined to fail the human race. The idea that this is a book from the eighties is fascinating. Interesting note: It has become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

By Douglas Adams

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Why this book?

I wanted to end with a cheerful note. This is one of the funniest science fiction books ever written. The start? The Earth is being destroyed, and from then, an incredibly funny, out of this world (literally) series of events unfold. My suggestion is to read this book alone, or people will start looking at you when you start giggling and laughing.

If you’re not into laughing while reading science fiction, then my suggestion would be John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Follow John Perry: on his 75th birthday he does two crucial things which change his life; first, he visits his wife’s grave, then he joins the army.

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