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Galactic empire (or Space Empire) may refer to:

In fiction:

In games:


Galactic empires are a common theme in science fiction. 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. Some of these empires are based on the Roman Empire; the Galactic Empire of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (which inspired empires of later writers and film-makers) being an obvious example, as is the Terran Empire of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry[citation needed].

The events in Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe, where hitherto disregarded desert-dwellers create a powerful new religion and burst out to topple an old empire and build a new one, are clearly modeled on the rise of Islam (all the more obvious since the language of the Fremen is clearly descended from Arabic).

The best known to the general public today is probably the empire from Star Wars, which was formed in turn from the Galactic Republic. This empire displays elements of Napoleon I's rise to power as well as the Roman Empire and the Third Reich.

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 a beam of light. 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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