1. lastspartacus
    Offline

    lastspartacus New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0

    'Empire' Overused?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by lastspartacus, Sep 24, 2012.

    Simple enough question. In my story there is a faction that basically represents something similar to a Roman Empire in space. It controls multiple worlds that it obtained through war, so ya, its an empire. The problem is, does this just seem too common? I see the words empire and, to a lesser extent, imperium, pretty often. Is there a more unique word for this type of entity?
     
  2. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    their are lots of empires in fiction, many with just the name "empire". don't really see thalassocracy's witch i guess could apply to a science fiction setting.
    does he empire have a name?
    also definition wise having a monarchy or oligarchy rule is part of the empires definition.
     
  3. cybrxkhan
    Offline

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    13
    Empire is overused, perhaps, but there aren't really that many other words that's equivalent to it. If you're talking about a political entity that is 1) ruled by an Emperor/Empress, and/or, 2) controls wide swaths of areas outside its core home territory that it conquered, then yeah, Empire is the word to use.

    Again, yes it might be overused, but that's because it's really the only word I can think of that suits its definition
     
  4. Burlbird
    Offline

    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    978
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Somewhere Else
    Empire might be overused, but I noticed that there are almost no 'kingdoms' in space-opera. At least I can't think of any interstellar kingdom in fiction I've read so far... there are barons and dukes and empresses etc but no kings!!! I wan't a space king the next time I write a space-opera! :)
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Typically, an empire is a kingdom which has devoured other kingdoms, and maintains them as subordinate territories with local governments, all of which report to a monarch. That monarch may or may not be called an emperor, but a monarch called an emperor will (nearly?) always rule over an empire.

    In an interplanetary or interstellar context, individual planets would almost certainly require local governments. So empires and federations (bound by treaty rather than ruled by a monarch) are natural choices. You could also have a representative union, with a central governing committee with representation from the member worlds.
     
  6. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    another option would be a republic. this would have each locality have less autonomy the a federation. that way it can act more like a single state.if you need each independent part to have more autonomy a confederation is a option
     
  7. MilesTro
    Offline

    MilesTro Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,062
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Springfield
    Empire governments make great villains in fantasy and sci fi stories. They are all about authority corruption, greed, and enslavement And the heroes always have to bring the empire down for peace, fairness, and freedom. So cliche'.
     
  8. cybrxkhan
    Offline

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    13
    Agreed.

    Empires throughout the ages have been "bad" to varying degrees (and also "good" in their own ways as well - some people might be surprised to hear this, but for all its very much evil destruction and carnage, the Mongol Empire, for instance, had a sort of freedom of religion, an effective communication system, and was extremely meritocratic for its time). In reality, most Empires, at least after the initial conquest stages, were more pragmatic than all-out conquest evil. It would be nice to see more of these types of Empires, rather than the extremes of either 1) Mordor-land, or 2) bloated corrupt mess. Unfortunately, at least in Western fantasy and sci-fi, any time you hear of an "Empire" and/or an "Emperor", unless if there's a relationship to or if its inspired by a historical Empire, there's a 99% chance it's evil. In Eastern fantasy and sci-fi there's less of that association, if only because Emperors were considered very highly there (and some are still are).
     
  9. The Crazy Kakoos
    Offline

    The Crazy Kakoos Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    Empires as badguys are probably used often because it's natural for a powerful evil force to become one.

    I have an evil empire in my space opera as one of the nations.
     
  10. AJ Oatsvall
    Offline

    AJ Oatsvall New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wiscosin
    It doesn't have to be an actual empire. Like the others said, it could be some other form of government, but depending on the context of your story and what this "empire" of yours represents to the main character(s) it could still be referred to as an empire. I mean, America is suppose to be a republic but our government acts a lot like an empire and we are spread over quite a large range of the North American continent and have our armies spread out in military bases around the world; sounds a lot like an empire to me. Like Cogito said, an empire isn't necessarily ruled over by an emperor, but an emperor would certainly be the ruler of an empire.
     
  11. Corgz
    Offline

    Corgz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    1
    Just because something is overused doesnt mean you shouldn't use it.

    Everyone has a dog, too mainstream cant use it


    Oh my god.... this forum is filled... WITH HIPSTERS D:
     
  12. wardwolf
    Offline

    wardwolf Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canada
    Make up a word that in your story means 'Empire'; I think that would be more interesting. Make the word your own, and unique to your universe - harder for eyes to glaze over that way.
     
  13. Burlbird
    Offline

    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    978
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Somewhere Else
    Yeah, just call it 'Republic' ! :D
     
  14. Cassiopeia Phoenix
    Offline

    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Brazil
    Empire might be overused, but doesn't have to be named as such -- maybe it will help the reader to swallow the pill better :D In fact, many forms of government in the past were empires but I'm pretty sure it's a term we apply to them and were not used back then...

    Now, the name doesn't matter much if the imperialism is there and strong. But if it works for your story (or perhaps is even a major plot point) then you shouldn't worry whether is overdone or not. *shrugs*
     
  15. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    Empire in space? George Lucas beat you to it 35 years ago. ;-)
     
  16. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    If something is overused by the time you decide to use it, maybe that means the bubble is going to burst soon and you should start on the ground floor with a fresh concept.
     
  17. DannyA
    Offline

    DannyA Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    You could always have a 'regency', 'supremacy', 'dominion' or 'federation' (which always sounds 'spacey' to me).

    Whilst 'empire' may be overused, in the words of a famous garden product company here in the UK, "It does what it says on the tin". That is, you don't have to explain what an empire is - people already know.

    That said, you don't have to call it the 'Spartacus Empire', it could be called the 'Spartacus Supremacy' and referred to as an empire in order to convey it's size and modus operandi.
     
  18. Lady Amalthea
    Offline

    Lady Amalthea Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Brazil
    How about giving your "emperor" a made-up official title, in some language or semblannce of a language in your universe, and having the name of the "empire" derive from the title? The territory ruled over by an emir is an "emirate". The territory ruled over by a sultan is a "sultanate". The territory ruled over by a caliph is a "caliphate". And so on and so forth. You could just say that the dominion of "zambir" XYZ is a "zambirate" or whatever.
     
  19. lastspartacus
    Offline

    lastspartacus New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Really appreciate the input guys, this helps alot. The Spartacus Supremacy made me chuckle :p
     
  20. Spiderman
    Offline

    Spiderman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    In and of itself, no. Having a science fiction/outer space empire does not necessarily make it too much cliche or too star wars-ish, but it all depends on how it's done. Add your own plot twists and ideas to it.

    For instance, why not have a good empire, rather than an evil empire? Or maybe base the empire, at least with allusions, to a real life group? Or make the empire intergalactic/interdimensional? Maybe the ruler of the empire doesn't nessecarily have to be an Emperor, maybe a baron or something like that. Or it could be a city state. Or evil, and ruled by non-humans.

    Ideas are recycled over and over again, there's no real reason to be 100% original, but do old things in original ways, is how I see things.
     
  21. Spiderman
    Offline

    Spiderman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    For instance, the empire in issac asimov was good. That was a sci fi story, with a milky way empire.
     
  22. Spiderman
    Offline

    Spiderman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    Or maybe an Empress? Or an emperor and empress ruling together?

    Or maybe don't use the word empire, but have all the elements of an empire.
     
  23. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Cog's right. An Empire, can be overused in literature, but there's so many different ways of merging different negative governments to make a different type of empire. You could take elements from England, WW2 Germany, the Soviet Union, and others in recent history to make an unique flavor of empire. Check out a lot of the twentieth century dictatorships also, and see how they can be molded into empires, which most can be.
     
  24. Spiderman
    Offline

    Spiderman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    Good observation. That's how I write my sci fi empires. Just recycle an old idea into a sci fi version.
     
  25. Samurai Jack
    Offline

    Samurai Jack Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Consider an Empire as something specific: a state with politico-military dominion of populations who are culturally and ethnically distinct from the ruling ethnic group and its culture.

    That is what an Empire is and trying to make up a new language for it is confusing and a waste of time. People will recognize a stated Empire as an Empire, and people will recognize a described Empire as an Empire.

    You differentiate by defining the source of the ruling group's power as well as the scope of that power.

    Is power derived from a constitution? From written law? From the word or whims of the person(s) ruling?

    Does the ruling group seek to control all aspects of its people's lives or allow multiple lifestyles or opinions?

    None of those ideas is inherent in an Empire.
     

Share This Page