So I am interested in doing a kingdom building novel in a sci-fi universe. I was thinking of having a English aristocratic government. With the king at the top and various nobles ( Dukes, Earls, Marquis, Count, Baron).

The justification i have for this government is the lack of FTL tech. There is no FTL travel although there is FTL communications ( Communication Relay Nodes). This makes it impossible for a central government to exist because they would simply not be able to enforce their authority on distant star systems.

Furthermore I want to introduce Jump gates; these gates were technology discovered from ancient alien ruins. They do allow instantaneous travel between gates; however, there is sort of a cool down and the jump distance is limited to nearest star systems. This makes it so that the forces of the king can reach a connected star system. However, anybody that wants to escape will have plenty of time to do so.

The king stays in power because he has a monopoly on the tech for gates and comms nodes. He also owns the largest space ship manufacturing company. The king can conscript fleets to fight against aliens.

The noble titles are earned by explorers who establish outposts and settle new star systems. They have to hook up the star system with gates to earn the baron title. Higher titles will be granted based on contributions to the king. In exchange all the celestial bodies in that star system belong solely to that noble.

This is the general setup I have so far. What do you guys think? Is this feasible. I want to take a hard science approach yet there are some things I will have to make up because it is science fiction.

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    $\begingroup$ EVE ONLINE actually handles this issue with the Amar empire, where 5 noble families rule entire star systems and are headed by one king selected from those families. $\endgroup$
    – Incognito
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ If the central government can't enforce authority on distant settlements, how can the king? (Or conversely, if a king can, why can't a central government?) $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding. The answer to your title question is, it's been done countless times. So often it's almost a stereotype. But it looks like you have another question in there about how gaining this new technology (the ability to travel faster than light via jump gates) might change the government. That's a good question and I encourage you to flesh it out in the Sandbox (in Meta) and post it here instead of this one. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn Yeah I understand that it has been done before. I was just trying to see if it will be feasible in my particular setting.It just feels awkward to have a medieval era government in a futuristic setting. $\endgroup$
    – Sam Joseph
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ It's awkward because you're using the feudal trappings without the cultural, religious and economic foundations. Without FTL travel, a feudal system will crumble as the planetary lords simply ignore the king and become independent. Why should they listen when it will take the king's forces decades or centuries to get there? Once there is a jump gate network, feudalism becomes possible. Kings wouldn't give titles to explorers, they would give titles to their political and military supporters who can govern the star systems and keep taxes and goods flowing. $\endgroup$
    – TheLeopard
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 3:43

3 Answers 3


A Question of Power

You get a monarchy or aristocracy when the country gets too big to be ruled by a less formal assembly of tribal leaders and elders, and when the commoners are not yet in a position to demand political rights for themselves.

I do not think that the FTL monopoly alone will be enough even if it can be defended; the planetary populations could demand home rule no matter who controls FTL. But more likely anti-trust regulators will step in to prevent a monopoly unless the would-be king already has power to make it stick.

North Korea: Three Generations of Dear Leaders

Kim Il Sung came to power as a Communist guerilla who fought the Japanese occupiers. His personal power and cult of personality have allowed his heirs to rule the nation without having fought in the guerilla war themselves. How did they do it?

  • A society which respects ancestors and believes that merit can be inherited.
  • A group of people who benefit from the status quo and support it. This is larger than the immediate Kim family.
  • A larger group who are taught to be afraid of change because the night is dark and full of terror. The last time without the Kims was when the UN offensive got almost to the Yalu. Before that, Japanese occupation. Better the devil you know ...

United States: Two Generations of Bushes

The United States is totally unlike North Korea, yet they managed to elect two members of the Bush family within a few years. Other family members are in senior positions as well. On the other side of the aisle, the wife of President Clinton became a candidate for President herself. Why?

  • An early introduction to nuts-and-bolts politics. A junior member of the Bush, Clinton, or Kennedy families will be more aware of how one runs for office and builds a political career than the average kid.
  • A head-start in the race for public attention. If a John Doe declares that he wants to run for president, that probably won't be a headline. If a Bush does, different ballgame. Attention feeds upon itself.
  • An inherited network of political contacts. If the junior has roughly the same political positions of the senior, the senior is tailor-made to provide personal introductions.
  • Funding for the early stages of the campaign, before donations roll in.

Think Commercial

You talk about a king and nobles. But that's just names, what you need is the power of a king or a noble. So imagine there is the Jump Gate Corporation. A large block of shares is held by one family, with some legal construction to make sure that it cannot be split. (A trust managing the portfolio?)

  • There are many other shareholders. Some big (think a duke who is a near-peer of the king) and some small (a back country baronet, not terribly important but still due his courtesies). These people would be upset if the company was attacked.
  • Through suitable education/propaganda, the non-stockholding commoners are taught that respecting property rights is important. After all, if the government could come and take Mr King's stocks away, they could come to the little guys and take their meager belongings as well.
  • Startup companies bid for the right to explore new jump gate connections.
    • When one does really well, it is purchased by Jump Gate Corporation in a deal that gives the startup funders a few shares in Jump Gate Corporation.
    • In theory, everybody can found a startup. In practice, one has to know how to write a business plan, find initial investors, apply for the jump gate contract, etc. There are snake oil salesmen who promote expensive courses at Jump Gate University (not legally affilated with Jump Gate Corporation), but the best way to learn is to be born or married into a family who has done it before.
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    $\begingroup$ The chief problem I see with the corporate approach is preventing competition that isn't startups. If the government of Ceta Alpha Five decides they need their own jump technicians, or the president of ConGlomCo decides your fees are outrageous, how will you stop a competitor that isn't small and vulnerable to buyouts? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence, convince the government to support your interpretation of patent law. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 6:13
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the USA comparison: The only real difference in execution between "King and Dukes" or "President and Senators" is how they are initially put in power, not in how they maintain governance. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal, not quite. Senators run for re-election, there are practical obstacles for just anybody to run but there are usually multiple candidates. That makes a huge difference. I read somewhere "the government lies, and the press lies, but in a democracy they don't tell the same lies." I think that doesn't do most journalists justice, or most politicians for that matter, but the fundamental importance having different choices is the point. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ @o.m. That's the "how they are put in power" bit - once they've been elected, the "enforcing authority" will stay the same, especially since the actual enforcement will be done by the Civil Service, the Police and/or the Military - none of whom will have been elected. It mostly comes down to logistics and communication $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 9:59

Dune by Frank Herbert is all aristocratic families under the emperor. They all sidle up to the emperor and his family for favors and try to stab each other in the back if not outright war. The emperor often pits two strong families against each other to weaken them so they are less of a threat to him.

It's a very common sci fi trope

  • $\begingroup$ If I remember correctly, the emperor had superior armies, and through that was able to keep in power, and provide checks and balances on the other Houses. Space travel was monopolized but not by the emperor, so that was a check against his power abuse. $\endgroup$
    – kutschkem
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 13:39

Another good example is David Webers'Honorverse (Honor Harrington) of Star Kingdom of Manticore. They have a king and nobles and the like and its all space opera.

  • $\begingroup$ They justify it as a way of maintaining control over the colony for the original colonists while increasing their population with new migration $\endgroup$
    – mgh42
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ But note that Manticore itself does not have an aristocratic government; it's rather something similar with the United Kingdom, with regular elections. On the other hand, Grayson definitely has an aristocratic form of government. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ Manticore is a constitutional monarchy, albeit one where the balance of power is a bit different from the ones on Earth currently. In the same setting, Haven was a democracy, then a People's Republic of Tyranny, and now back to a democracy. The Solarian League is theoretically a democracy but a hopelessly corrupt one. Grayson is initially more feudal than anything--the Protector was theoretically in charge, but only was so at the sufferance of the Steaders. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 15:56

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