Inspired by this question: How many of a Typical Sci Fi Army would you need to take a planet?

Let's have a Galactic Empire which spans the galaxy. The Empire is ruled by The Emperor from one central planet. As you guessed, we are in alternate universe where travelling and communicating faster than light is possible without breaking any laws or creating any paradoxes (one big handwave).

All the planets must obey strict Empire rules and pay a pretty high amount of taxes to keep the Empire's military running.

The army keeps everyone from rebelling against the Emperor, because if you do so, the Empire will use sheer amount of power on you, including blowing up your planet.

The "blow the planet" accident happened just once, but everyone knows that The Emperor is going to approve even such a terrible action as blowing you up, or nuking all the ground from the orbit.

Civil ownership of weapons is highly regulated, common citizen will get a maximum blaster. All higher grade of weaponry is restricted to the army, including ship shields and ship weapons.

All production of weapons is highly monitored and anyone producing weapons is painfully punished and this punishment is then broadcasted live in Empire news.

All the population is kept being broadcasted by Empire propaganda, including info how awesome being in the military is. Common military person is held on high standard, therefore military members are happy and consider The Emperor as the second best thing after sliced bread.

You are a member of one of the planets belonging to The Empire. Your planet is on the Galactic outskirts, with a relatively small population of 500 million people.

Thanks to the fact that you are in the "wild waters of the Empire," a fair share (30%) of the planet population are having rebellious nature.

Is there a chance to gain independence without being nuked?

Every single planet of The Empire has a military base and governor loyal to The Emperor (high rank military member, at older age). The communication inside the Empire happens instantly and military ships can travel from one edge of the galaxy to another in a year.

P.S.: No Star Wars reference. I am just bad in coming up with names

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Easy. Find and remove L. Skywalker's family from the picture in as violent a way as possible and frame the Empire as having caused their death. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ I think a lot more would have to be known about the "Empire's" military abilities, as well as the strength, training, weapons, and methods of discipline available to the garrison/rebels in order to answer this question reliably. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ I find the "military will not rebel because they have a high standard" line wrong. When you elevate them to that high standard they will be happy, after a few years/decades/generations they will consider that "high" standard the normal situation and will need more concessions to be placated. Otherwise, they will start bitching that they got to rule a frozen world while Ted who is dumber than a stick got a tropical beach world because he is the son of John, and all the like... $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Dec 16, 2015 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Why handwave away the utterly awesome way this situation is impossible? So much sci-fi throws away relativity as a nuisance, but relativity and the absolute independence it gives you is what makes distant space civilization interesting and different from our entire history of terrestrial expansion. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2015 at 3:52
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    $\begingroup$ Asimov, is that you buddy? $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2015 at 8:10

6 Answers 6


Make the empire forget that you exist.

The whole milky-way galaxy has about 200-400 billions of stars, most of them with multiple planets. That means the empire could measure up to a trillion planets. With such a huge empire it's impossible for anyone to have an overview of the complete empire. The only way to manage it is through a huge bureaucracy where everyone has their responsibilities and receives orders and reports from someone but nobody has any idea how the whole behemoth actually works. It just does.

By gaining a better understanding of the imperial bureaucracy, you might be able to forge some orders and reports or maybe hack an AI or two to shift responsibilities around until nobody is responsible for your planet anymore. No military patrols arrive, nobody collects taxes, nobody sends freighters, nobody comes to enforce laws, because everyone considers it the responsibility of someone somewhere else in the galaxy to make that happen.

Use the same method to cause the redeployment of all loyal military forces stationed on your planet to another spiral arm. They will comply, because they are soldiers and orders are orders. If the orders say to guard some nameless asteroid in the middle of nowhere, they will gladly fulfill their duty. It got to be of utmost strategical importance, or the all-knowing imperial bureaucracy wouldn't have given them that order. It might be less conspicuous to not redeploy all at once but instead withdraw them slowly, ship by ship and company by company.

When you then cut the communication link from your planet to the rest of the empire, nobody will feel responsible to investigate and fix the problem and nobody will feel the need to report the problem upwards the chain of command because their work isn't affected by it. It's somebody else's problem. That somebody doesn't exist anywhere in the empire, but they are not aware of that. So your planet will stay completely isolated.

With most of the governors troops away and no way for her to request support from the empire (even if she does find a way to contact the empire, it will take forever for her to find out who to contact, thanks to the bureaucratic chaos you've caused), you are free to do your putsch, assassinate the governor, and take her place. Soon your planet will be completely forgotten by the empire and you can rule it however you want.

A comment mentions: "The empire will reward any traitor. And surely quite a few businessmen on your planet will be off worse without the empire." Remember again that we are talking about an empire spanning a trillion worlds. In an empire of that scale, a report about a planetary-level secession movement won't be that extraordinary. It's an everyday routine event. Something that happens so often that it's not worth reporting to the emperor personally. It too would be handled by a bureaucracy.

The idea is that any whistleblowers won't be able to find a bureaucrat who considers it their responsibility to handle the report of treason. And even if they do find someone with the initiative to take care of it despite it not being their problem, that report will then get handed from bureaucrat to bureaucrat looking for the one responsible to investigate if the report is true and then organize the retribution strike. But it will never arrive at the right person because that person does not exist. It will eventually get lost in the web of bureaucracy.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you been reading Asimov's Foundation series? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Dec 17, 2015 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ So in essence you're proposing to defend by installing a planet-wide SEP field (hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Somebody_Else's_Problem_field). $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Dec 17, 2015 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Peteris mass-hypnosis technology could help, but it is not necessarily required to make this work. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Dec 17, 2015 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, but it only works if the planet has nothing important on it. If it happens to be the sole producer of the spice, you're out of luck. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2015 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ There is one flaw: The empire will reward any traitor. And surely quite a few businessmen on your planet will be off worse without the empire. $\endgroup$
    – Franky
    Dec 17, 2015 at 23:06

Be too important to nuke.

Make your planet the only supplier of a resource which is critical for the survival of the empire. Some examples:

  • Starship fuel
  • Exotic matter required for building advanced technology (like FTL drives or FTL communication)
  • A drug everyone is addicted to
  • Food (Earth is polluted and your planet is the only planet in the explored universe with an environment which allows large-scale farming)
  • Main production, repair and logistics center of the Imperial starfleet.
  • Home of the Imperial central bureaucracy

They can not nuke you, because that would be too much of a hit to the empire itself. Even a less destructive ground assault could cripple the planets industry for decades, which will in turn cripple the empire and weaken it so much that in a few years it will not just have one but a dozen of separatist planets to deal with.

By controlling the production you have a lever against the empire. You can always threaten to reduce the production or even sabotage it altogether. Making the empire dependent on you will give you a certain degree of freedom. You might still be officially a vassal, but practically you will have the freedom to govern your planet as if it were independent.

Just don't become too cocky, or the empire will try everything to remove you and replace you with someone who is easier to control. Expect the empire to use assassins, political intrigue to support your political opponents and divide-and-conquer strategies to split your planet into independent territories which are easier to play against each other.

For an example, check out Frank Herbert's Dune series. The titular planet is the only source of a drug which is essential for FTL travel. After a rebellion the planet gains independence because by controlling that drug they have the empire by the balls (the protagonist and rebel leader gaining supernatural powers during the rebellion helps, but is not strictly necessary for his success).

  • $\begingroup$ It seems a bit obvious and handwaved for me. It is indeed possibly the best way, but I find it difficult to justify having something so unique and such large quantities in your planet that you're immune too nuking. Its like thinking that the village with 50 habitants, hidden in the middle of nowhere has access to a resource unique to the village, and suplies the whole world $\endgroup$
    – Silver
    Dec 16, 2015 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Silver Isn't that how Marvel's Wakanda works with its unique supply of vibranium? Maybe not the most realistic of examples, but it certainly does the trick! $\endgroup$
    – Ordous
    Dec 17, 2015 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ yeah, tho, the thing is that wakanda is a whole country spluying the world. In this case is a planet suplying a galaxy, that has 14 billons earth like planets, with several several more billions of planets. I find hard to believe that only one planet has such macguffin, or that its supply its enough that the whole galaxy depends on it. Realistically speaking anything can be found anywhere in the galaxy, besides life. $\endgroup$
    – Silver
    Dec 17, 2015 at 16:26

Revolutions happen all the time here in the non-fiction world, but when you add the whole "get blowed up" risk to the works, it makes things rather difficult. You are going to have to be very patient, and accept that you may never succeed.

I suggest you start by taking inspiration from the Conch Republic. Capitalize on some minor incident committed by the emperor or governor, and publish a statement laced with enough satirical verbiage that most readers will assume it is not serious. If ever pressed, continue to claim the whole thing is entirely tongue-in-cheek.

From there, every additional step you take must be small and subtle. It will help if you can explain it away as just people helping people, like starting your own Department/Ministry of Interior but calling it "The Keep Our Parks Clean and Safe Initiative." Or your own police force under the guise of a neighborhood watch. Like the proverb of the boiling frog, you slowly undermine the authority of, and the populace's dependence on, the established government.

Above all, you must never allow a shot to be fired.

  • $\begingroup$ One important fact about the Conch Republic: The citizens there still pay taxes to the empire, I mean the United States. If they stopped, I am pretty sure the US government would crack down on this, hard. And taxes was one of the reasons the OP's Empire was disliked. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2015 at 10:13

Don't have a planet

The only reason that your planet is in danger of being nuked is that it is associated with you. Don't associate with any planets. If you are associated with a planet, leave.


If you have a planet and decide to rebel, steal a bunch of ships from the empire, park them in orbit, and let everyone know that you're rebelling. If they don't want to get nuked, they can leave on the ships. If they still stay, well, there are always casualties in any revolution.

Afterwards, scatter across the galaxy. Some people will want to settle on other planets. Let them. They risk being arrested or worse, but that's their lookout. You've done what you could.

Operate the rebellion from a fleet of ships. Steal resources from the Empire or accept donations from like-minded people on other planets.

Recruit from many planets

Better still is to never have a planet. Rather than recruiting your friends and neighbors, go to other planets and recruit like-minded folk from them. Concentrate on people who will join entire, without leaving loved ones behind. After recruiting, leave and operate elsewhere. After a successful operation, go back to recruitment on a new planet. Since you are constantly moving, you never leave the Empire a clear target to attack.

Note that it helps if you select planets on which to recruit where the Empire can't just blow them up. Planets that produce some critical resource are the best (as noted in Philipp's answer. Because you can choose where to recruit, this gets around the problem of being contrived. Yes, they are contrived--because the rebellion contrived them.

For operations, select planets that you wish the Empire would blow up. For example, the capital planet of the Empire. Or a planet that is mostly a military base. Etc. Arrange things so that destruction of the planet will weaken the Empire without hurting you.

Constrained from truly drastic measures, the lesser measures that the Empire is likely to pursue may both weaken the morale of those loyal to the Empire and turn people away from the Empire.


Create an army of droid-factory making robots and send them out to uninhabitable rocks with instructions to make millions of warrior droids - but only after they've made twenty more robots and sent them out to make more factories. After a few decades the warrior droids will be so numerous the Empire will have its hands full (provided the droids are only programmed to attack the Empire). After a while the droids will become out dated and easy to kill off, but meanwhile the Empire will be diverted away from your planet.


The "Make the empire forget that you exist." and "Be too important to nuke. " answers are neat but if we're in a galaxy/universe/shmultiverse far far long long time away ago, might as well setup some sci-fi tech.

Stealth/Decoy: Jam their radars, upload wrong coordinates ("Alright, we blew the rebel planet. Wait, can I see those coordinates again..?"), block signals, hack galactic maps. In short, disappear from "view".

Phase out: Can we move the whole planet to another universe for a couple o' hours (they did it in Stargate)? Maybe make it look as if we've exploded right before that.

Diplo/politi/espionage: Plant a little bomb in the emperor's head. You wanna blow us up? We'll respond in kind.


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