The authors of the SF genre have created many vast empires, strange cultures and unusual planets with bizarre environments, all fertile ground for the imagination to go wild (not affiliated with “Girls Gone Wild”). No one person could have possibly read them all - although I’ve given it yeoman’s effort. And, as it seems one purpose of a group such as this is to bring the works of SF to the attention of others that they might otherwise miss. It is also an opportunity to highlight those works that we consider to be exceptional.
What I would like to see are not just the titles of those works, but also, why you believe them to be worthy of note.
For empire creation, the award has to be to the master of the genre, Isaac Asimov, for the seminal work, The Foundation Trilogy. It is far more than a trilogy. It is a multiple book epic written over a 30+ year period. The original trilogy ( Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation) was just the beginning. The epic extended to, Prelude to Foundation, Foundation and Earth, Forward the Foundation, Foundations Edge. And, the whole series was tied back to the Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw series (general known as the robot series Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, et al).
The series even extended beyond his death as other authors added to the epic - Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear, Foundation’s Triumph by David Brin and Foundation’s Fear by Greg Benford.
Runner up (but by no means inferior), IMHO, is Frank Herbert’s Dune series which was also continued beyond his death by his son Brian and Kevin Anderson. While some of the later books by Frank begin to be mired down with mythic – religious themes, the continuing series by his son and Anderson gave the series a shot of renewed vigor.
What are your favorite novels of empires, cultures or strange new worlds?