If there is ever a real interstellar Imperium in this universe — that is, a universe without FTL travel — it’s going to look like the leadership peak of the interstellar highways discussed in this video.
And the Imperial Nobility would be transhuman cyborgs, by and large. But at least they wouldn’t be pure data streams, which would have no interest in pushing atoms across interstellar distances in the first place.
(Assuming that digital data can be self-aware, something that I don’t grant. I still love those big fat data pipes, though.)
The STL interstellar highway universe even allows for piracy, surprisingly enough.
From the comments:
Few years ago I was in a discussion at the Club of Amsterdam, about Mars One. It was a great presentation and there was a guy there called Gerard van t Hooft, nobel prize winner. He said
“humans won’t do interstellar travels for millions of years”
To which I said, it can be done with interstellar highways, precisely the above. I pick arguments with Nobel prize winners. Fortunately I had a politician witness.
I don’t have the guts to do this, but I respect those who do… especially when they win the arguments they start!
Now, if you can find a way to get a good NPC like this: or, better yet, make this kind of man your character…
(To be fair: in the original, the challenger is a woman. Which merely proves that the world needs more intellectually aggressive men: men who can launch a challenge, get slapped down (which is going to happen), learn, and come back stronger.
How else does a wide-eyed recruit become a hardened veteran?)