Catherine Asaro (born 1955) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty set in the Skolian Empire. These novels, each telling a segment of a story that unfolds over several generations of characters, is one of a power struggle between two interplanetary empires. The Ruby Dynasty, (ancient rulers of the Skolian empire) while possessing empathic and telepathic abilities enhanced by tiny "pico" and "nano" technology, comprise a monarchy plagued by internal struggle and conflict with the elected assembly. The Eubian Traders, on the other hand, while larger in number and more successful economically, comprise a society built entirely of a slave hierarchy run by amoral Aristos, who, through genetic engineering gone astray have no capability for compassion, but rather experience pleasure in the form of "transcendence" through the projected suffering of powerful psions that have been kidnapped from the Skolian Imperialite.
A third but much smaller group, the Allieds, are an extension of a present-day Earth civilization who enter space travel only to find all worlds are already inhabited and thriving under either the Skolian or Eubian Empires. Their role in the series is that of a neutral party, interested only in the cessation of hostilities.
The Saga of the Skolian empire series of books details the adventures of main characters from both major empires. The plot of the book revolves around political intrigues, but also contains interesting subplots regarding physics, bio-enhancements, virtual computer networks, and romance.