So what are the Gonzagin influences? I find this sort of commentary very useful in constructing my “character-image”. The trait “Austere” suggests a lot of things to me though - from monochromatic military or Starfleet uniforms, to toga praetexta.
I’m very curious about the Casigurans too.
I’m actually fine with raw realism. The Iron Empires (and beyond them, the endless Void) has room for it all. The Iron Empires themselves are going to follow canon more or less. Outside of them, the sky’s the limit.
For some reason I am reminded of Against A Dark Background and The Algebraist, both by Iain M. Banks.