Saturday, February 17, 2007

Space Opera is Alive and Well!

One of the Yahoo groups to which I subscribe is for fans of Romantic Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is something I often read for fun. There are several sub genres within this off shoot of SF, including paranormal romances, various versions of fantasy, futuristic romances, and space operas. Some of the newbies to that list have been asking for recommendations for lovers of space opera, so the old hands (including yours truly) have been making lists of our favorite titles, authors, and series. No such list could be complete without the space operas of Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, David Weber, Catherine Asaro, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

However, many of the titles we were mentioning have been around for several years. Bujold began her Vorkosigan series in the mid-eighties and has been writing fantasy of late. Elizabeth Moon has a new series going which is good, if not quite as memorable as some of her previous efforts. Weber’s works have suffered from bloating and poor editing for some time, so I only mention his earlier works when I make such a list. Asaro seems to be publishing more than ever, and she has multiple story arcs going with multiple publishing houses. Her Skolian series is in the best tradition of space operas. Lee and Miller’s Liaden series is getting a bit long in the tooth, but I love their characters, and it is a real pleasure to introduce them to new readers.

Space opera was once a derisive term, a sort of blending of soap opera and bad science fiction, wherein all sorts of license is taken to create action filled plots, and an attitude which says, “who cares if the physics works?” With the popularity of Star Trek on the small screen and Star Wars on the big screen, space opera has become much more main stream.

In literature, too, the space opera seems to be doing quite well. Baen Books specializes in this genre, and some interesting new ventures are embracing it as well. A new ezine, RayGun Revival, has some gorgeous artwork and publishes serials, short fiction, and even a poem now and then. This one, obviously, is going for a retro look and feel. A very new site, the Quantum Kiss is devoting itself to romantic science fiction, and I am interested to see how that will take shape. I’ve mentioned eBooks in other posts, but some of the best electronic titles belong to some sub-genre of SF.

Of course, my own Trinity on Tylos pays homage to the science fiction stories of yesteryear, as well as focusing on themes which matter in our time, including the concepts of sacrifice and the survival of a species.

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