For the love of space opera

This article was originally posted on Veronica Sicoe’s blog, and is re-posted here with permission.

Scifi battle in a space opera

Space opera is my favorite science-fiction subgenre. Heck, it’s my favorite genre altogether. It’s got everything in it that I could possibly want, from technological innovations (just like hard sci-fi but without all the science-talk), to action and romance, incredible stakes and mesmerizing worlds. And very often really cool aliens.

But T.D. Wilson says it best:

“Space operas can mix the romantic and dramatic elements with high tech or alien cultures often found in hard science fiction and make it palpable for readers of all ages and different backgrounds. The center focus is more on the characters and their struggles, desires, and conflicts than technology or abilities. Today, most Space Opera novels are part of a series, which allows the adventure and storyline to grow into a larger experience for the reader.” ~T.D. Wilson

It’s all of those things that make me love space operas, and more. It’s the size of the universe they depict; the grandness of their vision; the exquisite escape they provide. It’s also the sheer amount of ideas they combine, it’s like an all you can eat buffet for the price of a cup of coffee!

See, I have this need to get lost in fiction for a longer time than a cinema movie or standard standalone novel can provide. If I find a world and a cast that I love, I want to be with them through thick and thin, through various perils and trials, to witness their transformations, conflicts and destruction, to breathe the same air as them and see the same suns rise and set. I’m a fan of huge sagas, not so much of small, clever books. I mean, those are great and all, but they’re like a snack. Space operas are lavish banquets that can last for days (well, if you read some of the really big books out there, or the series, you’ll likely need weeks or longer).

As to writing space operas — maybe it’s because I can’t decide if I’d rather write action, romance, or xenocentric science-fiction. I’d rather write them all. But I don’t have the patience (or discipline?) to do so in subsequent books. And I need to challenge myself. I didn’t start writing science-fiction for money or fame or the privilege of calling myself a “professional author”. I started writing it for fun, and I’ll always write it for fun alone. So I will write what I love, dammit, even if it’s an enormous task, even if it’s terrifying and daunting and sometimes exhausting. I love it. I want it. So I write it. Never mind that I’m probably miles away from my favorite authors, or that I might not have more than ten, twenty readers when I eventually publish my scribblings. Fuck that. I can’t not write what I love.

Are you writing your favorite genre?

How did you realize it’s what you really wanted?

Oh, before I leave you, I wholeheartedly recommend you read some quality space operas, at least one if you’re not a die-hard fan. Choose any of them from this list, or from these awesome recommendations, or if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty of the genre, you can gobble this book up for free. There’s really no reading experience like that of submerging into a space opera. 🙂

And if you’re curious about my favorites, they’re Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos, Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorgosigan Saga. SO FAR. I’m about to gobble up Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space, and Iain M. Banks’ Culture soon!

This article was written by Veronica Sicoe, a science fiction writer who blogs at www.veronicasicoe.com.

  • Mikal Mcdonald

    the best space opera ever that i’ve experienced is the mass effect series.(i know its a game but still) it had varied and deep characters and unlike most sci-fi entertainment it introduced you to a diverse , living, breathing alien world ,thru which you made life long friends.( sounds corny but i’ll never forget them) and if someone will give it a chance i’m sure they’ll agree