There is a new experience in science fiction on its way to you.
It comes from the familiar minds of Bernard Sell and yours truly. Yes, you should be scared.
The concept is but a mere collection of cells right now, the idea sperm having only just struck the creative egg mere days ago and the plotline only now beginning to gestate. You may know this: the story will unfold in a serial of episodic posts on a blog yet to be created. The characters themselves will have Twitter accounts, broadcasting their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on their situation to the cyberverse writ-large. And it will be space opera.
“Space opera?” you ask with a near involuntary wretch. “Isn’t that a pejorative term for the most derivative type of science fiction?” True, what has been termed “space opera” by literary critics generally lacks the substance of so-called “hard science fiction.” The latter genre, ideally, goes into depth regarding the technology and/or scientific process at work in the story. Just as any work of quality literature does, it also examines the psychology of its characters, their emotional response to what they’re involved in, and hopefully makes a critical statement on an aspect of the human experience. If I may be so bold, that is what I try to do with the majority of my fiction writing.
Well not this time, baby! You can expect to read a sweeping epic, a saga that spans the reaches of space. You will witness entire civilizations in a battle with the highest stakes. The heroes will come to feel the greatest of victories and the most crushing of defeats. People will fall in love while others will thirst for revenge. Villains will plot and laugh while space stations burn. The stars will flow with the blood of both the guilty and the innocent alike. Spaceships will explode from laser fire and hot women will take showers. That’s space opera.
In truth, the phrase “space opera,” like most any other moniker for a literary genre, is almost impossible to accurately define. The best I can give you are a few examples from diverse media that are representative of the genre.
There are any number of books that could be called “space opera” science fiction. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and a few of the books by Ian M. Banks fit the bill. Probably the best example in written form, to my mind anyway, is the pulp series, Perry Rhodan. In comic books, nobody does it better than writer and artist Jim Starlin (himself the subject of an upcoming post), the man who brought us Adam Warlock and Dreadstar.
Radio serials had their own space operas once upon a time with Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Television and movie examples are more obvious. Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Babylon 5 all work. Actually, as my wife is fond of saying, anything with “Star” in the title is usually a pretty good indicator of what to watch (or in her case, what to avoid.)
Why am I doing this? As I pointed out in an earlier post, I love Star Wars. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if not for that film. I want to go back to that joy I felt in 1977 when first seeing that film, capturing “the good old stuff” as Brian Aldiss once called the subgenre. This is not being written on spec for publication or monetary gain, only for fun. I wish only to move spaceships around in my head, to explore strange, alien worlds in my imagination, to root for androids wishing for status as living things, and to wonder to super powered beings. And why not? Even Aristotle recognized the need for “spectacle” in the Poetics, so how can entertainment be all that bad?
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