Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Space Opera


This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Continuing my discussion of some of my favourite elements of science fiction, space opera is my final post on this subject. And just to clear things up, here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, and often risk-taking as well as chivalric romance; usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology.

Space opera is what I think of when I think of science fiction. It feels like the ‘classic’ sci-fi element and covers so many different possibilities: space travel, colonisation, alien contact, adventure, action, exciting technologies, a dash of romance. Many of the early works of science fiction fit the space opera sub-genre.

Here are some of my favourite space opera reads:
The Empress Game House of Suns Ender's Game

The Empress Game is a fairly recent release, and my review of it will be posted next month. House of Suns is an epic, sprawling space opera for fans of hard science fiction, whereas Ender’s Game is aimed at Young Adult audiences onwards. I’ll be sharing my thoughts of the film adaptation in a post next month.

And some space operas I’d love to read:
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach Dark Run Inherit the Stars

I can DEFINITELY think of a space opera video game, because it is one of my absolute favourites: Mass Effect. This game sees you traversing the universe as Commander Shepard, gathering your forces to defeat an ancient alien race known as the Protheans, who are hellbent on destroying all civilisation. I discussed my love for the series in a previous Sci-Fi Month post from 2013, which also included a guest post by one of the ‘Story Doctors’ who worked on the game. In fact I seem to have discussed the game quite a lot, as searching for ‘Mass Effect’ on this blog comes up with five pages of search results… So if you’re looking for a good, solid science fiction video game that lets you explore space and communicate (and er… more…) with aliens, then Mass Effect is the game for you!

Mass Effect

And of course, we can’t discuss space opera without mentioning Star Wars…

Who else is excited for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens? Just a few people I think… The Star Wars films are classic space opera, adventure with a dash of romance. I remember when I was young, my dad sat me and my sisters down and showed us the original trilogy shortly before we went to see The Phantom Menace in the cinema. Although that film is ignored by many a hardcore fan, I love it because it felt like my way into the Star Wars universe – it felt less complex than the original, which was good as I was young at the time, and I LOVED pod-racing. However, that film has one massive flaw and I won’t tarnish my blog with his name πŸ˜‰ Whatever you think of the Star Wars franchise, there’s no denying its impact on the space opera sub-genre.

Are you a fan of space opera? What does the term mean to you?

podrace gif


20 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month 2015: Space Opera”

  1. When I think of Space Opera, I think of Star Wars. We went to see it opening weekend in downtown Salt Lake City. I was 10 years old and the line went halfway around a city block. We were some of the last ones to get into that showing and the only seats were in the loge. I was just happy to be inside. To this day it’s the only movie I’ve ever been to where the audience literally stood up and cheered. The movie blew my mind and made me the sci-fi fan I am today. It’s a moment in time I will never forget.

    I loved Mass Effect. I didn’t even have much of a problem with the ending, but then the ride to me is almost always more important than the destination. And what a ride it was. I never replay games because there are always more games I want to play than I have time to play them, but I’m incredibly tempted to pick up the whole trilogy and play again. One of these days I just might.

    I’ve only read one of the books you mentioned, Ender’s Game, so thank you for adding a bunch more to my TBR list. I may even have House of Suns on one of my bookcases. Maybe I’ll move it up to the top of my list. I really want to thank you again for all your Sci-Fi Month posts. It has been a great tour through my favorite genre. May The Force Be With You.

    1. I can’t remember the last time I saw a line like that at the cinema! That sounds like an amazing experience though, with the audience cheering πŸ™‚ I did have a similar experience in the past few years but I can’t remember what the film was…

      The ending wasn’t AWFUL, it was just frustrating that your choices didn’t really have that much of an effect really. I did start replays but got distracted by some unplayed games – I think it’s better that I whittle down that pile first rather than doing a load of replays!

      House of Suns was quite tough at first – in fact I nearly gave up on it. But I reached a certain point and I was just blown away; it’s now one of my favourites. Haven’t read any of Reynolds’ other work though.

      And thank YOU for commenting and reading! It really means a lot πŸ™‚

    1. Try it, try it, try it! πŸ˜€

      Ender’s Game is a good place to start. There is quite a lot of controversy with the author, but the books themselves are really good.

  2. Space opera is sort of the default setting for me too, when it comes to scifi. Your “to read” choices look good…

    I remember being very young when I saw Star Wars, and waiting desperately for Empire. And when Empire came, I remember the snowspeeders and the speeder bike chase- on the big screen, for the first time- awesome.

    Great post.

  3. My favorite space opera is Firefly. πŸ™‚ And the Paradox series is really fun — the first book is the best, but Devi is a kick ass character.

    And I need to play Mass Effect. I am obsessed with Dragon Age, another Bioware game, and know that Mass Effect would also consume all of my attention. πŸ™‚ I borrowed the first two games from a friend, it is just a shift to go play it on my 360, which is hooked up to a different (read: smaller) TV than our Xbox One. I wish they would make them backwards compatible already.

    1. Oh I didn’t add it to my post! 😦 But it’s one of my fave sci-fi TV shows for sure. I’ll have to see if Fortune’s Pawn is in my local/nearby libraries.

      If you love Dragon Age (ALISTAIR <3) then I'm pretty sure you'll love Mass Effect. It has all the same wonderful relationships to build up and the depth is magnificent.

  4. Omg yes to checking out Fortune’s Pawn! You may want to have all three books in the trilogy on hand because it does pick up immediately after each other and it is just relentless (that’s my cue word to describe the trilogy as a whole). I hope you enjoy them when you get to it πŸ˜€

    Space opera is definitely the subgenre I read from sci-fi predominantly. I love the epic scale of it, the adventure and the conflict and the politics involved, the story arcs that the characters go through. I list it out in this week’s TTT but my favourite sci-fi shows are also space operas, haha, so it’s definitely my kind of sci-fi; I just love the storytelling involved there πŸ™‚

    1. I just looked at my library catalogue, it’s not in any library nearby 😦 I’ll keep an eye out for it 2nd hand, otherwise maybe I’ll pay the reservation fee (I hate that they have that!).

      Definitely, I agree with all of those reasons. Sometimes it feels like more ‘relatable’ sci-fi because we have all these scenarios that could easily take place in our own time.

  5. I also love space opera, especially on TV: Firefly, Farscape, Galactica, Babylon 5, Star Trek… It feels like space opera does especially well on TV.
    House of Suns is the only one I’ve read from your post.
    I love the adventure feeling more than actual war and I also enjoyed first contact with aliens.
    I haven’t played Mass Effect but you make it sound so tempting. πŸ™‚

  6. “However, that film has one massive flaw and I won’t tarnish my blog with his name.” LOL! I loved Phantom Menace too when it came out, and I even liked he-who-must-not-be-named… at first. Definitely not a fan of his now. I’m thinking The Force Awakens won’t subject us to anyone like him!

  7. I AM A SUCKER FOR SPACE OPERAS. A book has it? Hellllllo, I’m there!

    I can’t remember what space opera I’ve read, but the one that holds a big place in my Space Opera heart is Saga, the graphic novel. SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. And YES AT STAR WARS. THE MOST EPIC AND THE CLASSIC! πŸ˜€

    1. YES CEE!

      I’ve had a lot of recommendations for Saga, I should see if my local library has a copy. Although actually one of my friends may have it too…

  8. Space Opera is far and away my favorite genre of science fiction, in large part, I assume, because I was a kid when the original Star Wars came out, and it informed a lot of my initial passion for science fiction.

    It tends to be looked down upon by some in the SF community, but I refuse to listen to any of that negativity. Science fiction, to me, should first and foremost be fun, and that is what space opera is. Nothing makes me as inspired and excited about actual scientific discovery and space exploration like space opera, despite the fact that it is the least likely scenario to come to pass, especially in my life time.

    Mass Effect is fantastic, I’m definitely on board with you there.

    I’ve read Fortune’s Pawn and really enjoyed it and I’ve liked what I’ve read of the second book in the trilogy. I’d definitely recommend it, and would recommend Wesley Chu’s latest, Time Salvager. Looking forward to your review of Empress Game and your thoughts on the film adaptation of Ender’s Game.

    1. I feel that may be the case for many people, which is so wonderful πŸ™‚

      We shouldn’t look down on any form of sci-fi! Well, within reason of course… Space opera is definitely fun. I love the drama of it all too.

      Time Salvager was FANTASTIC. Not read anything else of Wesley Chu apart from that, but I’m game for trying more of his work now πŸ™‚

  9. Haha, yup, despite the derision from hardcore fans of star wars, I did indeed love the Phantom Menace. And TOTALLY loved all the pod racing scenes. πŸ˜€ Also, I feel like I’m the only person who has yet to play any Mass Effect – what is wrong with me?

    1. GOOD! πŸ˜€ Pod racing is amazing – we had a PC game of it and it was so fun. I used to bplay it with my best friend a lot.

      And you’re not the last.. but one of a few πŸ˜‰ Go try it, the Steam sale is on so it’s probably cheap right now!

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