Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Space Opera

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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 ūüėČ 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

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Sci-Fi Sounds

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In the past I’ve posted a couple of themed playlists on the blog, and shared my reading soundtrack. I thought it would be fun to do a similar thing for Sci-Fi Month, and share my favourite science fiction sounds.

The playlist is available to follow on Spotify, and the tracks are listed below.

Don’t forget to¬†check out the schedule¬†for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag¬†#RRSciFiMonth.

  • Life by Harry Gregson-Williams, from Prometheus– this is the song that plays when Shaw realises what she and the team have found, something every space explorer dreams of – extra-terrestrial life.
  • Pulstar by Vangelis – a lot of his music has a sci-fi vibe but I really love this one.
  • Icarus by Michael McCann, from Deus Ex: Human Revolution – a haunting theme song from a game based around a rather eerie prospect
  • I Am The Doctor by Murray Gold, from Doctor Who: Series 5 – apart from the main theme, this song really rounds up the series for me. It reminds me of all those moments where the Doctor and his companions seem truly stuck – and then the Doctor does something brilliant and saves the day.
  • Suicide Mission by Jack Wall, from Mass Effect 2 – with some definite sci-fi elements, this song brings back memories from a very emotional and tense part of the game.
  • Das Malefitz by Faunts, from Mass Effect 3 – the ending credits song for Mass Effect 3, this song encaptures the final moments of my favourite game series ever.
  • StarWaves by M83, from Oblivion – I have Sarah J. Maas to thank for this! When I met her I told her that my reading playlist is basically the same as her writing playlist (soundtracks), and she recommended this one.
  • End Theme by Vangelis, from Blade Runner¬†– sadly this one is a cover, because the original isn’t on Spotify.
  • Prologue by John Williams, from War of the Worlds– wonderfully creepy and foreboding, and complete with Morgan Freeman reading that amazing quotation from the original H.G. Wells novel (albeit slightly updated for the modern age).
  • Across the Stars (Love Theme) by John Williams, from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – even though it’s from my least favourite Star Wars movie, the love theme of Anakin and Amidala/Padme is just wonderful.
  • Duel of the Fates by John Williams, from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – because that is one EPIC duel.
  • The Bioluminescence of the Night by James Horner, from Avatar – because I wish I lived on Pandora.
  • Derezzed by Daft Punk, from Tron: Legacy – I don’t care what people say, I kind of loved Tron: Legacy. But you know what I loved more than the film? Daft Punk’s soundtrack for it.
  • Main Title by James Horner, from Aliens – you know what’s coming… I scream at the people in that film when they decide to leave the spaceship. NO!
  • I Am Legend – Epilogue by James Newton Howard, from I Am Legend – a post-traumatic events song that gives you hope.
  • Adagio in D Minor by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, from Sunshine – this is from a rather underrated sci-fi film, and the soundtrack has just the right mix of creepy and beautiful.
  • Sector 6 by Steve Jablonsky, from The Island – if you haven’t seen The Island, then watch it. It’s about cloning, and stars Sean Bean, Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johanssen.
  • Science is Fun by Mike Morasky, from Portal 2¬†– this whole soundtrack is insane, just like the game, but this song definitely has a frantic feel to it.

What do you think of my playlist? I tried to avoid main themes – what would you put in your own Sci-Fi Sounds playlist?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Top Five Sci-Fi Objects You Wish Were Real

Today’s Sci-Fi Month post covers the objects in science fiction I wish were real. From a mix of books, films and television, I wish I could use these objects in everyday life.¬†If you want to join in with your top five, please do! Don’t forget to¬†check out the schedule¬†for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag¬†#RRSciFiMonth.

1. The Sonic Screwdriver from Doctor Who –¬†Naturally. Number one, because it’s from Doctor Who, and number two because it is very useful. Just don’t expect it to work with wood. The Doctor has used this to escape many a sticky situation, unlock doors, scare off monsters, stop alien technology… and whilst I’m not expecting to need it for any of that, it would be a nice thing to have all the same!

(Artwork from dansimmons.com)

2. Martin Silenus’ house from The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons – Whilst that image is not of Martin’s house, it is of a farcaster. If you haven’t read Dan Simmons’¬†The Hyperion Cantos, then farcasters are essentially teleporters, allowing you to instantly get from one planet to another. In Endymion, the poet Martin Silenus has a house built from farcasters. Every room is on a different planet. Just imagine it – a conservatory on a sunny, tropical planet; an observatory on a planet where it’s always nighttime; a library where each section is on a different planet, and the planet is chosen depending on the genre.

(Artwork by Ernest Cline)

3. The VR Headset from Ready Player One¬†by Ernest Cline – Now whilst I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the world that Ready Player One is set in, I would love the virtual reality headset that Wade uses to enter OASIS. I play a lot of video games, so being able to completely immerse myself like Wade does in a game like Dragon Age (and see Alistair up close and personal, eh Paola? ūüėČ ) or Mass Effect would be amazing!

4. A podracer from Star War Episode I: The Phantom Menace – I was nine when Episode I was released. My dad borrowed the videos from a neighbour so that me and my sisters could watch the other films before seeing this one in the cinema, but it was actually Phantom Menace that grabbed my attention – because of the podracing. Breaks and lunchtimes during the last few years of primary school were spent playing podracers with my friends… and we used to play the Podracer PC game a lot.

5. Grace’s laboratory from Avatar – Because why would you not want to take a break from your real life to become a ten foot tall blue cat person?! Pandora is a gorgeous world, and there can’t be a better way to explore it than in the body of a Na’vi, naturally suited for the climate and terrain.

What five objects in science fiction do you wish were real? Join in the fun and make your own post, and then leave your link in the comments! Don’t forget to¬†check the schedule¬†to see what else is being posted today.

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: It Finally Begins!

After months of planning (I came up with the idea in August), Sci-Fi Month has finally begun! If you’ve missed my chatter about the event, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a month long event, spread over many, many blogs, to celebrate the wonderful genre that is science fiction! During this event, all my regular features will be suspended.

Today, all participants will be posting an intro post. Leave a comment if you link up, and I’ll be sure to visit your post and comment back.¬†Don’t forget to¬†check out the schedule¬†for the list of posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag¬†#RRSciFiMonth.

Let Sci-Fi Month officially begin!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I’m 22, from the UK and currently working as a medical receptionist. I’m working to save for my Masters degree, so I can go on and become a museum curator – however I really enjoy my current job too, which is a bonus! I studied ancient history and archaeology for my undergraduate degree, and graduated last summer.

Apart from reading (and sci-fi based things) I also love discovering all sorts of things about ancient cultures and archaeology, listening to music 24/7 (you can sample my tastes here), playing video games/talking out loud to video game characters/obsessing over Alistair with Paola, wasting far too much time on the internet and catching up with a million and one TV shows I still need to finish (here’s looking at you, Supernatural). I also volunteer at a local museum, where I record finds (I love finds!) on the database, and create handouts for the exhibits.

2. How long have you been a fan of sci-fi?

Eh, I’m not really sure. Probably since before I was really aware it was a genre… ever since I could read I’ve loved fantastical stories that took me to new worlds. I’ve always been a massive science fiction and fantasy fan (the two tend to go hand in hand). My dad loves sci-fi so I’ve often asked him for recommendations – or more recently recommended things to him! He totally wanted me to get Dan Simmons to join in this event – but I couldn’t find any way to contact him…

3. Why do you like sci-fi, and what is your favourite thing about it?

I guess I can sort of answer this in one sentence: because of all the amazing worlds and possibilities it opens up. It’s really cool to think that one day (not in every case of science fiction, but in many) something like that could happen. It’s not really a feeling you get with fantasy books. So in one word: the possibilities. My favourite aspects are time travel and space exploration.

4. Favourite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?
  • Books: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds,¬†Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Ughhh there’s so many more but I can’t list them all! I shall go into more detail later on in the month.
  • Games: the¬†Mass Effect trilogy¬†– it breaks my heart in so many places, and stamps on it – but I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Bioware make amazing games with compelling stories and fascinating characters and… well… who knew aliens could be sexy? But you know, I mainly play for the plot. Yes. Plus Borderlands 2 (Borderlands co-op is just the best thing). I have Deus Ex: Human Revolution waiting to be played, and I’m excited for it – I just need to complete several other games first…
  • Films:¬†Alien, Prometheus¬†(even though it’s kind of cheesy and full of plot holes I just love how it looks and the music is amazing) and¬†Avatar (can I live on Pandora please?). I also really love the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds (I just generally love that story) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (I know, I know – hardcore Star Wars fans probably hate me now. But this one brings back good memories of seeing it in the cinema as a kid and wanting my own podracer!). Looper was also pretty awesome.
  • TV shows:¬†Doctor Who (I bet you never guessed!),¬†Firefly (why was it cancelled??) and Torchwood.

5. What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

I will be posting every day, because I’m slightly insane. Here are just some of the things I have in store for you wonderful people: the top five sci-fi objects I wish were real, a publisher profile on Hodderscape plus a giveaway, an interview and giveaway with science fiction author Jaine Fenn, a guest post by Katherine Roberts about whether dragons are science or fantasy, and a tribute post to Mass Effect.

Of course, you can always view the schedule to see what I’m posting everyday, as well as view what other bloggers are posting!