Monday, May 14, 2012

What is 'Space Opera'?

Space opera is a subtype of science fiction, characterized by melodramatic, romantic or adventure plots, and commonly set in space. There is no universe agreement on which works of science fiction qualify as space opera.

It started out as a disparaging term, an analogy for 'soap opera' for romance-oriented radio and television programs, and 'horse opera' for westerns.

Critics of space opera said that if you take away the spaceships and blasters and substitute horses and six-shooters, you'd have a western. In other words, the science fiction setting wasn't necessary to the story.

Like many disparaging terms, space opera is now used by fans of the subgenre. Some works commonly claimed for the space opera subgenre:

Orson Scott Card's Ender series
Isaac Asimov's Foundation series
Perry Rhodan series
Star Trek
Star Wars
Battlestar Galactica
Babylon 5
Buck Rogers
Flash Gordon
Doctor Who
Space 1999

There is also a list of 'space opera media' at Wikipedia

I am a big fan of space opera. I think it has better characterization and more compelling plots than much hard science fiction, where the science comes first and if the characters turn out to be made of solid cardboard, so be it.

What do you think about space opera? Which space opera media do you enjoy? Enquiring minds want to know!


Tracy Krauss said...

I'm a space opera fan for sure. Still and forever will be a Trekkie - old and new. Star wars, Babylon 5, Andromeda, Battlestar Galactica ... all right up there. I also love Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card. what can I say? To me the setting does add to the plot, although as you said, its more about the relationship than the 'science' itself.

Nissa Annakindt said...

Trekkies forever!!! Though I'm not so sure about the new movie reset of the original Star Trek in which the whole crew is practically in the same Academy class--- I thought there were some advantages to the more mature classic Captain Kirk.

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