a subgenre of science fiction which uses stock characters and settings, especially those of Westerns translated into outer space; a genre of science fiction in which the action spans across a galaxy or galaxies; a work of these genres, regarded as being of an unsophisticated or clichéd type
In these hectic days of phrase-coining, we offer one. Westerns are called ‘horse operas’, the morning housewife tear-jerkers are called ‘soap operas’. For the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn, or world-saving for that matter, we offer ‘space opera’.
Great stories must be logical and soundly motivated; and it is in these respects that most ‘space-operas’—as well as more conventional stories—fail.
It would be easy enough to cook up another space opera.
In space-opera, Mars takes the place of Arizona with a few physical alterations, the hero totes a blaster instead of a six-gun.
In a space opera, control of the lines of power illuminates the world, making it comprehensible to the hero at the reins, and to the reader.
What space opera does is take a few light years and a pinch of reality, and inflate thoroughly with melodrama, dreams and a seasoning of screwy ideas.
He would go on to produce a number of thoughtful space operas and somewhat more unconventional sf novels in quick succession.
Worlds are colonized, civilisations fall, rayguns are used—but…Alastair Reynolds is playing a more complex game… He is taking the stuff of space opera and remaking it into something new—something that doesn’t eschew the pulpish romanticism of space opera’s roots, but seeks to transform it into romanticism better suited to modern science fiction.
Space opera has always carried a lot of baggage, thanks to its roots in imperialism, colonialism and the myth of the rugged explorer who brings civilization with him. It didn’t help that Smith started introducing themes of eugenics into his Lensmen novels, and notoriously racist editor John W. Campbell inserted his ideas of the ‘superior man’ into many of space opera’s formative works.
'Bob' Tucker in 'Le Zombie'
Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.