Jean Chapman, 3/30/15
I love to read space opera. I really do. I just didn’t know it was called “space opera” until a few years ago. If you like the works of C. J. Cherryh, the Vorkosigan Saga by Bujold, the Honor Harrington books by Weber, or even the Star Wars movies and books, then you like space opera too.
What makes a science fiction work a space opera? Think of it as an adventure story in space. The science isn’t the main draw here; the characters and galaxy-spanning plot are the focus.
In my favorite space opera series, the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the diaspora from Earth resulted in three sub branches of the human race: Terran, Liaden and Yxtrang. There are ethnocentric segments in each of those branches, resulting in racism, wars, and isolationism. The books in the series include all those elements, plus giant space traveling turtles (the Clutch-whom everyone fears), mercenaries, wizards, anthropologists, explorers, Jutavas (the mob in space), babies, planets breaking apart, offended sensibilities (imagine saving face with the deadliness of the samurai), sentient trees, cats talking to robots, and clutch spaceships that are as big as moons.
Some of the other well-known space opera books include the:
- Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
- Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card
- Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
- Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi
- Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton
- Culture series by Iain M. Banks
- Expanse series by James S. A. Corey