The New Space Opera

A while back I wondered if Australia was undergoing a re-surgence in "space opera" - a sub-genre of science fiction. Jason Nahrung, in "The Courier-Mail", certainly seems to think so.

For those wondering what this is all about, Wikipedia says the following: "Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes romantic adventure, and larger-than-life characters often set against vast exotic settings...'Space opera' was originally a derogatory term, a variant of 'horse opera' and 'soap opera,' coined in 1941 by Wilson Tucker to describe what he called 'the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn' -- i.e., substandard science fiction. 'Space opera' is still sometimes used with a pejorative sense...Eventually, though, a fondness for the best examples of the genre led to a reevaluation of the term and a resurrection of the subgenre's traditions. Writers such as Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson had kept the large-scale space adventure form alive through the 1950s, followed by (to name only a few exemplars) M. John Harrison and C. J. Cherryh in the 1970s and Iain M. Banks, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Paul McAuley in the 1980s. By this time, 'space opera' was for many readers no longer a term of insult but a simple description of a particular kind of science fiction adventure story."

The best example of the genre on televison at present is the updated version of Battlestar Galatica, but, as Nahrung notes, it's not only on the small screen that space opera is making a come-back. "With several book releases looming on the horizon, the next 12 months will be big for Australian space opera.

"Brisbane writer Marianne de Pierres launches her universe-straddling series with Dark Space in May, and fellow Queenslander Sonny Whitelaw has the latest in her Stargate SG-1 novels -- Roswell, co-written with Alice Springs writer Jennifer Fallon -- hitting the shelves this month. Perth editor Jonathan Strahan combines with America's Gardner Dozois to launch an anthology of space opera short stories in June, and Adelaide's Sean Williams puts musician Gary Numan in space with two stories set in his Astropolis universe, and returns to the Star Wars universe with a game tie-in."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 16, 2007 8:51 AM.

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