Apologies for being a day later on my weekly post. I've been doing tons of reading for my upcoming residency and a lot of it has involved some in depth critiquing as well. Plus I had to do some research on my topic. Space opera...
Yes, you read right, I'm going to attempt to explain this popular phenomenon in fiction, film, and TV. I've heard of it before, probably even watched some. But I still wasn't really clear on what it was specifically and who had written this kind of work. Hopefully, this post will help clear up some of the mystery for those of you who were curious about this subgenre of science fiction.
Why, you may be wondering am I suddenly interested in space opera? I'll tell you. Tor is doing a open submission for novella length fiction all throughout the month of May. For those of you interested in writing this type of fiction here is the link to the submission guidelines:
If you submit, best of luck with your submission piece. For the rest of you who are just curious as to what space opera is, here is the definition that popped up when I searched for it on the internet.
I'm sure that makes everything clear as mud, right? Well...maybe not. Here is a little more info on what space opera is. It is a subgenre of sci-fi that has actually been around quite a while. It began to gain a following in the 1920's and 30's when science fiction magazines began publishing these space dramas and billing them as "super science epics" (Wikpedia, original sited wiki source, Gary Westfahl, Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction, 1 January, 2000). The term space opera is believed to be coined from the term soap opera, which were popular series radio dramas during the 20's and 30's and sponsored mainly by soap manufacturing companies. The main difference initially between space operas and soap operas being that space operas take place entirely in outer space.
Originally space operas were very optimistic in nature with larger than life super heroes fighting evil doers in some other galaxy or on another planet in outer space and trying to save humanity. The subgenre has involved over time, however, growing darker and moving away from "triumph of mankind" template and also becoming more scientifically rigorous in their world building and the technology used. Without bogging you down in too much information about this subgenre, this is a very short summary of what space opera is and some info on how it evolved.
Here are some examples of space opera in both literature and film/tv for your reading or viewing pleasure:
The Skylark series (1928-1965) by E.E. "Doc" Smith
The Foundation series (1942-1999) by Isaac Asimov
The Ender's Game series (1985-present) Orson Scott Card
Hyperion Cantos (1989-1996) by Dan Simmons
Saga of Seven Suns (2002-2008) and The Saga of Shadows (2014-present) by Kevin J. Anderson
Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1982-present) by Yoshiki Tanaka
Imperial Radch (2013-present) by Anne Leckie
Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas (1977-present)
Battle Star Galactica created by Glen A. Larson and Ronald D. Moore (1978-1979 and 2004-2009)
Babylon 5 franchise created by J. Michael Straczynski (1993-present)
Guardians of the Galaxy franchise created by James Gunn (2014-present)
(Both lit. and film/tv lists found via wikipedia.com)
Also, the popular video game Halo (2001-present) created by Bungie is considered a type of space opera (source, wikipedia.com)
So, there you have it. Space opera is a popular subgenre of science fiction that many of you might be familiar with and didn't even realize it. This is also what Tor is most looking for in their open novella submissions for this month. If this is right up your alley, then I hope this helps if you plan to take advantage of Tor's open submissions period. If not, well now you can sound smart and ultra informed about space operas. Maybe you can tackle this interesting subgenre yourself and be the next big thing in fiction or film.