Best Space Opera

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Mithfânion, May 3, 2002.

  1. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Which series deserves this award in your opinion? I was thinking of either Hyperion or Hamilton's Disruption of Reality series, but I admit that I'm not well-read in Sci-Fi so there may be a lot I'm missing/
     
  2. Ladijen

    Ladijen mistress of pigeons

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    I've heard the term, but I've never been sure of it's meaning--what is "space opera"? Is it like a science fiction soap opera?
     
  3. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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  4. fortytwo

    fortytwo New Member

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    I've sen it described as "tales of adventure among the stars".So on that basis a good example would be EE Doc Smith's Lensman series.
    Perhaps "Star Wars" films might be another way of illustrating Space Opera.
     
  5. fortytwo

    fortytwo New Member

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    Please ignore what I posted above!Follow the link and get a much better idea than mine.....I must learn to scroll to the end of a thread before posting in future
     
  6. Ladijen

    Ladijen mistress of pigeons

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    Thanks for the link! It all makes sense now...

    I have not read most of the series' that were discussed, but of those I have read, I really liked the first few Dune books (not space opera, it was stated) and I am enjoying the Uplift series.

    It wasn't mentioned there, and maybe it is TOO light (or perhaps too cheesy?) for you experts in science fiction, but has anyone read the "Bio of a Space Tyrant" series by Piers Anthony? I thoroughly enjoyed those books--just plain fun!
     
  7. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    Pleasure! [​IMG]

    Pleased the link helps.

    Mithfânion - is it Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn series you mean? If so, out of the two you mention, Dan Simmons is the best, though I like Peter Hamilton. Simmons's works on so many levels - and I really liked the Endymion sequel too. Hamilton has the range (and weight!) of space opera - many many characters in many places and situations, though I have heard it said (probably round here!) that his style is very 'British' and that it can get some getting used to.

    As for 'best' soap opera....hmmm...probably would have to go for the obvious and say Frank Herbert's Dune, in terms of scope and depth as well as length.

    Hobbit
     
  8. Corwwyn

    Corwwyn Registered User

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    Yep, I've read the Bio of a Space Tyrant series and found it quite enjoyable.
     
  9. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Hobbit,I'm not sure. How many series has Hamilton written?

    I wonder what sort of style is defined as "british" [​IMG]
     
  10. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    Yes, I know what you mean, Mith - being British, it threw me for a minute or two. I think what was meant that it was in a rather calm, responsible 'stiff upper lip' style - Arthur C Clarke is the nearest comparison I can think of perhaps, or Stephen Baxter. (I'm not saying I agree with the comment btw!)

    That of course then begs the question 'if that's British, then what is XXX?' Something to think about for later, perhaps.

    To answer the other question, Hamilton has only really written two main series - the most well known is the Night's Dawn Trilogy.

    In essence they are:

    1. Reality Dysfunction
    2. Neuronium Alchemist
    3. Naked God
    but -
    4. A Second Chance at Eden is a book of short stories in the same series.

    There is a book that gives an overview (the Confederation Handbook) of the Night's Dawn series.

    His first series in the UK though was the Greg Mandel series. Mandel is a sort of a psi-boosted mercenary cyber-detective in a near future UK where the climate has changed and the country is run by multinationals and an extreme government.

    They are: Mindstar Rising (1993), A Quantum Murder (1994) and The Nano Flower (1995).

    Quite entertaining and perhaps easier to get into than the Night's Dawn series.

    Hobbit
     
  11. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Thanks Hobbit, it must be the Night's dawn trilogy then. I see the first book resembles what I thought was the overall title for the series.


    Hobbit, you've read a lot of sc-fi. Difficult as it is, what's your top 5?

    P.s.

    I did put Mote in God's eye by Niven and Pournelle on the list , that seemed like a good book to get acquainted with the genre.
     
  12. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    Not an easy one to answer Mith - like any book it's tied in with when you read it, what you were doing at the time and what you remember.

    However - here's a start (in no order of importance) - these will no doubt change when I stop typing (and there's more than 5!)

    OLDIES - BUT THE MEMORIES HAVE LASTED
    Dune - Frank Herbert
    Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester
    Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
    Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K leGuin
    Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M Miller
    Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
    Earth Abides - George R Stewart
    City - Clifford Simak
    Startide Rising - David Brin
    Moving Mars - Greg Bear
    Man in the High Castle - Philip K Dick

    OLDIES AND MORE PERSONAL
    Early Heinlein - probably his short stories most, so The Past through Tomorrow. The first 'real' SF book I read was Tunnel in the Sky - then read the rest!
    Foundation Series - Asimov - a little dated but still good;
    Childhood's End/Songs of Distant Earth/2001 - A C Clarke (one of my boy heroes - a little dated but the ideas and the optimism are great!)

    MORE RECENTS
    Mars Series - Kim Stanley Robinson
    Hyperion/Endymion - Dan Simmons
    Some Stephen Baxter (a modern AC Clarke, though I really hated their collaboration The Light of Other Days!),
    Iain M Banks - Culture Series - start with Consider Phlebas, though they get better,
    Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan Series,

    and I must admit that Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon was great.

    Hobbit
     
  13. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    ...and Frederik Pohl's Gateway....and Poul Anderson's Tau Zero....and CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station....and Joan Vinge's Snow Queen.....AND Ash, A secret History by Mary Gentle (it's both Sf & Fantasy...thoroughly recommended in its complete form.)

    *sigh...see what I mean?*
    [​IMG]

    Hobbit
     
  14. Raisuli

    Raisuli New Member

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    My personal favourite single such book would be 'Gateway'. K.S. Robinsons 'Mars' trilogy , even with all its faults, is my favourite space opera series.
     
  15. SusF

    SusF Who me?

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    Spiders series by W. Michael Gear was excellent.

    Warriors of the Spider
    Way of the Spider
    Web of the Spider

    I liked all of Gear's space opera books. I have not read his more recent stuff which he's written with his wife.

    Susan
     
  16. asimovian

    asimovian Aspiring Smart Arse

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    Ladijen, I would define Space Opera as "an adventure novel or movie with a space travel and other worlds or civilizations background".
    If you saw Space Odyssey 2001, that's a movie I would not call space opera.
    Examples, according to my definition, would be the Foundation trilogy by Asimov, or, as another poster mentioned, the Lensman series by E.E Doc Smith, which is probably the best example I can find.
     
  17. asimovian

    asimovian Aspiring Smart Arse

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    Hobbit, do you remember ever having read something about 'the Slan' or something or other of "the 'A'" ? Those books, to me, are pure and very high-order space opera, though a little difficult to read (according to my experience).
    I can't remember the author's name, but he was considered one of the greatest.
    In his novels he incorporated what he knew about 'General Semantics' by Alfred Korzybski, which is or was supposed to be very authoritative in some specialized field of psychology and I believe has even achieved some kind of cult status.
     
  18. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    Asimovian - Yes!
    It was A E van Vogt, famous for his space opera style - very dated now, but one of the 'kings' of the 1930's pulp Sf. The first book you're thinking of here is 'Slan',his first novel but originally published as short stories in 1940! - which was about a superhuman telepathic people of the future. It is often seen by many as their best memory of his work. Other famous books - The 'Weapons Shop of Null-A' is another one, as too the 'War Against the Rull', from which the following quotes are taken:

    ' A E van Vogt is truly a grand master of science fiction. He is to Canadian Sf what HG Wells is to the British variety or Jules Verne to the French. We all stand on his broad shoulders.' (Robert J Sawyer) .

    ' Nobody, possibly with the exception of the Bester of 'The Stars My Destination', ever came close to matching van Vogt for headlong, breakneck pacing or for the electric, crackling paranoid tension with which he was capable of suffusing his work.' (Gardner Dozois)

    My personal favourite though is 'The Voyage of The Space Beagle', which has clearly left resonances in the strship Enterprise and the Alien baddie in the novel is a definite earlier version of Ridley Scott's/Alan Dean Foster's.

    Van Vogt was always writing about supermen and beings and galactic events on a cataclysmic scale - everything writ large!

    The speed of things happening in Van Vogt's novels - galaxies colliding, planets destroying etc - tended to cover up the cracks in the implausibility of what was happening - you didn't really have time to consider what was happening!

    He did (rather unfortunately in my opinion) get rather caught up in the Dianetics thing towards the end of his life, which saw him looked unfavourably by many - consequently he has rarely been awarded the praise that many of his contemporaries said they owed him in inspiring them to write - see above for examples! Harlan Ellison, believe it or not, was a fan!

    Hobbit
     
  19. Moybin

    Moybin New Member

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    Personal favorite is the Jack Vance "Demon Prince" series. Doesn't get mired down in technology too much, spends a lot of time looking at human-human conflicts, and is a wonderful vendetta story. (Yeah, vendettas can be fun!)

    Probably the best space opera on film (my opinion only) is "Babylon 5". Hands down slugs the crap out of Star Trek, original and derivitives. More consistent. Tighter Universe, better aliens. Big major conflict that affects everyone, not "Wagontrain in the stars". How does that line go in "Stand by me"? Wagontrain, all they do is go, they never get anywhere" or something like that. Pretty much sums up Star Trek, too. As well as, "we'll just create some never-before-heard-of technology to get our dumb writers out of a corner". Hate that.
     
  20. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Surprised that Hobbit left out James Blish' Cities in Flight in the oldies but goodies category. And pleasantly surprised to find E.E. Smith's Lensmen series mentioned. Would add Jack Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond to the mix.