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MDP
January 31st, 2005, 07:43 PM
Hi sffworld,

I'd like to open a thread on Space Opera. PLEASE tell me which is the best space opera you have read and why you liked it so much. Was it the science? The rip roaring adventure? The alien characterisation? The question's posed by the story?

I'll start be saying I'm a big fan of the later books in the Rama series by Arthur Clarke and Gentry Lee.

I thought their characterisation of Nicole Wakefield was interesting and series sense of wonder never failed to suck me along.

MDP

Rocket Sheep
February 2nd, 2005, 04:49 PM
Do Red Dwarf or HHGG count? I suppose they aren't true space opera. They're certainly not serious and probably not what you meant but they are travelling thru space, and they are a series. :)

Jacquin
February 3rd, 2005, 01:49 AM
Space opera has always been a term that confuses me. What exactly does it represent? I've been a fan of Iain M Banks for a long time, does that count???

*hangs head in shame*

Archren
February 3rd, 2005, 11:07 AM
When I think of space opera that I've enjoyed, I tend to think of things like Elizabeth Moon's Serrano series or Walter Jon Williams Dread Empires Fall series. However, some other people pooh-pooh these pretty harshly, so I sort of don't talk about them much. :o

On the other hand, Alastair Reynolds' "Revelation Space" and Charlie Stross' "Singularity Sky" also seem to have space operatic bits in them, and lots of people rave about those (I love them too!). So like Jacquin, I'm often really unsure of what constitutes "Space Opera." :o

Rob B
February 3rd, 2005, 11:39 AM
Fallen Dragon (http://www.sffworld.com/brevoff/70.html) was one of the best space operas I've read in the past couple of years, and overall, on of my favorite books from the past couple of years.

In every sense of the word, this was an epic novel of one Hero's life journey. Expertly drawn characters against the back drop of interstellar travel. There is a story within the story, there is a love story there is a quest aspect to the novel. Big ideas against a great canvas.

I also really enjoyed Walter Hunt's The Dark Wing, a novel we discussed, I think as the June 2003 SF Book Club (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5679) here at SFFWorld. I've got the next two books waiting to be read on my shelf. This had a military SF slant to it, but I really felt it was more Space Opera - a great clash between humans and an alien civilization. Great depictions of the aliens, their culture and beliefs.

Leiali
February 3rd, 2005, 11:42 AM
The Miles Vorokosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'll say it once, twice, however many times until everyone has read them...best space opera ever!!

OOPS, just realised I have totally intruded here, sorry, I thought this was the Sci Fi section. :o

Anyway, I shall stand by my previous comment. I read some sci fi but I don't really get on with hard science, she has a delightful mix of science, wit and plot in her books which makes them worth reading regardless of genre.

Soon Lee
February 3rd, 2005, 04:58 PM
My rather nebulous definition space opera:

Must have the following:
i) reminds me of E.E. 'Doc' Smith's LENSMAN series. We're talking 'first principles' here.

ii) clearcut goodies vs baddies (cowboys vs indians, police vs thieves etc)

iii) cosmic - on a planetary scale or larger. See i).

By that definition, my top 4:

1.Iain M. Bank: The Culture novels
- for me, the gold standard.

2.Lois McMaster Bujold: The Miles Vorkosigan novels
- much loved and for good reason. Great characterisation and humour.

3.Alastair Reynolds: The Inhibitors novels
- not as good as Iain Banks but is up there.

4.David Weber: Honor Harrington novels
- much more military SF. The earlier ones are better. Some of the prose can get turgid but enjoyable all the same.

Fitz,
Fallen Dragon has the same flaw as the Night's Dawn Trilogy; the deus ex machina at the end.

Hobbit
February 3rd, 2005, 08:26 PM
Hello all!

Ah - we're getting into categorisation (again!). When is a Space Opera a Space Opera (and perhaps more importantly, when is it not? :) )

Just to get the basics out of the way (and for those who are not sure of what it is!) then can I suggest the following threads from the main sffworld site? Then you can get on with naming your favourite/best/most excellent:

Good Space Opera? (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5416)

Favourite Space Opera (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=492)

and

Greatest space opera Sci-Fi series (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7052) (I've put this one in, even though it is more TV series than books.)

Hope this doesn't tread on toes! Not meant to, just trying to jog some ideas...


For me, the list is long and actually varies, depending on day, date and timezone. :)

Erm,for now: Asimov's Foundation series, first three Dune, (as ever, a sense of nostalgia for 'what you read first' applies here!), Dan Simmons's Hyperion/Endymion (and possibly Ilium/Olympos), Bujold's Vorkosigan series, Vinge's Snow Queen / Tiamat books (and Vernor's Darkness Across the Sky book). Iain M Banks, some CJ Cherryh, Peter Hamilton, Ken McLeod, Robert Read. And I'm sure this list will vary from some of the ones I've mentioned in the older threads!

Just ordered Scott Westerfeld's latest (soon to be released here in the UK, from Orbit, MDP!) as they are being hailed as 'better-than-average Space Opera'.

And just to upset things a little (sorry MDP!) I actually didn't like the later Rama books. And from a big ACC fan, that's a difficult admission to make. :)

IMO they were too slow, too drawn out and a very different style from the original Rama book, which I loved (but had all the things that people don't like about Arthur C's style!). (I'm big on the 'sense-of-wunda', which is something I like in SF / Space Opera, BUT I think Clarke's done it better elsewhere. *owch* :o ) Do we count 2001 as Space Opera? (I think I would.)

I also think others have tackled female heroines better.

Thinking further, What works for me in Space Opera (in no particular order): Drama. Characterisation. BIG ideas. Complicated plots, with lots of varied characters, human and non human! A sense of time and place: it has a history, a culture/s and lots of locations, to inspire that sense-of-wunda (again)... so in answer to your original post MDP - all of them! :D

Hobbit

MDP
February 3rd, 2005, 10:13 PM
Hello all!

Erm,for now: Asimov's Foundation series, first three Dune, (as ever, a sense of nostalgia for 'what you read first' applies here!), Dan Simmons's Hyperion/Endymion (and possibly Ilium/Olympos), Bujold's Vorkosigan series, Vinge's Snow Queen / Tiamat books (and Vernor's Darkness Across the Sky book). Iain M Banks, some CJ Cherryh, Peter Hamilton, Ken McLeod, Robert Read. And I'm sure this list will vary from some of the ones I've mentioned in the older threads!

Just ordered Scott Westerfeld's latest (soon to be released here in the UK, from Orbit, MDP!) as they are being hailed as 'better-than-average Space Opera'.

And just to upset things a little (sorry MDP!) I actually didn't like the later Rama books. And from a big ACC fan, that's a difficult admission to make. :)

IMO they were too slow, too drawn out and a very different style from the original Rama book, which I loved (but had all the things that people don't like about Arthur C's style!). (I'm big on the 'sense-of-wunda', which is something I like in SF / Space Opera, BUT I think Clarke's done it better elsewhere. *owch* :o ) Do we count 2001 as Space Opera? (I think I would.)

I also think others have tackled female heroines better.

Thinking further, What works for me in Space Opera (in no particular order): Drama. Characterisation. BIG ideas. Complicated plots, with lots of varied characters, human and non human! A sense of time and place: it has a history, a culture/s and lots of locations, to inspire that sense-of-wunda (again)... so in answer to your original post MDP - all of them! :D

Hobbit

Hi Hobbit,
and thank you everyone for venturing here to talk about this.

I thought the last Rama book was quite a sensitive handling of old age which is something not done much in SO. Biut it is different from the new wave of S.O.

Yes, I think Orbit are very excited about Scott's book 'The Risen Empire'. I've not read it yet (on the bedside table) but his earlier books show a beautiful writing talent.

Now I'd like to ask you to compare the big three Iain M. Banks, Peter Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds. Pros and Cons and differences. I'm currently deep into Pandora's Star and for the most part enjoying it.

MDP

MDP
February 3rd, 2005, 10:15 PM
When I think of space opera that I've enjoyed, I tend to think of things like Elizabeth Moon's Serrano series or Walter Jon Williams Dread Empires Fall series. However, some other people pooh-pooh these pretty harshly, so I sort of don't talk about them much. :o


Why is that do you think? I haven't read WJW, and have only read one of Serrano.

MDP