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Space Opera: Sci-Fi or Soap Opera?

Initially coined as an insult, the term ‘Space Opera’ has now become synonymous with melodramatic space adventure: books written as colourful and dramatic pieces of literature which largely explore the human condition and entertain the question of where humanity might fit among other, fictional races in the stars. To what extent is this insinuation that Space Opera might not be as high-brow compared to other books in the wider Science Fiction genre, correct? Is Space Opera the so-called ‘Soap’ of the Science Fiction genre, or is it more than its title would suggest? Indeed, would you agree with the negative connotations that imply this subgenre is a ‘lesser’ form of sci-fi, outworn and tacky? Or is it merely a different, and more interesting, strand of Science Fiction that is less concerned with the intricacies of actual science? Probably worth discussing some of the more popular, and well known, Space Opera books and series and explaining why they might be so popular (as some examples, see: Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhikers Guide’, Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’, Orson Scott-Cards ‘Ender’s Game’, Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Saga of the Seven Suns’).

  • Lucy, I separated my corrections by line, rather than commas, but they were "squished" together when traveling through cyberspace. Sorry about that. – Tigey 5 years ago
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  • It would be a good idea to go in further detail on the characteristics that define a space opera, and what distinguishes it from other sci-fi book. – thelordofmoo 5 years ago
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