Trend Watch: Space Opera Revival In 2011

Dramatic, celestial adventures that often romanticize space, dubbed “space operas”, have been popular since the pulp stories were published in sci fi magazines, such as Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction, in the early 20th century (author Jamie Rubin has a blog series revisiting Astounding Science Fiction, which you can learn about here). Popular in the early and mid twentieth century, space operas' heyday is generally considered the 1930s mainly because this is when E.E. "Doc" Smith published a short story that would become his Lensman series, which was runner up for a Hugo Award for best All-Time Series. And while there are dozens of sci fi plot lines that have become popular over time, traveling beyond the stars never seems to get old. In the past several years, space opera has seen a come back, with many authors putting their own spin on the classic space travel trope. 

Today we take a look at three 2011 titles that prove this subgenre is still alive and kicking:


Count to a Trillion
By John C. Wright

John C. Wright has received plenty of praise for his elaborate Golden Age series, and Count to a Trillion is full of his signature dense writing. Filled with enough math, physics and other hard science references, and complete with a romanticized space craft (if this story had a heroine, it would be the NTL Hermetic), this story has many classic space opera elements. Wright stays true to the Golden Age while packing the story with plenty of action and prompting the reader to ponder the possible fate of the Earth's future.

Read The *Web Exclusive Review* >>


By Jack McDevitt

The latest installment in McDevitt’s Alex Benedict novels follows Benedict and his right hand man Chase Kolpath as they take on another intergalactic mystery. McDevitt’s fascination with what lies beyond the stars, specifically extraterrestrials and artificial intelligence, is prominent in his stories. In Firebird, Benedict and Kolpath are led to Villanueva, a planet taken over by menacing AIs, in order to find a missing physicist. Filled with plenty of physics references and suspenseful moments, McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series illustrates the successful weaving of space opera elements with other genres.

Read The Review >>


Leviathan Wakes
By James S.A. Corey

James S.A. Corey, the pen name of writing team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, begin the Expanse series with Leviathan Wakes. It is another example of a sci fi mystery with space opera trappings. Humans have started colonizing space, including Mars and the moon, and the clash between planets means a full-fledged war is boiling. When Jim Holden and his crew come across an abandoned ship with a big secret, will it be the tipping point? With equal amounts of suspense, action and muddy politics, Leviathan Wakes will leave readers anxious for the series second, Caliban’s War, set for release in June 2012.


What space opera story would you suggest to a friend? Let us know in the comments below. And for more genre coverage be sure to visit RT’s Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Page!