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Old, Closed Posts > Space Opera Theme Books Needed

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message 1: by Nick, Founder (In Absentia) (last edited Nov 23, 2008 03:18PM) (new)

Nick (nickqueen) | 311 comments Mod
Space Opera wins as the theme for January! Now we need books. Rules follow:

One suggestion from each member and no author that we've already read.

No limit! Having considered both sides I'll go with all sorts of suggestions. Just no huge, humongous lists please!

Have at it!

message 2: by Dylan (new)

Dylan (dmfriend26) | 10 comments So what is space opera? What are some examples?

message 3: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1637 comments I wasn't in this group from the start, Nick. Do we have a master list of everything we've done posted somewhere?

message 4: by Brad (last edited Nov 28, 2008 06:23AM) (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1637 comments How about Player of Games or Feersum Endjinn, by Iain Banks? They're pretty space opera-y.

message 5: by Nick, Founder (In Absentia) (new)

Nick (nickqueen) | 311 comments Mod
All the book's we've read or will read are here:

message 6: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 42 comments Count me out. Space Opera is just about the only theme in SF that I wouldnt touch with a 10-foot pole. Looking forward to December and February though :D

message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy (michaeleconomy) A Fire Upon The Deep? i dunno if that counts as opera too much

message 8: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1637 comments Thanks for the link, Nick.

message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 35 comments Jeeze, like I remember all the books we've done...;-)

Space Opera begins with either E. E. "Doc" Smith's "Skylark" series or his "Lensman" series. This has it all -- Subgenius* physicist heroes with beautiful wives and sweethearts, B.E.M.s of every description, widespread nudity (but absolutely no actual "sex"), faster than light drives with "accelerations of millions of lights" (a phrase that causes me physical pain AS a "Doc" physicist:-), intergalactic war on drugs, and a certain trans-Neitzchiean Uberman thing transcending all human history.

Amazingly, for all the schlock, they're a damn good, highly entertaining read, no sillier that ERB's Mars series but a bit more up to date (for a date in the 50's, that is:-). I'd cheerfully reread them and have read both series a few dozen times already.

I have no idea if they are still in print, however. Maybe via Amazon or some POD thing. They'd still be in copyright (for another ten or twenty years I think) so I doubt they are out in the POD reprint lists yet, but maybe whoever is publishing it is doing small runs from time to time to keep them listed. I think I've seen them in bookstores in the last decade.

Luke Skywalker and the Jedi owe a large debt to the Lensmen. This is true pulp at its finest.


(Who has been WAY to busy to play much this semester, but I do still try to track the group from afar...:-)

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy (michaeleconomy) so we're gonna be giving this page a little more prominence in the future, but heres a site-wide list of space-opera shelved books:

message 12: by Jakub (new)

Jakub (jnareb) | 29 comments Either On Basilisk Station or In Fury Born by David Weber (the military science fiction subgenre of space opera. I don't remember if either of those was done already.

I really likes whole "Vatta's War" series by Elizabeth Moon (somobody already recommended).

message 13: by Jed (new)

Jed (specklebang) | 109 comments I think I'm not a "space opera" person. I went to the list suggested by Michael and I only have read one book listed, Use Of Weapons by Ian Banks.

I wish I could tell you that I loved that book because I am always looking for new authors. I rated it 3.5 stars which means I kept it to possibly lend to others. I probably won't read anything else by Banks. Arriving by FTL with a talking hyphenated name drone and then using a sword was a bit too jarring in it's incongruity.

Would Neal Asher be space opera? Like Gridlinked. I love Neal Asher but I consider him to be hard boiled SF noir. No romance!

message 14: by Robert (last edited Nov 21, 2008 06:08PM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 35 comments Silly me: Of course it is in print. I check Amazon and both series are still available. The first books are: The Skylark of Space and Triplanetary for the Skylark and Lensman series, respectively. And the Skylark series dates from 1928! This actually increases my respect, as its central theme is the development of "atomic energy". Confusing a velocity with acceleration and just ignoring relativity, well, SF authors hated relativity and energy conservation (and still do, really). Don't let it get in the way of a good yarn.

BTW, my reference to Subgenius in the previous post should take the curious here:

where you will learn about J. R. "Bob" Dobbs and Slack. Bob is a dead ringer for Richard Seaton, the protagonist of Skylark, right down to the pipe...;-)


message 15: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 35 comments From the list, David Brin's Uplift series is actually some of the best SF I've ever read, but then, I really like Brin. Too good to be properly considered "space opera" (which to me conveys a certain essential cheesiness:-) but definitely a damn good read.


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy (michaeleconomy) Too good to be properly considered "space opera" (which to me conveys a certain essential cheesiness:-) but definitely a damn good read.

this is the one with the talking dolphins right? :D

message 17: by Terence (new)

Terence (Spocksbro) | 97 comments "One suggestion per member please Terence."

This is a rule? I thought we were just brainstorming.

Well, if I'm in transgression, mea culpa.

message 18: by Matt (new)

Matt (gojiro0) | 2 comments Doesn't look like this group has read Hyperion yet (Dan Simmons). Great example of the space-opera but through a truly literate lens. 'course, I'm a Simmons fanboy.

message 19: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca Space opera is characterised by big, romantic, possibly melodramatic adventure tales set primarily in space, usually involving fleets of spaceships, federations, empires or coalitions, powerful heroes and dastardly villains and large dramatic gestures.

Not sure if this would qualify as "space opera" on the melodramatic factor, but I enjoyed Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance series. The first book is Turning Point. It also didn't have clear heroes vs villains, at least in the later books.

message 20: by Laurel (new)

Laurel I've heard good things about Jack Campbell and Lois McMaster Bujold. But, I'm more of a fantasy reader, so clearly need guidance in this area!

message 21: by GW (new)

GW Pickle (GWPickle) | 13 comments Nick
Can I nominate a book I wrote? It's military space opera (no aliens). No it is NOT self published. It can be ordered from Amazon or B&N.
I'll wait for your reply before I make my recomendation.
G W Pickle

message 22: by Dima (new)

Dima (d1ma) | 8 comments I just recently finished Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton. It has almost everything: mysterious aliens, faster-then-light travel, war, sex, conspiracy, betrayal. I really enjoyed it. Though I think it could have been made a little bit shorter without any damage to the story :)

message 23: by Thomas (last edited Nov 22, 2008 02:35AM) (new)

Thomas | 255 comments The Gap into Conflict The Real Story Gap 1 by Stephen R. Donaldson is the first in a series of books which adapt Wagner's Ring Cycle into a story about spaceship pilots. It's hard to think of a more operatic way to write SF.

A word of warning. While I think the series is well done, it's not for the squeamish. About half of Book 1 is devoted to one character raping another; this sets up useful narrative conflict, but it may be unpleasant for many readers.

message 24: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge...already nominated by MICHAEL above. It is certainly space opera, but it is "new space opera" which can lean more toward the "hard SF" side of things.

In this Hugo-winning 1993 SF novel, Vernor Vinge gives us a wild new cosmology, a galaxy-spanning "Net of a Million Lies," some finely imagined aliens, and much nail-biting suspense.

Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unguessable, godlike "Powers." When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilizations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.

Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the doglike aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.

Vinge's climax is suitably mindboggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness.

message 25: by Jakub (new)

Jakub (jnareb) | 29 comments Why the limit of one book for suggestions? I understand one book to vote for... well, I can also understand that you want to limit number of suggestions.

message 26: by Charles (new)

Charles (lustephelo) The man who never missed, Steve Perry

message 27: by John (new)

John  (JohnAnealio) | 17 comments Mike Resnick's Mutiny from his Starship series.

message 28: by Marc (new)

Marc (AuthorGuy) | 309 comments Anything by R.M. Meluch. Sovereign and The Queen's Squadron are my favorites but likely out of print. Here's a new one:

Wolf Star

message 29: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments Why the limit of one book for suggestions? I understand one book to vote for... well, I can also understand that you want to limit number of suggestions.

These are the nominations that will end up in the poll that we will vote for. I think the "1 per" limit is to keep the poll from getting out of hand.

message 30: by Nick, Founder (In Absentia) (new)

Nick (nickqueen) | 311 comments Mod

I'm just trying to keep the poll list frm goig crazy. Of course, if others are mentioned I'm not going to shoot anyone...


message 31: by JuliAnna (last edited Nov 22, 2008 10:29AM) (new)

JuliAnna | 53 comments I understand the desire to keep the number for the poll from getting too long, but I would hate to curtail peoples recommendations of good books. I like Bunny's suggestion. Go ahead and tell us those you would recommend, but limit your nomination to one book.

Thanks to all for the great recommendations that I've gotten from these discussions. I especially love it when folks include a sentence explaining why they chose to recommend something.

message 32: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey (JWhitsitt) | 1 comments Light
by M. John Harrison

message 33: by Dylan (new)

Dylan (dmfriend26) | 10 comments How about the first star wars book. I think it's called Darth Bane: Path of Destruction.

message 34: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 1 comments I noticed someone mention "Trading in Danger" by Elizabeth Moon. That's got my vote.

message 35: by John (new)

John Karr (Karr) | 32 comments But in space, no one can you scream, much less sing...

message 36: by Mary JL (last edited Nov 22, 2008 05:48PM) (new)

Mary JL (MaryJL) | 181 comments I will recommend the book "Galactic Patrol" whic is book 3 of the Lensman series by E. E. Smith.

Note: Galactic Patrol was actually the first Lensman story to appear (in the s. f. magazines). Triplanetary (Lensman #1) was rewritten when the Lensman series was issued in book form. And "First Lensman" (Lensman #2) was actually written AFTER Galactic Patrol as a link between Book #1 and Book #3.

The first two are prequels and can be read later; also of the six books in the Lensman Series, Galactic Patrol is probably the most representative of space opera.

message 37: by Jensownzoo (new)

Jensownzoo | 201 comments Would something like Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon be appropriate for this sub-genre?

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold

If people want to recommend other books (but nominate just one), that would be great - it would help people like me! I recently read Grimspace and Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre and absolutely loved them - definitely space opera, I think, and really fun exciting reads.

I loved Consider Plebus, that was an excellent book. I didn't know it was considered Space Opera but the sci-fi sub-genres are pretty hazy to me.

Oh this is going to be fun!

message 39: by Jensownzoo (new)

Jensownzoo | 201 comments That's good to hear, Shannon. I picked up a copy of Grimspace for my TBR pile a few weeks back. Will push that one a little further forward in the queue.

message 40: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments So far, I really like the following nominations:

Light - Harrison is an excellent writer and this is supposed to be pretty weird and good.

Young Miles - Probably the best modern representation of space opera. Not read this one and they aren't really what I like to read but fits the theme really well.

A Fire Upon The Deep - A bit of hard SF mixed with space opera. This is kind of the next stage of space opera, with people like Stross, Alistair Reynolds, and Banks being big contributors. This is much more my kind of SF than classic space opera.

Hyperion - Great book with excellent writing. However, it kind of requires you to read the sequel to get any kind of closure (which I found a bit disappointing).

On Basilisk Station - This is the more military space opera that is pretty popular now. Never read these because I've heard the writing is sub-par but lots of people like them so I wouldn't mind giving it a shot with the group. Others in this category would be things like Old Man's War and The Forever War.

message 41: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 894 comments I recently mooched Hyperion and On Basilisk Station. I also want to read Old Man's War but don't currently have a copy in my possession.

I'm looking forward to reading anything nominated and ultimately voted upon in this sub genre of science fiction. I can't make a recommendation though because I've never read a space opera novel (that I know of). :)

message 42: by GW (new)

GW Pickle (GWPickle) | 13 comments David Brin's Uplift series is good. I also like
Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer very much.
I'd like to nominate my book SENTI, BUT I WON'T. IMHO it's a great book, yes I did write it and my opinion is biased, so that's why I'm NOT going to nominate it. SENTI got good reviews and when my first (E book) publisher (StarDust Press) went out of business, a traditional publisher (Trytium Press)republished it as a paperback.
The Lensman series by E. E. Smith. is another excellent series.
If I had to nominate one I'd nominate Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer.
G W Pickle

message 43: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 35 comments (To Michael) Talking Dolphins and (in Sundiver talking sophont Broccolli.

And yeah, it does have enormous space battles, cosmic billion year old conflicts, religious mania, and so on.

But the SCIENCE is too good to really be cheesy. Of course Brin has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics IIRC, so this is only to be expected. Even the talking dolphins make a lot of sense as an extrapolation given our rapidly expanding ability to manipulate genes. In a decade or two we could actually begin to practice "uplift". Hell, in a way we've been doing so for years -- look at dogs. But what we've done so far is nothing compared to what we can and will do when we can actually splice genes into eggs to form new species or radical alterations in old ones "deliberately".

Which we do already -- but only in e coli and the like.

That's the thing about Brin -- his work has more the feel of genuinely visionary classic science fiction more than space opera, except for the space war and talking vegetable thing...;-)


message 44: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments I would love to read Pandora's Star someday but it is huge. Plus you have to read the sequel which is equally huge.

This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For I really disliked Light. I found it to be too random and impenetrable.

message 46: by Jakub (new)

Jakub (jnareb) | 29 comments I know I have put recommendations already, but I'd like to point out bit untypical space opera by Simon R. Green: the Deathstalker (first of the series).

message 47: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments Thomas,
I would not like to read this as our Space Opera selection because of its dark "feel". I loved Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series, but was turned off by most everything h wrot after that. Just one man's opinion...

message 48: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (sullypython) | 12 comments
How about Foundation by Isaac Asimov. It might be fun to critique one of the classics

Another good one might be Dread Empire's Fall : The Praxis by Walter Jon Williams

Dannii (lilbob1980) | 8 comments How about "Road To Mars" by Eric Idle. I'm not 100% sure if it qualifies, it's along a similar vein to "hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy" so it is set in space.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) It might be fun to critique one of the classics

Sullypython: that's definitely what we do best here! Someone recommended that book to me but I wasn't interested: I have it in my head that it's really dry and heavy. (No reason, I just got scared off sci-fi years ago and am only now getting into it.)

Dannii, I was wondering when anyone would get around to recommending The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , that should definitely go on the list!

I really enjoyed the Crystal Singer trilogy - I'm not sure how much fun it'd be just to read the first book of it though. I have the omnibus and read them right through, which made for a good read.

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A Fire Upon the Deep (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

David Weber (other topics)
Stephen R. Donaldson (other topics)
Simon R. Green (other topics)
Isaac Asimov (other topics)
Walter Jon Williams (other topics)