Space opera is a genre of science fiction literature, and the term can also be applied to movies and TV programs. The genre has almost no relationship to the opera music form, except for the similarity of grand scope and dramatic intensity. Typically, space opera occurs on a galactic scale, has multiple types of spacecraft, from speedy corvettes to battleships capable of destroying planets. There is plenty of action and adventure in space opera.
Space Opera Literature
The literature of space opera is varied and many books are available. Space opera books are the most popular science fiction tomes on planet Earth. From Asimov’s world-spanning tale of galactic empire upheaval, to Banks’ focus on a utopian society that struggles in a hostile universe, space opera books are uber-epic. There are also many good examples of short fiction, such as those stories collected in ‘The New Space Opera’ anthology.
Books: ‘Foundation’ by Isaac Asimov, ‘Ringworld’ by Larry Niven, ‘Vorkosigan Saga’ novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, ‘Culture’ novels by Iain M. Banks, ‘Revelation Space’ by Alastair Reynolds, ‘The New Space Opera’ edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
Space Opera Movies
Space Opera movies are known for great villains. From Darth Vader to Khan, and Zorg to the Lord Marshal, they are all twisted characters exhibiting nasty, sadistic behavior. Yet they are villains that we love to hate.
Films: Star Wars movies, Star Trek movies, The Fifth Element, Serenity, The Chronicles of Riddick, Starship Troopers.
Space Opera Television
The history of space opera in television is a long one. However, the original Star Trek program was the first of the higher quality shows. Even though the costumes and graphics appear campy by today’s standards, the writing and acting is good enough to make the program a timeless classic.
Television: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: Enterprise, Firefly, Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Farscape