Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What is a Space Opera?

For those of you who have somehow missed the news, Star Wars Episode VII came out this weekend! In my opinion, it was a great start to a new trilogy and a good/decent movie on its own. I'm looking forward to seeing the next movies.

This post isn't about The Force Awakens, but rather the subgenre to which it belongs: the space opera.

From here.
The space opera is a subgenre of science fiction and focuses on space battles and drama, typically involves romance, and has a limited focus on technology. Earth and the known universe may or may not be involved, but the story likely centers around a larger than life character trying to save the galaxy, universe, or planet. Another example of a space opera would be Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, though it leans a little closer to traditional sci-fi in some ways. 

The genre can be separated from "hard sci-fi" which has a much stronger focus on plausible technology and what the future might be like. These stories often center on Earth and/or the known universe. The characters in hard sci-fi are unlikely to be attempting to save the galaxy or to be larger than life. 

For those more familiar with fantasy, think of the difference between the two as epic fantasy vs. urban fantasy for a good comparison. Personally, I prefer epic fantasy and space operas. 

Which do you prefer? Have you seen Star Wars yet (no spoilers please)?

Merry Christmas! I'll see you next Tuesday with a book review.


  1. *nods* I've always considered Star Wars a science fantasy for that reason, just because it's not really about the futuristic science elements, but rather the fantastical creatures and Force and characters out there. Personally, though, I have no preference. I like sci-fi and fantasy! :D

    1. I'd have a hard time picking between all fantasy or all sci-fi myself. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I have a definite soft spot for space operas. And I really, really love Star Wars and Ender's Game. I agree that Ender's Game would fit into the space opera category, though a little more loosely, like you said. But I do like how, with those two examples, even though they're by no means focused on the technological aspects, they don't neglect those either, which makes the story feel more complete and real.

    1. Certainly! Although I don't think we'll ever figure out how we're going to figure out how to build a lightsaber or how the ansible works, they're still integral to the story. Thanks for the comment!


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