Friday, September 7, 2012

Space Opera... not Soap Opera



Space Opera: A space opera is a grand epic drama or adventure set in a distant sci-fi future; an epic adventure in space that focuses less on the technical details and more on good vs. evil and character development. The mechanics of how things work ('hyperspace', 'the force') tend to be glossed over, as opposed to traditional "hard sci-fi" in which the technology is as much a character as those using it.

I have always been a character-driven writer. I care more about the people in the story than necessarily the things happening around them. Not to say those events aren’t important, but it’s about how those events affect the character, changes the character, rather than how the character externally reacts to the event.

I remember the first time a reviewer called my Phoenix series a space opera. First I thought “What? Like a soap opera?”. Then I began researching the genre and realized, yes, my series is very much a space opera. Sure, I have tech and I have aliens and I have explosions and battles. I have, in the immortal words of Colonel Jack O’Neill, “Big, honkin’, space guns”. I have space travel and amazing ships, but I also have men and women and children trying to find their way in a universe that has flipped them on their collective ears.

Instead of talking about favorite books in the genre of space opera, I’d rather talk about my favorite television series categorized as a space opera. Much science fiction can be categorized in some degree as a space opera, this particular show is the epitome of space opera in my mind.

Farscape.

I love this show because of the thought put into the backstory of each character right along with the movement of their lives through the larger arc of good vs. evil. Follow with me…


You have a living ship called a leviathan named Moya carrying a ragtag group of escape prisoners, ousted potentates, runaways, an outcast soldier, and an astronaut from Earth who was tossed across the universe through a renegade wormhole.

“Once upon a time there was a boy named John and John was an astronaut. He lived in a far away place called Earth which is so far away you've never heard of it. One day when John was out doing astronaut things a big, blue wormhole gobbled him up and spat him out at the far end of the universe. Things were looking grim in Mudville, till our hero met an amazing living ship, made some nice new friends, and he hooked up with his dream girl. We could've lived happily ever after, but the Peacekeepers raped, chased and tortured us for years on end.”

~~John Crichton, The Peacekeeper Wars

You’ve got an entire race of people known as Peacekeepers whose entire purpose was to, well, keep peace but they turned into bloodthirsty dictators instead… oh, and they are genetically engineered descendants of humans. In this mix you have a gentle warrior, a schizophrenic lunatic, a slug-based potentate, a sex-starved runaway, a former savage-cum-priestess, an outcast soldier, the list goes on.

I’m a romantic. Anyone who knows me knows this about me, so yeah… the love story is key for me. Of all the television shows and movies and books I’ve read, the love story of John Crichton and Aeryn Sun rank right up there at the top. It’s beautiful, really. Maybe it’s Ben Browder and Claudia Black… maybe it’s the writing, but their story is the core of it all. They are the glue, the driving force. 
 
And that is why I love space operas. I love the story of people. People suffering but coming through. People loving. People losing. People fighting. People giving all they are for someone else, sometimes everyone else. People facing adversity, reaching for hope. People lost in despair. People clinging to each other for peace, for strength, for a reason. Fathers. Mothers. Brothers. Sons. Daughters. Friends. Wives. Husbands. Leaders. Followers. Soldiers. Doctors. Civilians. Children lost in the world. Holy men and evil men. Righteous and corrupt. Misguided and lost, seeking a reason to live. The hopeful reaching for the desperate. The criminal who longs to be more. The politician sick of his own rhetoric.

Give me a space opera any day.



I decided I wanted to add a little video to show how much I love these two...


 

Read more about The Phoenix Rebellion and Phoenix Rising at http://www.GailDelaney.com

End Game is climax of science fiction series that appears worthy of the often overused word “epic”....This is a gripping saga that any sci-fi fan is guaranteed to enjoy.
JERR -- 5 Stars

16 comments:

  1. Delores Goodrick BeggsSeptember 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I've read Phoenix Rising and The Phoenix Rebellion and they are riveting!Gail Delaney's characters seem so real they so drew me in!

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    1. Thank you, Delores. I'm so glad you're enjoying it.

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  2. Hi Gail. You have made a convert of me after I read your first book in the series. I am reading book two now and understand what you mean about the characters being the bloodline of the story. I am new to the science fiction genre. It drives some of my friends crazy that I never got into the Star Wars genre, but I am making an attempt to understand the draw. GO MICHAEL!! :)

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    1. I think I need a tee shirt that says "Team Michael". :-) I'm so glad the readers of Phoenix fall in love with Michael as much as I do. :-)

      Thank you, Paisley. I'm glad to have converted you.

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  3. Gail, I love space operas for all the reasons you've listed. My favorites of course: Star Wars, Star Trek, just recently I enjoyed the remade Battlestar Galatica.

    Smiles
    Steph

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    1. Star Trek I actually consider the "Western In Space" kind of sci fi, but the others are space operas in different degrees absolutely. As long as we've got that character development and story arc, I love it. Anything that lets me engage with the characters.

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  4. Hey Gail! I hear you on the character driven stuff. I need to care about the characters and feel what they're feeling, otherwise I won't enjoy the story. Really the genre could be anything as long as I can fall in love with the characters!

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    1. Yep. Totally. Love to love them.

      And honestly... Farscape... Ben Browder in leather pants... what's not to love there?

      Ben actually inspires a character in the new Phoenix Rising series. No leather pants, but I can still picture it in my head, right? :-)

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  5. I'm new to this space opera idea, but it's falling into place. Great blog, Gail.

    Toni

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    1. Thank you, Toni. Glad I could enlighten a bit.

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  6. I love Phoenix and any form of space opera. But, Phoenix is perhaps the best form I've found in a book series. You have your basic futuristic world, but beneath that political commentary,religious undertones, and oh yeah, romance. BTW, I'm Team Michael until he starts glittering.

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    1. Then have no worries, JMo... Michael does not now, nor will he ever, glitter.

      Unless, of course, Nicole finds some glitter and decides Daddy should be pretty. *snicker* And he would totally sit there and let her do it, too.

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  7. Hi Gail. Thanks for the explanation. :-) I struggle with the back and forth of writing sci-fi. Some of my pieces are definitely space operas. Others rely heavily on the plot to move them forward so I don't know how to classify them. I guess it depends on what I'm in the mood for. I need to pick up your Phoenix books for sure :-)

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    1. I bet you'd like them based purely on the copious amounts of sarcasm and snark. :-) Nick Tanner, one of the main heroes, is strongly (cough -- really strongly) modeled after Colonel Jack O'Neill. And of course, you know Jack is full of snark and sarcasm. :-)

      There are so many classifications of sci fi, yours may very well fall under more than one category. A.R. Norris did a nice post earlier this week about different sub-genres.

      The first Phoenix series is available in a 4-book pack at the DBP site at a reduced price, if you buy that way. Just sayin'. :-)

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  8. Great post, Gail! I'd never heard of Space Operas before, either. I enjoy character driven novels, too. The best kind! :) Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek fit right in there as well. I'm a huge Trekkie! Been trying to convert my hubby for years, but it looks like I'm on my own with Star Trek in this house. ;)

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    1. We love all types of sci fi here, Patty. Star Trek. Stargate. Farscape. Firefly. Battlestar Galactica. Fringe. X-Files. Doctor Who.

      All those shows influence my writing, but I also have fun with it. Because Phoenix is set in our near future, some pop cultures are still recognizable and I use them frequently. :-)

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