Space opera! The genre emphasizes the more ‘fun’ parts of science fiction, like epic spaceships, adventure, interplanetary battles, and romance. Though seen frequently on screen in the form of films such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Fifth Element, space opera has another life of its own on the written page. There are dozens of novels emphasizing the great adventures through space, full of aliens, galactic warfare, and bands of heroes fighting against massive empires. With so many of them, where to start? Well, here are some recommendations, with five of the best examples of space opera fiction!
5. Dune by Frank Herbert
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Dune is dense. Dune is fascinating. These facts are both equally true but the fact remains that Dune is both a challenging read and utterly worthwhile to check out. Revolving around young Paul Atriedes, the story tells of a distant feudal society in the stars that lay claim to various planets. Paul is put in charge of Arrakis, a center of trade where the valuable substance known as ‘spice’ is being mined. Everyone wants the spice but Paul must defend it. Filled with politics, intrigue, ecology, Dune is a wonderful read, albeit one you should be prepared to immerse yourself in. Make sure to read it before the new movie comes out in November 2020!
4. Hyperion by Dan simmons
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Hyperion is a surreal read. In the world of Hyperion awaits a creature called the Shrike, which some worship as a god while others have vowed to destroy. With the war about to spiral into war, seven pilgrims head to Hyperion to find the creature, all with different motives and all hoping to use it for their own ends. As they brave the world of Hyperion, they each must face their destinies on the world beyond the reach of man.
3. Old man’s War by John Scalzi
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The future isn’t looking good for humanity in this novel. Humanity has reached the stars but is fighting for resources against rival alien cultures. The Earth’s resources are controlled by the Colonial Defense Force, which mandates that when citizens reach retirement age, they join the military. They don’t want young people, they want people with age and experience. Enter John Perry, seventy-five-years-old. As he reaches retirement age, he is swooped up by the CDF and taken into deep space to join the fight. This is a fascinating novel about humanity’s failures while detailing what it’s like to grow old.
2. A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
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A Fire Upon The Deep is more a classic space opera, full of cool spaceships and various alien races. Fleeing an alien menace that is enslaving other worlds, a family is taken captive by another alien race called the Tines and are used as hostages. A rescue mission is put together, composed of humans and aliens, and sent off to rescue the family even as the unknowable alien menace threatens to bear down on them all. But the family may hold a secret that can save civilization. One hopes they’ll be rescued in time.
1. Leviathan Wakes by James Corey
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Leviathan Wakes tells the story of humanity who has reached the stars but their civilization is on the decline. When a ship’s captain and a detective find themselves involved in a case of a missing girl, they find themselves involved in a conspiracy that threatens to bring the society of humanity to the brink of civil war. The first book in The Expanse, this is space opera without aliens but very well written and extremely compelling.
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