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Can we talk Space Opera?

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What are some recent YA titles that would be classified as Space Opera? Would Across the Universe be classified as space opera? And if not, why not?

Thanks for your help!
#1 - October 17, 2012, 05:14 AM
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 :nothing

I'm curious to read the answers you get.
#2 - October 17, 2012, 05:32 AM
J.Ro
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I've certainly seen it referred to as a Space Opera, Raynbow. I read it, not sure if it was BIG enough to qualify? Thoughts anyone?
#3 - October 17, 2012, 08:06 AM

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I thought Space Opera was kind of "fantasy in space," instead of hard scifi, rather than being just epic. I think Crewel might be space opera, for example, because spinning time and controlling lives with mystical webs is magic, not science.

Or must Space Opera be an epic adventure?
#4 - October 17, 2012, 08:20 AM
Kell Andrews
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I don't think it's fantasy in space, from what I've been able to find. I guess the term has evolved a lot, so wondering how it's perceived now and what books fall into this category. Star Wars and Star Trek are two shows that are termed Space Operas.
#5 - October 17, 2012, 08:24 AM
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I found this definition: "henceforth, space opera meant, and still generally means, colorful, dramatic, large scale science fiction adventure, competently and sometimes beautifully written, usually focussed on a sympathetic, heroic central character, and plot action [this bit is what separates it from other literary postmodernisms] and usually set in the relatively distant future and in space or on other worlds, characteristically optimistic in tone. What is centrally important is that this permits a writer to embark on a science fiction project that is ambitious in both commercial and literary terms."
#6 - October 17, 2012, 08:38 AM
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Very interesting! Like Kell, I've always thought it took place in space with a fair amount of melodrama to boot.  :ha
#7 - October 17, 2012, 12:22 PM

That description you found, Raynbow, sounds pretty close to how I always thought of it. I always imagined that space opera was science fiction that is epic and often focuses on the politics between groups and the people involved in them. In my mind, nobody does space opera like the Japanese. Gundam (in its various incarnations) and Legend of Galactic Heroes are the very epitome of what I think of when I think of space opera! I feel like it might be hard to pull off in YA simply because, to really get the operatic feel, a publisher would have to commit to a long story. I feel like even Across the Universe & sequels would be a pretty tight page count to write an "opera"...
#8 - October 17, 2012, 01:54 PM
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So are there any examples of recent YA that would count as space opera, whether under Raynbow's definition or Jaclyn's? Epic in scale? Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica, A Princess of Mars, Star Wars in YA?

THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA is space opera, but that's MG.
#9 - October 17, 2012, 02:00 PM
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 02:02 PM by Kell »
Kell Andrews
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Funny you should mention Space Opera. . .at the Rutgers conference I was sitting by Bethany Strout of Little, Brown at lunch (she is Alvina Ling's assistant) and when she was asked if Alvina had a wish list of projects she'd like to edit, Bethany immediately said, "Alvina would love a Space Opera!" When she was asked this very question, "What is Space Opera?", someone at our table mentioned Joss Whedon's film work in the movie Serenity and the tv series, Firefly. . .hope that helps!

Those of you writing Space Opera, send it to Alvina if you can get a chance! (Little, Brown is a closed house but sometimes you can reach her through conference subs)

Lisa
#10 - October 17, 2012, 07:10 PM
Lisa
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So maybe the answer is that there AREN'T many YA space operas out there, and thus they would be welcomed?
#11 - October 17, 2012, 07:12 PM
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My personal definition is similar to the one you quoted, Raynbow.

I haven't read it yet, but Garth Nix's most recent A CONFUSION OF PRINCES has been called space opera.

I've also seen Marissa Meyer's CINDER called space opera, which I think is quite fitting except that the MC doesn't actually spend any time in space in the first book, that I can recall. I expect that's going to change over the course of the series, though.

I sometimes call my CIRCUS GALACTICUS a space opera, but that's been classified as MG not YA...

I think the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE books are a little too hard SF and a little to gritty to really fit with what I think of as space opera. Ditto FIREFLY (much as I love it!).

For me, the defining space opera is STAR WARS. :-)

I've always thought that the right YA or MG scifi could really break out, given the success of Star Wars (and SW novels for kids) but it really does need to be the *right* book, I think, since it's not as common a genre.
#12 - October 18, 2012, 02:13 AM
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Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century written by Marilyn Sadler and Roger Bollen was a book series before it hit TV. It could probably be classed as Space Opera... even though the space station was very tied to planet Earth... rather than going off to meet alien species and explore new worlds.

I liked the TV series... I don't know why it failed.
#13 - October 18, 2012, 03:25 AM

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Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I appreciate it. I'm going to look into some of the books you all have mentioned.

Deva, that's a great point about Across the Universe. It does feel gritty and more on the hard sci-fi side.
#14 - October 18, 2012, 04:48 AM
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**blatant self-promotiion** :)

My YA novels BLACK HOLE SUN, INVISIBLE SUN, and SHADOW ON THE SUN are all swashbuckling space opera, even though they're marketed as dystopia.
#15 - October 18, 2012, 05:17 AM
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I'll check those out, thunderchikin. BTW, I read Soul Enchilada when it came out and loved it!
#16 - October 18, 2012, 05:24 AM
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I really do think space opera has to be BIG, melodramatic, epic... hard to do in YA which is typically so focused on one central character. YA feels very personal to me, usually, and less about lots and lots of components. I think that's why maybe there are more examples of MG.
I think you could probably pull one off, but it might be a YA/New Adult crossover sort of book, you know? :)
I can tell you this - if you write one, I will read it!
#18 - October 18, 2012, 09:14 PM
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**blatant self-promotiion** :)

My YA novels BLACK HOLE SUN, INVISIBLE SUN, and SHADOW ON THE SUN are all swashbuckling space opera, even though they're marketed as dystopia.

Oooh, I have Black Hole Sun in my "to buy" list. I'm pretty sure you don't need blatant self-promotion if I'm hearing about it in Australia.
#19 - October 19, 2012, 04:45 AM

Interesting discussion--I always thought of the "opera" in Space Opera to be a reference to real opera.  You know, Wagner in space.  So Star Wars qualifies because you've got sword-wielding Luke and "I am your father!" and "Nooooooooo!" etc., but Star Trek doesn't qualify.

But it's clear from looking at this thread that some people interpreted the "opera" to be like "soap opera" so they think of Space Opera to be a soap opera in space, in which case something like Battlestar Galactica (the original series) would qualify.
#20 - October 19, 2012, 05:20 AM

I'm with Jaina...
#21 - October 19, 2012, 07:00 AM
Robin

I agree with Jaina too. I definitely see Star Wars as a space opera but not so much Star Trek (except maybe some of the movies?). Legend of Galactic Heroes actually has all their battles set to classical music...and the Galactic Empire in the story is inexplicably based on 19th century Prussia...so it feels like Wagner in space like, almost literally.
#22 - October 19, 2012, 08:07 AM
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Wagner in space and Legends and the Galactic Heroes sound like epic fantasy, but in space, right? Which is awesome because I love epic fantasy. The music soundtrack, however, is hard to achieve in a book!

Thunderikin, I'm running off to acquire Black Hole Sun -- you got me with "swashbuckling space opera."
#23 - October 19, 2012, 09:37 AM
Kell Andrews
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