Space Opera

 

“Never give up; never surrender.”

My choices for the ten best Space Operas:

  • Star Wars {A New Hope}
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • The fifth Element
  • The Last Jedi

 

Some people call Space Opera a separate genre from science fiction instead of a sub-genre, and that’s a reasonable position. I agree it is a far cry from hard science fiction in that it is structured differently. It isn’t about taking some technology into the future to see what will happen. Reality, or potential reality, has nothing to do with Space Opera.

Simply put, Space Opera is Swashbucklers or Westerns with sci-fi trappings. Sound carries in space because sound carries in the ocean. It takes time to travel between planets, but not thousands of years, because it took time to travel between islands on a sailing ship, but not lifetimes. Combat is between ships that can see each other and at speeds that are comprehensible because that’s how it worked for pirates. Duels are fought with energy swords or blasters similarly to how its been presented with rapiers or six-shooters. And our hero? You’ve seen him before in Robin Hood and Captain Blood and Shane.

Those sci-fi trappings usually involve space ships, galactic empires, multiple intelligent species, ray guns, mental powers, and alien worlds relatively similar to Earth. The fewer of those it has, the less Space Opera it is.

Violating the laws of physics is not necessarily a problem for a Space Opera. Ignoring old-school rules on heroic journeys is, which makes Space Opera a limited sub-genre. It is normally thought of as a lesser form in literature and I agree with that. The average Space Opera is weaker than the average general science fiction story. For film, it is less true simply because it is more difficult to make Space Opera than Dystopian Science Fiction or Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. Much of that difficulty is connected to budget (Space Opera requires special effects and action). And while a larger budget does not equate to a good picture, it does mean that there’s a greater likelihood that skilled professionals will be hired. And because of the budget requirements, there are a lot fewer Space Opera films than other SF sub-genres. Still, once you get leave the two major franchises (Star Wars and Star Trek), things do get spotty quickly. Eliminated Marvel’s MCU, and there’s very few “good” Space Operas.

Space Opera Reviews:

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Space Operas Sorted by Year:

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