Human drama hides behind science fiction's settings

Rediscovering a love for Space Opera

Recently I decided that dystopias, post-apocalyptic scenarios and deep examinations of the human spirit were tiring me, I decided to look for something a little less demanding intellectually, and decided to turn to space opera, looking for fast paced, thrilling, action packed stories that were straight forward and didn't need to be read two or three times to find the hidden meaning behind the characters words and actions, but being the kind of reader that I am, and despite my earlier decision to keep space opera out of these little forays into the deeper meanings of Speculative Fiction, I find myself writing this article.

First off, there is a ton of Space Operas out there, many of them so bad that I couldn't go beyond the first chapter, in which the scantily clad heroine is chased by the bug-eyed monster... oh wait, that was actually a 50's movie, but you get my meaning. Those are precisely the kind of things that had led me away from space opera as a worthwhile sub-genre for this exploit, but then I had to run into The Fading Suns Trilogy, and my entire paradigm shifted.

This was the first time that I read a space opera with a look at the underlying political conflicts between the parties, and that brought me to the realization that in the end most space opera is born of political and social strife (the devil as they say is in the details, and in this case those details are the actual skill of the writer); but in well written works you will find such things as Asimov's The Stars Like Dust, in which the greatest weapon in all the known galaxy is a remnant of the Constitution of the United States, or something not as well written,but quite enjoyable, such as Thomas DePrima's A Galaxy Unknown series, where you have a military/civilian kind of mix not dissimilar to the one proposed in Heinlein's Starship Troopers (and if you mention the film I will probably confine you to latrine duty for the rest of your natural life), that is bordered by two other sort of super galactic powers, again not dissimilar to somebody else's world, that of Orwell's 1984, and here is where the similarities with great books ends.

But this has been an enlightening period of my reading endeavor into the world of speculative fiction, and I will have to read some more before I can write something less anecdotal and more "scholarly", where I can probably come up with questions like "should we look at social conflict through the eyes of political realism?", or something a little less complicated and more to the point "is it possible to see the social conflict behind the super hero story in Space Operas?", but until then, if you happen to stumble upon this little article and like it, then please share it with your friends and family, and if you have a different opinion then comment on it, I will try my damnedest to answer soon.

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