Flu and space opera

Still got the flu. Still complaining. I’m reading Scott Westerfeld’s space opera, Succession, which is terrific. Fast, cool, interesting, and definitely holding my interest, despite the flu. Don’t know if I’ll have finished it by the time I head to Brisbane, but I’m definitely loving it.

On space opera: following on a point made by Andy, space opera happens in space. If it’s not in space, it’s not space opera. Also, no, planetary romances are not space opera. They come out of a different tradition – as CHARLES completely correctly point outed to me to day. A planetary romance comes from the lost civilisation tradition, while space opera grows out of both the western and the naval action adventure. The new space opera – a group to which Westerfeld’s novel clearly belongs – is “new” because it’s darker, it doesn’t necessarily involve the triumph of man or humanity, it has nifty new technology, and it has actual characterisation.

For what it’s worth, and this is a brief post written late at night with the flu, I rank both David Weber’s Honor Harrington books and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan stories as space opera, but not as new space opera. They still very much follow that older tradition of space opera, clearly described by Brian Aldiss in the introduction to his anthology, Space Opera.  I also understand that space opera used to be a perjorative term. I just don’t think it’s a relevant observation. The point is that what was once ‘space adventure’ is now described as ‘space opera’. Move on.

Oh, and a last thing. New space opera is not an intrinsically different, new thing from space opera. It is, though, an evolutionary step in the history of space opera. Novels like Succession, like The Centauri Device, Consider Phlebas, and Singularity Sky, and stories like the Shaper/Mechanist and Xeelee tales are all new space opera.  Work like that done by Bujold, Weber et all is fine and is space opera, but it follows an older path.


Still got the flu, which if anything is getting worse. I want to post something intelligent about the history of SF, the role of anthologies, and so on and so forth. Instead, though, this meme picked up all over the place. Go to Wikipedia and look up your birth day (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births and one death in your journal, including the year.

3 neat facts:
1860 РThe discovery of the planet Vulcan is announced at a meeting of the Acad̩mie des Sciences in Paris.
1872 – Brigham Young is arrested for bigamy for having 25 wives.
1879 – Fred Spofforth claims the first Hat-trick in test cricket on the Sydney Cricket Ground against England.

And I didn’t even have to include King Zog, and any king named Zog has to be neat.

2 births
1920 – Isaac Asimov, Russian-born author (d. 1992)
1939 – Jim Bakker, American televangelist
Hey look, Bakker is so weird, that it’s kinda neat. And there were other weirder ones.
1 death
2005 – Frank Kelly Freas, American artist (b. 1922)

Deaths on the other hand, are never neat.