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Space Opera Mass Market Paperback – May 5, 1955

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Medallion (March 1, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425033449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425033449
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,742,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There seem to be roughly two schools of thought regarding space opera among critics and editors. Some take a purely descriptive approach, viewing it as merely one strand of genre science fiction. This seems to be the orientation of Patricia Monk (1992) in her article, "Not Just Cosmic Skulduggery." Editors David Hartwell and Katheryn Cramer are almost militant descriptive editors.

Other critics argue that there is a qualitative element to space opera. In a rebuttal to Monk's article, Gary Westfahl (1993) contends that it is just not as serious as mainstream science fiction. This is certainly in keeping with Wilson Tucker, who coined the term in 1941. He did not intend it to be a flattering one. Brian W. Aldiss is an editor who falls into this category. This is from his introduction to _Space Opera_ (1974): "Space opera is heady, escapist stuff, charging on without overmuch regard for logic or literacy, while often throwing off great images, excitements, and aspirations" (xi-xii). Again: "Science fiction is for real. Space opera is for fun" (xi). And again: "What space opera does is take a few light years and a pinch of reality and inflate thoroughly with melodrama, dreams, and a seasoning of screwy ideas" (xi). In other words, space opera is what you write when you are letting your hair down and allowing the romantic in you to burst free.

Some of the selections in this anthology seem approptiately space opryish: Robert Sheckley's "Zirn Left Unguarded...," A.E.van Vogt's "The Storm," George Griffith's "Honeymoon in Space," Edmond Hamilton's "The Star of Life," Leigh Brackett's "The Sword of Rhiannon," and Charles L. Harness's "The Paradox Men."

Others seem somewhat odd choices: Daniel F. Galouye's "Tonight the Sky Will Fall," Philip K.
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Format: Hardcover
Aldiss mentions the term space opera may have come from horse opera and soap opera - does that make high fantasy sword opera?

He does say this book is not too serious.

Anyway, from the introduction : "Ideally, the Earth must be i peril, there must be a quest and a man to match the mighty hour. That man must confront aliens and exotic creatures. Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher. Blood must run down the palace steps and ships launch out into the louring dark. there must be a woman farier than the skies and a villain darker than a Black Hole. And all must come right in the end."

He divides the book into four sections

Is Everything an Illusion
Precipices of Light that went Forever Up
Exile is our lot
The Godlike Machines

And "Science fiction is for real. Space opera is for fun. Generally. What space opera does is take a few light years and a pinch of reality and inflate thoroughly with melodrama, dreams, and a seasoning of screwy ideas."
Ray Bradbury not in until it is decided global warming would be rather nice, in Hades.

However, given all that, I am presuming he didn't have an attack of Anthologus Stupidus, and some of the inclusions are deliberate, and he put them in because he wanted to. He does mention a desire to reprint some non-reprinted mag stories.

A six year old could tell you that the Bradbury and Vance shouldn't be in a collection to fit the above, even if they decided that in Hades, hey, Global Warming actually doesn't sound too bad.

Planet is not equal to space, by the above definition. Duh.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps the definition of `Space Opera' has evolved over the decades, but what I consider to be Space Opera in the 21st century differs from what Aldiss deems in the 1970s. Aldiss admits that he wanted the lesser known stories to be in the anthology but he also included some bigger names in the mix (to reel in the superficial sci-fi fans?). Whatever the intended input, the output looks like a grab bag of random sci-fi- very few with qualities of modern Space Opera. Most of the science is groundless (take for instance all of the stories of Venus) and much of it is cheesy (with unremarkable ideas like the proton-gun, the ultradrive and such).

Entry level science fiction for the unsophisticated reader?
Aldiss' idea of a sub-genre he has no faith in?
Cream of the crop golden age sci-fi which I just can't appreciate?
Whatever the case, the book is a keeper for the simple sake of four 4-5 stories below.

Zirn Left Unguarded (Robert Sheckley) - 1/5 - Off to a bad start here. I have no clue WTF Sheckly is on about nor do I understand how this qualifies as space opera. 5pgs

Honeymoon in Space (George Griffith) - 3/5 - Utopian vision of a typically fictional Venus where its man who descends and is greeted by angel-like beings. 7pgs

Tonight the Sky Will Fall! (Daniel F. Galouye) - 3/5 - Some cheesier bits in the longest story, but maintains a good pace to a decent man-creates-reality story. 57pgs

The Star of Life (Edmond Hamilton) - 2/5 - Jealous humans venture to find secret of long-life of alien counterparts, through guile and chance. Yawn. 14pgs

After Ixmal (Jeff Sutton) - 4/5 - Earth supercomputer encounters another intrasolar intelligence and internally debates its godlike powers. 11pgs

Sea Change (Thomas N.
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