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The Space Opera Renaissance Paperback – July 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hartwell and Cramer have well-honed reputations for consummate editorial acumen, thanks to the renowned hard-sf anthology The Ascent of Wonder (1994) and the consistently excellent Year's Best SF. Now, in an exhaustive compendium spanning eight decades, they provide a definitive overview of space opera. Originally a contemptuous label for pulpy adventure sf, space opera has matured into sf's most popular subcategory, in print and on screen: think Star Wars and Stephen Baxter's universe-spanning sagas. Beginning with "The Star Stealers," by Edmond Hamilton, arguably the first practitioner of space opera, Hartwell and Cramer cut a wide swath through the genre, from pieces by such departed masters as Cordwainer Smith and Leigh Brackett down to others by such rising stars as Tony Daniel and Charles Stross. Thirty-two tales in all trace space opera's evolution from its lurid early obsession with impossible planets to its contemporary fascination with wormholes and posthumans. While the massive volume may not be ideal schlep-along reading, it is an important resource for any comprehensive sf library. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“We are in the hands of a loving expert.”
--John Updike on The World Treasury of SF
“An editor extraordinaire.”
--Publishers Weekly on David G. Hartwell

“One of the definitive anthologies of the genre.”
--Des Moines Register on The Science Fiction Century

“Demonstrates the fact that science fiction is alive and well in the ’90s…A fine addition of any science fiction collection."
--VOYA on Visions of Wonder

Product Details

  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; First Edition edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765306182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765306180
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,003,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathryn Cramer is a writer, anthologist, & Internet consultant who lives in Pleasantville, New York. She won a World Fantasy Award for best anthology for The Architecture of Fear, co-edited with Peter Pautz; she was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her anthology Walls of Fear. She co-edited several anthologies of Christmas and fantasy stories with David G. Hartwell and now does the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Year's Best SF with him. She is on the editorial board of The New York Review of Science Fiction, (for which she has been nominated for the Hugo Award many times). She is a consultant with the Scientific Information Group for Wolfram Research.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on March 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm working my way through the Hartwell & Cramer SPACE OPERA RENAISSANCE anthology, and finding it well-done and to my taste -- I think it's Hartwell's best BIG review-anthology yet. Truly a doorstop: 940+ pages!, with a surprisingly large number of new-to-me stories.

Space Opera, as Hartwell points out in his nicely-done introductory essay and story notes, is a flexible concept. And when you get to New Space Opera, or Widescreen Baroque Space Opera -- well, no one really knows what these are. Really, space opera is what Hartwell (or whoever) points to when he says "space opera"...

Anyway, take a look at this juicy lineup:

(my faves are starred*)

Introduction: *How Shlt became Shinola, Definition & Redefinition of Space Opera, by Hartwell & Cramer

I. Redefined Writers

"The Star Stealers" by Edmond Hamilton

"The Prince of Space" by Jack Williamson

"Enchantress of Venus" by Leigh Brackett

*"The Swordsmen of Varnis" by Clive Jackson

II. Draftees (1960s)

***"The Game of Rat & Dragon" by Cordwainer Smith

"Empire Star" by Samuel R. Delany

"Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenjik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerly Dead" by Robert Sheckley

III. Transitions/Redefiners (late 1970s to late 1980s)

*"Temptation" by David Brin

"Ranks of Bronze" by David Drake

*"Weatherman" by Lois McMaster Bujold

"A Gift from the Culture" by Iain M. Banks

Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Foy on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a big book and it felt like a big book to read since I could easily put it down. Lots of stories. Some good, some not so good. The surprising thing about this book was that it wasn't more upbeat. When I think of Space Opera I think Star Wars but that kind of fun is a throwback in todays Sci-Fi universe. These stories were very modern and although thought provoking a lot ended with a feeling of 'so what' or 'where's the fun'.

Michael J. Foy
Author of The Kennedy Effect
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the Introduction to this superb anthology, space opera was coined by Bob Tucker in 1941: "In these hectic days of phrase coning, we offer one. Westerns are called "horse operas," the morning housewife tear-jerkers are called "soap operas." For the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space ship yarn, or world saving for that matter, we offer space opera." By 1959 the connotation remained "A hack science fiction story, a dressed up western" as noted by Fancyclopedia II. By the 1960s space opera was considered dead. Yet today it is alive, well, and highly regarded as its reputation changed as "sh*t became Shinola". This terrific compilation pays tribute to space opera tales from various decades starting with a delightful Edmond Hamilton tale from 1929 to a Stephen Baxter contribution from 2003; the entries showcase the evolution and make an analytical argument that even cheap pulp fiction in outer space can be well written. The break out by decades is as follows: 1920s - 1; 1930s - 1; 1940s - 1; 1950s - 2; 1960s - 1; 1970s - 1; 1980s - 3; 1990s - 16; 2000s - 6. Though the spread is heavily the 1990s (half the entries) with some readers fascinated with the sub-genre roots wanting more of the older entries, the contributions are from a who's who, who come through with superb tales. This is must reading for science fiction short story fans.

Harriet Klausner
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lynda Williams on September 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As someone whose own work has been describe as intelligent space opera, I love this book just for the statment on the dust jacket that:

Space Opera, once a derisive term for cheap pulp adventure, has come to mean something more in modern SF: compelling adventure stories told against a broad canvas and written to the highest level of skill. Indeed, it can be argued that the "new space opera" is one of the defining streams of modern SF.

I confess I thought it was more of an academic analysis than an anthology when I bought it, but now I'm looking forward to the sampling of works from different times and tangents, instead. There is an element of academic analysis, as well, in the introduction.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Ochs on July 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Just finished reading this monster, (940-plus pages), and all I can say is "Wow!" After 50-plus years of reading SF I would have thought at least one of these stories would be a re-read. No way! They were all new to me and I give a big, "two thumbs UP" for nearly every one. The editors are to be commended for an excellent job with their introductions to the stories and lots of eclectic info on the authors. I honestly can't remember reading another anthology with such a majority of very good stories. If you are new to SF and wish to know about the various definitions of the term 'space opera', or, if you are an old hand, like me, and wish to dine on a sumptious buffet of the sub-genre stretching from it's very beginnings to the present, this book should not be overlooked. I just ordered the editor's companion volume "The Hard SF Renaissance" based solely on the quality of the stories included in this volume.
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