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The New Space Opera Paperback – Bargain Price, June 12, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the New Space Opera Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The new space opera shares with the old the interstellar sweep of events and exotic locales, but Dozois and Strahan's all-original anthology shows how the genre's purveyors have updated it, with rigorous science, well-drawn characters and excellent writing. Many of the 18 stories play with the scope that characterizes classic space opera. In Greg Egan's Glory, creatures embody themselves as aliens to perform archeological research, only to get caught up in a struggle between two worlds. Robert Reed's Hatch, limited in locale to the hull of a giant ship, proves that the scope of the struggle for life is always epic. Stephen Baxter's Remembrance walks a line between the personal and the global as resisters against Earth's conquerors remember one man's struggle against the alien invaders. Kage Baker's humorous Maelstrom, in which an acting troupe on frontier Mars puts on a Poe story for the miners there, tells a personal story in an epic setting. The new space opera teaches us that despite the bizarre turns humanity may take to conquer these outré settings, a recognizable core of humanity remains.
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From Booklist

The rich space opera tradition, extending from the off-world voyages of Verne and Wells to this galaxy-embracing anthology, is arguably sf's most prolific subgenre. Veteran anthologist Dozois and coeditor Strahan present some of the newest boundary-stretching variations on the category's many themes. Accordingly, the roster of contributors includes some of contemporary sf's brightest innovators, such as Peter Hamilton and Robert Silverberg, as well as such rising stars as Tony Daniel and Mary Rosenblum. Ian McDonald brilliantly sketches entire future cultures and histories in Verthandi's Ring, the main concern of which is millennia-old intergalactic battles. In Hatch, Robert Reed describes the precarious lifestyle of a small human society eking out a living on the surface of a Jupiter-sized starship. Other tales monitor species-changing scientists, an eccentric Martian arts colony, and Earth's last traumatized survivor. In sheer breathtaking, mind-expanding scope, this collection of some of the finest tale-spinning the subgenre has to offer delivers hours of exhilarating reading. Hays, Carl
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (June 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060846755
  • ASIN: B005M4ZLXK
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,689,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ML VINE VOICE on January 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
While this anthology may appear to be aimed at newcomers to the genre (or subgenre), I doubt that newcomers will get as much out of it as fans who have already read a good deal of the material referred to here as "the new space opera." Why? Many of the stories take place in universes already visited by the authors. The degree of integration with earlier work varies; Gwyneth Jones' so-so story "Saving Tiaamat," takes place in the same universe as her WHITE QUEEN novel and its sequels, but does not involve the "Aleutians" or any earlier characters. Peter F. Hamilton's barely-readable "Blessed by an Angel" takes place in the same universe as PANDORA'S STAR and requires some knowledge of that universe but doesn't seem to add much. (It does, however, strengthen my opinion that Hamilton is a dreadful writer.) In contrast, Robert Reed's adventure-packed "Hatch" takes place on the surface of the "Great Ship" introduced in his novel MARROW (which I haven't read) and appears to shed new light on what goes on inside the ship.

Although most of the stories stand on their own--I think Hamilton's is the only exception--I think newcomers would still get a better introduction to today's space opera by starting with a novel or two, like Reynolds' REVELATION SPACE (on the heavier side), Stross' SINGULARITY SKY, or Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR (on the lighter side). (Note that Stross and Scalzi do not have stories in this volume.)

The book has a number of highlights. Walter Jon Williams' yarn "Send Them Flowers," features a couple of not-quite-on-the-level pals who flit around in a space yacht. Williams' irresponsible and irresistible (to women) character Tonio is a humorous wonder.
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Format: Paperback
Space opera has been defined as "colorful action-adventure stories of interplanetary or interstellar conflict." These new, never before published stories are tales of aliens and alien cultures, not just interstellar war stories.

A pair of human researchers change their species to investigate a scientific anomaly on another planet. A group of traveling Shakespearean actors give the performances of their lives for the aliens who have conquered and enslaved Earth. A human society which has barely conquered the airplane has less than 100 years to live; their sun is in the path of a destructive stellar phenomena. An experienced interstellar traveler urges/pushes them into a crash course in spaceflight. He has to deal with what the society has become.

An alien ship the size of Jupiter has been turned into the ultimate cruise ship, on an eons-long trip around the galaxy. After a hijack attempt goes wrong, a number of passengers are trapped outside the ship and are forced to create their own society on the ship's hull. A very rich man on Mars decides to bring Art and Culture to the miners who live there. He spares no expense to build a theatre with imported walnut paneling, and advertises on Earth, for actors who are ready to emigrate to Mars.

I really enjoyed these stories. Each of the authors in this collection very much knows what they are doing. This is a formidable group of tales, and is essential reading for all science fiction fans.
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Format: Paperback
What is "space opera"? The introduction succinctly and accurately calls it romantic adventure science fiction told on a grand scale. It then traces the history of the sub-genre from its stirrings in the 1890s to its full-fledged birth in the 1920s to its nadir in the 1960s and 1970s, when the New Wave made it unfashionable, to its rebirth, while American authors were developing cyberpunk, at the hands of the British in the 1980s and 1990s.

For that grand scale, I'd specify vast scales of time and space and weaponry. The fate of species - their lives or at least their sanity and cultural viability - should be at stake and not some mere individual's happiness or survival. Some of the stories in this collection are good but not space opera. Some are both. But there aren't enough good stories of any type to give this collection a higher rating.

The following stories fall in the unsuccessful and not even space opera category. The setup for Gwyneth Jones "Saving Timaat", the narrator helping in the negotiations between representatives of two warring groups, the one cannibalistic predators on the other, is good but the emotional connection of the narrator to the cannibal chief and her motivations are too oblique. James Patrick Kelly's "Dividing the Sustain" is a would-be comedy of manners about a courier aboard a ship of communist colonists and the steps he takes to get close to the captain's estranged wife, subject of an unaccountable infatuation, and to avoid getting "stale", a consequence of longevity treatments. Not at all interesting. Nancy Kress has put out some wonderful work, particularly when she engages in speculating about the consequences of biotech.
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By reading the short stories and novellas in this volume, one quickly realizes that the term "space opera" is used rather broadly. Here's my synopsis of the stories (and some general observations along the way):

"Saving Tiamaat," "Verthandi's Ring" & "Hatch": I don't really know, because I found them so convoluted that I didn't finish them. Some of the authors of these stories introduce the reader to a slew of aliens, alien civilizations, and future technologies in a few pages, where maybe a 50 page introduction to a 300 or so page book would be adequate.

"Winning Peace": Not bad, but could have used a longer treatment. A common theme in this volume seems to be the situation where one group of humans (or aliens) subjugate another group of humans, who find some means of revenge in the end.

"Glory": There are so many things going on in this story, that I'm not sure why the author didn't write a full-fledged novel. I would even read it.

"Maelstrom": This is one of the more memorable stories because it's about a group of rag-tag actors on a recently colonized Mars who put on a play which loosely reflects the lives of colonists. It's surprisingly humorous, but categorizing it as a "space opera" is really a stretch.

"Blessed by an Angel": If I hadn't have read Peter Hamilton's incredible "Pandora's Star" (and the much more mediocre sequal "Judas Unchained"), I would have been completely lost. That's another thing that you find in the volume -- some of the backgrounds of these short stories were already covered in full-blown novels. This particular story is ok, but I would think incomprehensible to one who didn't read "Pandora's Star."

"Who's Afraid of Wolf 359"?: I'm sure I read it, but nothing sticks with me.
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