Tuesday, March 8, 2011



That's how many words I have written on my damn 15,000 word story for the damn Space Opera anthology that I am co-editing my own damned self.

The anthology is called THE VOID ETERNAL and it is being co-edited by G.W. Thomas and my alter-ego Jack Mackenzie. This anthology highlights the specific genre that has come to be known as Space Opera.

Now Space Opera is considered by some to be a bit of a pejorative right up there with "sci-fi" or "that Buck Rogers stuff". Personally I love space opera, as I have posted before. I love literature and TV or movies that includes space travel, alien races, far-flung galactic empires, robots, etc.

I was talking with G.W. Thomas not too long ago and we both agreed that despite space opera's negative connotations, many a great SF masterpiece falls into the space opera category. Dune, for instance is classic space opera. The genius of that book is that Herbert turned all of the common sf tropes of the time and turned it all on its head. That's why I always find it kind of amusing when folks complain about George Lucas ripping off Frank Herbert for Star Wars (another unabashed space opera) when Herbert himself was recycling older tropes invented by other authors.

The Left Hand of Darkness has space opera elements. Ursula K. Leguin's protagonist is a spacefaring agent come to investigate the situation on the world of Karhide, a planet that has developed a unique biological survival mechanisms. LeGuin does not focus on the space travel (although a spaceship does arrive in the end, people forget that) to concentrate of the blurring of gender roles. Nevertheless, the novel introduces a trope used by many works of space opera since: the ansible, an instantaneous communication device that allows messages to be sent over vast distances. It's a useful device that ha been swiped by many authors since (including myself).
TV and movies is rife with space opera. What is usually labelled as SF (or sci-fi) is usually space opera. Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buck Rogers, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, Firefly, Farscape, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica (both versions) and Star Wars (naturally). Avatar, of course is pure space opera -- derivative space opera, some have called it (a big fat rip-off according to others).

What is the point of this rumination? There is none. The fact is I am staring a bout of writer's block in the face and it is beginning to loom large in my field of vision, like an enemy fleet or a black hole. It's been three days since the story ran out of steam and I'm worried about getting it back on track.

So I guess the point of this post is to try to jump-start the creative process and, along the way, act a a "Cool image" delivery system for your enjoyment. So there you go. I hope that my angsty writer's block has provided you with an enjoyable detour on your internet cruise.

Until next time...

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?



cerebus660 said...

Some lovely images there, MD!

Space Opera is, indeed, much maligned and I must admit to feeling slightly depressed when I see yet another fat paperback with a mile-long spaceship on the cover, which suggests that science fiction is still stuck in the 1930's. But, when it's done well, ( as in the works of Iain Banks or Alastair Reynolds ) Space Opera can be hugely entertaining and even poetic. It was reading the likes of E.E. "Doc" Smith that started my journey into the sf universe, after all...

Kal said...

I really enjoyed that. Something interesting to read while looking at really cool images. I look forward to reading your story when you are done. Try adding a kitty. Can't go wrong with any story that has a kitty in it. And isn't all science ficture stories, Space Opera by the mere fact that they are usually huge tales with huge ideas that take place on huge platforms by tiny people?

M. D. Jackson said...

Cerebus: Yup. E.E. "Doc" Smith was bread and butter to me.

Kal: That's probably why the term is Space OPERA. Operas used to be about huge platforms and tiny people before minimalism came in.

Actually I have kitties in the story already. They're six feet tall and discipline on their spaceships could mean getting your throat torn out, but they are furry.

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