July SFFKit : Space Opera
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This month the topic is space opera.
"A space opera is usually set in outer space or on a distant planet. In most cases, to keep the story fast moving, a spaceship can fly almost unlimited distances in a short time, and can turn on a dime, without the boring necessity of decelerating... Space opera backgrounds may vary considerably in scientific plausibility. Most space operas conveniently violate the known laws of physics by positing some form of faster-than-light travel." (Worlds Without End)
It's been awhile since I dipped into the Vorkosigan series so I am looking forward to reading Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold.
All of the Culture series books I have by Iain M. Banks are tagged space opera, so I'll plan to read Use of Weapons, the next one in the series for me.
Finished The Medusa Chronicles by Baxter. Sequel to Arthur C. Clarke book. SF, Space Opera, AI, Alternate History.
For this month, I finished up Empaths (Pyreans #1; by S. H. Jucha) - The first book in Jucha's second series is a space opera taking place at sometime unspecified time in the future when Earthers have left their home planet in search of new habitats. It's been centuries since the Honoura Belle found themselves stranded at Pyre and, in the that time the original founding principles of the colony's forefathers have been corrupted. The current socio-political norms are about to be upset and the catalyst is in the form of a sixteen-year-old empath. This is family-friendly drama, though not nearly as clean as Jucha's other series, The Silver Ships-- meaning that there is reference to kidnapping and rape, and a death scene, but nothing explicit. Overall, the plot outline was interesting, but over-exposition and awkward sentence construction had me skimming passages to get to key points.
I also listened to Space Opera (by Catherynne M. Valente; narrated by Heath Miller) but finished it before June ended so technically it doesn't count; But I wanted to post comments here as I see so many others have selected it for the challenge. "Space Opera" turns out to be a play on words but it's not actually what I would consider an actual Space Opera. This is an absurdist comedy about an intergalactic Eurovision-style competition in which the prize for not coming in last means that your planet and sentient species gets to live. This is a relatively short audiobook at 9+ hours but a third of the way in, I already was getting tired of all the "cleverness" and the slow plot drive. By the end, I had to conclude that this just wasn't my cup of tea at all: Á la Douglas Adams-style humor that just wore on you, long/boring exposition (hours and hours of rambling on and on about nothing that mattered in the end,) not enough action, and a narrator that sounded so pretentious that he sounded like a parody of a British narrator! I originally picked this up on a recommendation from a SFF/audiobook blogger friend of mine who loved it, one of the few times where we've disagreed. I'm looking forward to what other people have to say about it!
My selection for this month:
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
In the far future, the universe is divided into Thought Zones, and one's level of intelligence depends on where in those zones you are. When the Straumli unwittingly (sort of) unleash a big-brained Thing, stuff goes really, really wrong. And then there's two or three other story lines on other worlds, but I'm not gonna try to summarize those, because I really didn't like it enough to bother. Big ol' space operas just generally aren't my jam, I guess. The few that I've enjoyed have been so fabulously written that I didn't mind that they're spacey. This one does what annoys me most about the genre: it takes way too much time describing in a level of detail that makes my eyes cross just How Things Work. Generally I don't care How Things Work; I just want to know what the characters are doing within a world that just works without me knowing HOW it works. *sigh*
I need to find something that isn't a chunkster...being out of town and on the road for 10 days this month really put a crimp in my reading.
I've fallen off the SFFKit train since last month and it's a bit late for recommendations but I want to mention Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds and The reality disfunction by Peter F. Hamilton. Both were fascinating IMO in particular because the story unfolds over multiple places/planets of the universe, each with their different cultures.
>19 chlorine: thanks for the recommendations.
FWIW, I don't manage a challenge every month, but I keep trying!
I finished Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold this afternoon. It it the twelfth book, chronologically in the Vorkosigan Saga.
I found on my shelf Son of the Tree by Jack Vance. It's from 1951, pure vintage SF. Joe Smith of planet Earth is on a two-year quest, the nature of which is not revealed until quite late in the story. So he's working his way from planet to planet, and now finds himself on Kyril, where 2 million of the Druid class keep 5 billion of the Laity in servitude through worship of the Tree. This novelette is a zippy 110 pages.
>19 chlorine: >21 fuzzi: I don't get here every month either, but it has been a kick discovering these genre(s) when I do make it!
I finished a short story collection last night, Appalling Stories 2: More Appalling Tales of Social Injustice. One of the tales, "Angel of Death", was quite good, and fits this challenge.
Finished Winning Colors by Elizabeth Moon. Haven't found a book by her I don't like.
For all that space opera is a favorite of mine, I only managed three this month.
Alliance and Confluence are the second and third books, respectively, in the Linesman series by Australian sisters writing as S. K. Dunstall. Back in May, I read Stars Uncharted, which is the first book in their new series, for International SFF theme. I really enjoyed it - and happily recommend it. Last month, I decided to give their debut series a try with Linesman - I made myself wait to read the other two until July, just for this theme.
I also managed a reread of Komarr. I won't mention how many times I've reread it.....
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