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The Space Opera Renaissance by David G.…

The Space Opera Renaissance

by David G. Hartwell (Editor), Kathryn Cramer (Editor)

Other authors: Catherine Asaro (Contributor), Iain M. Banks (Contributor), Stephen Baxter (Contributor), Gregory Benford (Contributor), Leigh Brackett (Contributor)27 more, David Brin (Contributor), Lois McMaster Bujold (Contributor), Tony Daniel (Contributor), Samuel R. Delany (Contributor), David Drake (Contributor), R. Garcia y Robertson (Contributor), Colin Greenland (Contributor), Edmond Hamilton (Contributor), Peter F. Hamilton (Contributor), Clive Jackson (Contributor), Michael Kandel (Contributor), Donald Kingsbury (Contributor), Ursula K. Le Guin (Contributor), Paul J. McAuley (Contributor), Michael Moorcock (Contributor), Robert Reed (Contributor), Alastair Reynolds (Contributor), Robert Sheckley (Contributor), Dan Simmons (Contributor), Cordwainer Smith (Contributor), Allen Steele (Contributor), Charles Stross (Contributor), David Weber (Contributor), Scott Westerfeld (Contributor), Jack Williamson (Contributor), John C. Wright (Contributor), Sarah Zettel (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hainish Cycle (Short Story "The Shobies' Story"), Hainish Cycle, Chronological (Short Story "The Shobies' Story")

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Huge anthology (941 pages) of mostly excellent stories, very few of which I had actually read before (Lois McMaster Bujold's "Weatherman", Peter F. Hamilton's "Escape Route" and Allen Steele's "The Death of Captain Future" - all great stories), tracing the space opera sub-genre through the decades. It's not always my favourite mode (and I found myself choking at short stories by a couple of writers whose longer works I have also bounced off) but the selection is generally good. In particular I appreciated the early stories from Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamon, Clive Jackson and especially Leigh Brackett ("Enchantress of Venus") - shamefully, I am not sure that I had read anything at all by her previously, but I must repair that omission. The longest story is "The Survivor" by Donald Kingsbury, set in the Man-Kzin wars cycle originated by Larry Niven, a gruesome and disturbing though well-written tale. In general this is well worth looking out for. ( )
  nwhyte | Dec 29, 2010 |
After a year of effort going through this anthology, here are my impressions.
+ is hit, - is miss:

+ The Star Stealers (1929) by Edmond Hamilton
Alien cones piloting a dark star attempt to steal the Sun.
+ The Prince of Space (1931) by Jack Williamson
Martian invasion thwarted by mysterious privateer and a scientist.
+ Enchantress of Venus (1949) by Leigh Brackett
John Stark has savage eyes and kicks ass... on Venus.
+ The Swordsmen of Varnis (1953) by Clive Jackson
Light hearted jab at space opera clichés and their incongruences.

- The Game of Rat and Dragon (1955) by Cordwainer Smith
Space demons fought with help from telepathic cats.
+ Empire Star (1966) by Samuel R. Delany
An education in time travel and different perspectives on life.
- Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerley Dead (1972) by Robert Sheckley
A mangled pastiche.

+ Temptation (1999) by David Brin
Dolphins choose between fantasy and reality.
- Ranks of Bronze (1986) by David Drake
Roman mercenaries fight for aliens without too many questions.
+ Weatherman (1990) by Lois McMaster Bujold
Mystery on a cold military camp. Miles Vorkosigan an imperial spy is born.
- A Gift from Culture (1987) by Iain M. Banks
Incoherent story of terrorism with smart weapons.

+ Orphans of the Helix (1999) by Dan Simmons
Posthumans resolve an interplanetary misunderstanding, save lives.
- The Well Wishers (1997) by Colin Greenland
Hardboiled spacewoman pesters a has-been starlet on Neptunian moon.
+ Escape Route (1987) by Peter F. Hamilton
Spaceship captain outsmarts foes with time loops.
- Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington (2001) by David Weber
Career advancement for a space cadet with an annoyingly cute pet.
- Aurora in Four Voices (1998) by Catherine Asaro
Rescue of a luddite framed and trapped by a mad artist.
+ Ring Rats (2002) by R. Garcia y Robertson
Space urchin outsmarts criminals, becomes hero.
+ The Death of Captain Future (1995) by Allen Steele
Asteroid threatens Mars and a plague the rest of humanity; a madman dies.

+ A Worm in the Well (1995) by Gregory Benford
Exotic gravitating object makes a fortune for a freelance pilot.
- The Survivor (1991) by Donald M. Kingsbury
A repulsive alien experiments with human brains and FTL.
+ Fool's Errand (1993) by Sarah Zettel
Resident space ship entertainers have a special relationship with AIs.
- The Shobies' Story (1990) by Ursula K. Le Guin
The sensors don't work. Right! Lets make shit up about what they should read.
- The Remoras (1994) by Robert Reed
Genetic engineering envy leads to humiliation and debt.
- Recording Angel (1995) by Paul J. McAuley
A human leads a world of mostly mindless drones to revolt.
- The Great Game (2003) by Stephen Baxter
War in space for war's sake... and dark matter.
- Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel (2002) by Michael Moorcock
Homage to Leigh Brackett, as if only names were changed.
+ Space Opera (1997) by Michael Kandel
Humorous review of a fictional Space Opera opera.

- Grist (1998) by Tony Daniel
Nanotechnology, time travel, and interplanetary war.
+ The Movements of Her Eyes (2000) by Scott Westerfeld
Human girl and her AI growing up and rebelling together.
- Spirey and the Queen (1996) by Alastair Reynolds
Robots acquire sentience and a plan, keep bios around just in case.
- Bear Trap (2000) by Charles Stross
Elaborate setup for a financial lingo pun.
+ Guest Law (1997) by John C. Wright
Moral tradition from legend. Legend from a kernel of truth. ( )
  igor.kh | Mar 27, 2010 |
I came to this book with a fairly clear definition in my own mind as to what space opera is: a science fiction adventure story with a healthy dash of escapism, typically built around swashbuckling and/or western tropes, with the underlying assurance that in the end good will triumph over evil. For me space opera isn’t supposed to make any pretense of a following the laws of physics, economics, or evolutionary biology. The original Star Wars trilogy and the Miles Vorkosigan books (both of which I love dearly), are paradigms of space opera in my eyes.

After reading this book (which, at 941 pages, took me about two months to get through), I’m still not entirely sure that I understand what David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer think Space Opera is. Anything scifi and “epic,” as far as I can tell, which seems a useless and trivial definition to me.

All but five of the 32 included stories were new to me, and I certainly found a few authors whose work I will further investigate. Coming to a subgenre survey anthology like this one expects to like some of the stories, and not be crazy about others, and that was indeed my experience here. Of the stories that were new to me, my favorites were “Empire Star” by Samuel R. Delany, “Ring Rats” by R Garcia y Robertson, “Enchantress of Venus” by Leigh Brackett, “Grist” by Tony Daniel and the delicious parody “Space Opera” by Michael Kandel. On the other end of the spectrum, I gave 3s and 4s (out of 10) to “The Swordsmen of Varnis” by Clive Jackson, “The Great Game” by Stephen Baxter, “Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel” by Michael Moorcock, “Aurora in Four Voices” by Catherine Asaro, “The Star Steelers” by Edmond Hamilton, and “Fool’s Errand” by Sarah Zettel.

The introductory materials were well done. ( )
  clong | May 19, 2009 |
I was very excited to receive this book, as Tor is an outstanding publisher, Hartwell an excellent editor, and space opera perhaps my favorite genre in all forms of literatrure. The fundamental problem with this book , alas, is that space opera, by definition, is expansive. Short form space opera is like short form opera: a sort of YouTube version of the good stuff.
  wfzimmerman | Jul 16, 2007 |
An anthology of science fiction stories, from the 60s on. ( )
  Fledgist | May 19, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hartwell, David G.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cramer, KathrynEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Asaro, CatherineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banks, Iain M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baxter, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benford, GregoryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brackett, LeighContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brin, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bujold, Lois McMasterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Daniel, TonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delany, Samuel R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drake, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garcia y Robertson, R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenland, ColinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamilton, EdmondContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamilton, Peter F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, CliveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kandel, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kingsbury, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McAuley, Paul J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, AlastairContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sheckley, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simmons, DanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, CordwainerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Steele, AllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stross, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weber, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Westerfeld, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williamson, JackContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, John C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zettel, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765306174, Hardcover)

"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.

Now, World Fantasy Award-winning anthologists David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer have compiled a definitive overview of this subgenre, both as it was in the days of the pulp magazines, and as it has become in 2005. Included are major works from genre progenitors like Jack Williamson and Leigh Brackett, stylish midcentury voices like Cordwainer Smith and Samuel R. Delany, popular favorites like David Drake, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Ursula K. Le Guin, and modern-day pioneers such as Iain M. Banks, Steven Baxter, Scott Westerfeld, and Charles Stross.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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