How Can Science Fiction Authors Keep Space Opera Relevant?

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Le site Sf Signal.com publie chaque semaine une nouvelle question sur la science-fiction ou la fantasy, et interroge ainsi de nombreux auteurs, invités à donner leur avis en une courte réponse; Cette semaine, la question est How Can Science Fiction Authors Keep Space Opera Relevant?. 

Voici un extrait des réponses relevées : 
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Kage Baker 
Kage Baker was born in Hollywood, California and has lived there and in Pismo Beach most of her life. Before becoming a professional writer she spent many years in theater, including teaching Elizabethan English as a second language. She is best known for her Company series of historical time travel science fiction. 
Relevant? Today's news will be dated tomorrow. Why bother with relevance? You might as well demand that Tolkien be politically correct. Space Opera being a retro style, it should be indulged in with mucho retro gusto. Human passions on alien worlds! Action! Adventure! Really Wild Things! The big evolutionary drama played out against the universe in a timeless way. It makes for good stories, and good storytelling stands the test of time. The Wild West vanished long ago, but no one ever remarks that western stories are irrelevant. If I'm going to write genre stuff I will revel in it, not cringe and worry whether I'm relevant enough for today's tastes. 

Paul McAuley 
Paul McAuley has been earning his living writing novels, short stories and occasional pieces of journalism since 1996. Paul has written many science fiction stories, most of them hard science fiction, including The Confluence Trilogy. 

All generalisations have exceptions, and the statement that space opera sub-genre is firmly entrenched in the confines of the science-fiction field is no exception - space-operish novels by Cecelia Holland, M.K. Joseph, Doris Lessing, and Frederick Turner spring to mind* . But I do think it's broadly right, as long as we stick to print rather than movies and TV series. One reason is that space opera requires deployment of the full orchestra of SF themes and memes. That's a large part of its attraction for me, anyhow. And while it's possible for a few talented writers to invent it from whole cloth, usually anyone who tries to write space opera has to be familiar with all that SF stuff, and to be familiar with it they have to have read widely in the field. Given that it burgeons forth from the pulsing heart of the SF genre, how then can space opera be relevant to anything other than the current state of SF? First, I think that it is relevant in the same way that all SF bears some relevance to the time in which it was written, for no matter how deeply buried, there always traces of the happening world or the recent past in any SF text. Second, many authors deliberately attempt to use recent history to give some vital underpinning to the vast narrative sweeps of space opera. For instance, James Blish has stated that his Cities in Flight series was influenced by hobo culture during the Depression, and by the historical theories of Spengler. More recent space operas (the kind of thing John Clute called 'cosmogony opera') have been deeply imprinted by speculations revolving around cosmological theories and cutting-edge physics. So space opera will remain relevant so long as the people writing it remain aware of what's going on around them, are able to filter useful details into the story, and give the unbelievable a local habitation, and a name. 

* The Floating Worlds; The Hole in the Zero; The Canopus in Argos series; A Double Shadow

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Priscilla Duran-Mulas
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