Les meilleurs Space Opera


Le site SF Signal a demandé à plusieurs auteurs quels étaient selon eux les meilleurs Space Opera.

Parmi les réponses, il y a celle de Peter F. Hamilton :
"An appreciation about my favourite Space Operas. Well that should be easy enough, I thought when the request appeared in my inbox. Then we immediately get into definitions. Trying to decide What is Space Opera? has filled entire forums for weeks on end, it's not a debate that's ever going to end. So for the purposes of this piece, it's what I personally enjoyed, and fits with the widest definition of galaxy-sprawling epic.

The Lensman series
I'm wondering how many people will nominate this. It is the acknowledged absolute classic Space Opera. I read it in the seventies when it was re-released in the UK by the Panther imprint. Specifically 1973, when I was laid up with a broken leg, and my mum went down to the local bookshop to find me some Science Fiction to keep me occupied. Whenever I talk about this at public events I always say that I don't read it anymore because it's kinda old fashioned and I don't want to spoil the memory. Which I guess goes back to another definition of when was the golden age of Science Fiction - when you're thirteen.

But... I've just picked one off the shelf (Children of the Lens) and read a couple of paragraphs. I definitely won't be doing that again. It really is best left to memory. But what a memory. Two ancient alien races with superminds, one evil one good, competing for dominance of the universe, with the good ones directing evolution so that it might ultimately produce a species that would defeat the bad guys. That was humans that got chosen for their potential, of course. The starting point is history, with Atlantis as part of the struggle, then on through the cold war and into the future. All the while breeding humans to produce a strain of the strongest most powerful... er, hang on, that seems a bit -well, Nazi-like. That's what growing old and cynical does for you, I suppose. After all, today's Space Operas just use genetic engineering to elevate humans -all nicely politically neutral, even if it has the same result. But if you overlook the political incorrectness (which it wasn't at the time it was written) and yes the somewhat sexist stereotyping as well, it is a classic story, with the noble Galactic Patrol flying off to have huge and actually quite innovative space battles with the fleets of evil henchaliens. Yes, we've rightly moved on, and it doesn't warrant a close examination or even a re-read, but it certainly set the tone of big ambitious storytelling which lasts to this day. I owe it a great deal.

The Mote In God's Eye
The first of the more realistic (if we can ever use that word in relation to this genre) Space Operas I read. It's a first contact novel, with an alien race that's hiding a big secret. The difference here is that Niven and Pournelle have thought out their world building, and it shows. The technology and the society are complimentary and work well together. The aliens also are well-realized, right down to their biology and asymmetric profile.

The story doesn't have the kind of huge battles traditional to Space Opera, though there are fights between warships, again technologically believable. Instead we have what amounts to a battle of wits between the humans team sent on the expedition to the alien homeworld, and the aliens themselves. All the information is collected, the characters just need to put it together correctly. Given the book's structure, it makes for a gripping read, especially in the last section.

Very much in the supertechnology league, and full of imagination. An asteroid from a future that isn't quite our future arrives in Earth orbit and triggers a nuclear war. But the core of the asteroid holds a stunning secret, it has a singularity habitat which stretches on forever. This book again set new standards, taking the reader on a journey through time and alternate realities. Along with providing a truly impressive enemy, Eon was also pushing the boundaries with various advanced human concepts. It epitomises the modern Space Opera with both its exploration of science-based concepts and the possibilities that will produce in relation to society, as well as being genuinely exciting.

The Forever War
Not quite the epic in the classic sense that I was talking about at the start. However, The Forever War certainly has every other component of Space Opera. Galaxy wide war that lasts for centuries, enigmatic evil aliens (apparently) grunts in power armour, starflight, high tech weapons, a fight to save the human race (allegedly). The story is about the one man to survive the entire length of the war -due to a quirk of relativity. It's been called by many as the dark antidote to Starship Troopers, and I think I'm happily aligned with that group of thought. In no way is it about the glory of war, quite the opposite. However, in telling the story it does, it takes the reader on the classic sensawonder journey required by the genre. And more, it makes you think. Subversive stuff indeed. This is a particular favourite of mine."
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