By Grant Wythoff, May 28, 2022
A SPACE OPERA revival is in full flight.
But it’s not streaming on Amazon or any other platform owned by someone trying to escape to Mars. While studios hungry for prestige intellectual property are mining a much older space opera paradigm with adaptations like Foundation and Dune, books by a diverse group of writers from around the world are beginning to rework the tropes of speculative fiction’s oldest and pulpiest tradition.
This revitalization of space opera — stories traditionally set in distant futures when humanity has spread to worlds beyond the solar system — comes at an odd time. Many vanguard SF and literary authors alike, having finally acknowledged that it’s no longer possible to ignore the climate emergency, are writing influential, near-future works of climate fiction.
Why, then, has a new generation of authors like Nnedi Okorafor, Yoon Ha Lee, Ann Leckie, Hao Jingfang, Charlie Jane Anders, and Maurice Broaddus turned to stories of other worlds, when the fate of ours hangs in the balance?