In some of my best Space Opera reads of 2022, I’ve noticed a recurring theme of searching for humanity above all, and I love it! I pick up Space Opera for a glimpse at future civilizations, and when I do, I long for the humanity our heroes find that encourages them to push past whatever obstacles are in their way.
In Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio, that search discovers a library on a planet at the end of civilization. What secrets of our distant past might explain how his generation arrived at such a feat? Ruocchio catalogs the journey of the most interesting man in the universe, who’ll wage war with empires boasting spaceships 500 miles long. The scope is beyond my imagination, yet I am obsessed with trying.
With ships and decades passing by while we enjoy the view, the greater focus in that series is on the secrets of humanity. At war with his royal parents and heritage, our hero is compelled to move through humanity’s dark present while researching civilization-ending secrets from humanity’s dark past.
I love that trope of searching for Earth. Isn’t it ironic that I live on Earth, yet I’m fascinated with reading books about people star systems away, dreaming of finding an inhabited Earth? Do you like those kinds of books too?
No doubt, we long to unravel the mystery of how our people left the Milky Way and survived!
But it wouldn’t be interesting without seeing how they survived, and how the current generation works together to rediscover the home of their dreams.
Their home is our dream, and perhaps vice versa. We’re a funny lot, humans. Maybe that’s why Bobiverse is so funny. Not to mention my theory Dennis is an AI writing about humanity-loving AI, and I’m waiting for him to laugh at us all some day.
I digress. Another epic Space Opera I’ve binged this year is the Backyard Starship series by Chaney and Maggert. In case you were wondering, the hero discovers a starship in his backyard. Yeah! Guess who it’s from. See: excitement in the search for humanity trumps scientific exploration every time. The ship and its components are fascinating, but the crew and what they long for is why we stick around, turning pages to see how they’ll survive the next bad guy.
I just picked up a $.99 gem from Partlow and Holden called Pirate Bounty. The story centers around a war hero who comes home to familial betrayals of the highest order, yet what’s he to do? He’s going to take a rusty ol’ ship that’ll probably break down in the middle of nowhere and you and I both know we’ll love it. First, he must amass a new crew of misfits—like us all—and explore! Survive, humanity!
That’s what I’m loving about Space Opera these days. I can’t wait to uncover some gems for my reading list for 2023.
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Mike Jack says
Thank you for writing and posting this. I too am a huge fan of space opera, and I have often gotten seriously invested in the search for Earth in fiction. I think part of the appeal is the sense of hope, wonder, and excitement the characters inevitably feel each step of progress along the way–and if they’re well written, the readers feel it too. As a high school teacher turned author and editor, I find myself speaking a lot about this need for hope in science fiction.
Y’all keep writing it; people will keep reading it.