Operatic Overtures
Newer books proving that space opera is alive and kicking


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Consider Phlebas
by Iain M Banks (1987)


The first novel to be set in Banks' Culture universe is a rip-roaring space opera not to be missed. A shapechanger allies himself with the enemies of the morally ambiguous Culture, only to find that they are religious zealots. His crew of mercenaries sets off to a Planet of the Dead in search of a powerful fugitive Mind. Real success in America is long overdue for this fine writer.





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Gap Into Conflict: The Real Story [S1]
by Stephen R Donaldson (1990)


Better known as the author of cult fantasy series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, here Donaldson turns his hand to space opera. The first book in the five-volume The Gap series met with mixed critical reviews and even fans of the series generally prefer later volumes. In the first chapter a space pirate swipes a babe imprisoned by another space pirate, then the story is told in more detail.





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A Fire Upon the Deep
by Vernor Vinge (1991)


Physical laws relax a bit on the edges of space - populated by everything from the super-intelligent beings of the Transcend to the low-tech races of the Unthinking Depths. Scientists unintentionally unleash a destructive Blight, the hero's spacecraft is chased by lots of warships, and space operatic manoeuvres save the day. Vinge at his vicious best.





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The Time Ships
by Stephen Baxter (1995)


The conflict between the Morlocks and Eloi from Wells' Time Machine returns - with a modern understanding of quantum physics breathing new life into the equation. The hero tries to go back to the future to have another crack at saving Eloi friend Weena, but his first trip has already turned the universe topsy-turvy. Fascinating Wellsian treatise.





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The Reality Dysfunction [S1]
by Peter F Hamilton (1996)


UK writer Hamilton kicked off his popular Night's Dawn Trilogy with this sprawling saga set six centuries into the future. Humanity is colonising planets throughout the galaxy while the Confederation Navy stands guard. Conflict arises between the genetically engineered Edenists and the pioneering Adamists. Superb writer who is bound to get even better.





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Revelation Space
by Alastair Reynolds (2000)


Ruthlessly-brilliant scientist Dan Sylveste has already survived the toughest the Universe has to offer, and is now intuitively drawn to Resurgam - home of the Amarantin lost-race. When a decaying lightship shows up everyone heads off to a neutron star defended by a revelatory alien artefact. Space opera is well and truly alive and kicking.





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The Algebraist
by Iain M Banks (2004)


The sad passing of Scottish writer Iain M Banks in 2013 left sci-fi readers with only his superb Culture series and this rip-roaring space operatic stand-alone that is not to be missed. In 4034 A.D. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, searches for a secret hidden for half a billion years. But with each day that passes a war of cosmic ramifications draws closer.





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Pandora's Star [S1]
by Peter F Hamilton (2004)


By the 24th century Earth is the centre of the colonial-style Intersolar Commonwealth, all made possible by the discovery of wormhole travel. When the stars 2000 light years in the distance known as the Dyson Pair disappear, a faster-than-light ship is needed to satisfy humankind's curiosity. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga kicks off with intensity and intelligence.


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