When is Space Opera NOT Space Opera?

In my household, we’re just digging into Season 5 of The Expanse and I said to my partner that I thought Season 4 was rather weak compared to the other seasons.  Part of the problem, I added, was that it was set almost entirely on one planet and therefore wasn’t really space opera.

At which point my partner turned to me and said “Oh, yeah, well your latest book in the Iron Hammer series is all set on one planet, too!”

At which point, I shut up.

There’s a sub-genre of science fiction out there called a planetary romance, and theoretically, both Season 4 of The Expanse  and Planetary Parlay could both be pushed into that genre.

Which begs the question:  What is Space Opera?

Dune is considered the granddaddy of space opera but nearly all the action happens on one planet, Arrakis.

Star Wars is set in space, with planet-hopping galore, space ships blowing up, battles, and more, but most self-respecting SF fans define Star Wars as science fantasy, not space opera.

I sat and had a think about what makes a story space opera to me, and while I like to see space ships, planet hopping, adventures galore, what most makes a story a fabulous space opera is the scale of the story.  There’s always entire worlds, galaxies or empires in peril.  There are often thousands of lives at stake.  And most importantly to me, there are power plays and politics.  Heads of state clash, revolutions, wars and feuds break out.  The story has a huge canvas, often with a cast of thousands.

That isn’t to say that new space opera is at all tongue in cheek or superficial.  It is absolutely not pulp fiction (not any more).  It can be thoughtful, full of character, and brilliantly written–but you still see worlds rise and fall, races and species wax and wane, while very human main characters try to survive and make sense of it all.

So I was forced to take back my statement about Season 4 of The Expanse.  It is still grand space opera, even though most of it took place on a single planet–because the actions and events on that planet affected entire galaxies of people.

So to with Planetary Parlay.  Everything happens on the one planet (except for a minor flashback), but what happens on that planet turns the lives of Danny and her crew and friends upside down and inside out.

Planetary Parlay is released at all retailers today.

Into the Heartland of the Enemy

Danny and her allies risk traveling to the home world of the slavers, in an attempt to divert a war that experts all say is inevitable.   Danny is a reluctant participant, the only Carinad who thinks the diplomatic mission is a bad idea.  It puts her in direct opposition to Jai Van Veen, and threatens their decades long friendship.

Yet they must still work together to make the mission a success, even though it goes wrong right from the start…

Planetary Parlay is the third book in the Iron Hammer space opera science fiction series by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper. The Iron Hammer series is a spin off from the acclaimed Imperial Hammer series, and features many of the characters and situations from that series.

The Iron Hammer series:
1.0: Galactic Thunder
2.0: Stellar Storm
3.0: Planetary Parlay
4.0: Waxing War
5.0: Ruled Out
6.0: Stranger Stars
7.0: Federal Force
8.0: Redline Rebels

Space Opera Science Fiction Novel

Don’t forget, if you pre-order the book direct from me (on the SRP site), then you get your copy a week earlier than everyone else.   That’s next Thursday, instead of two weeks from now.


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