SFRevu takes a shot at defining “space opera” as a genre, in Space Opera Redefined.

Looking at the list of the contemporary space opera books, I’d have to say that, IMO, those books are the ones I consider SF first, and space opera second, if at all. I’m not sure I’d classify The Book of the New Sun as opera. To me, space opera takes place in, well, space, and has characters flying around in space ships blasting the hell out of each other. Night’s Dawn Trilogy anyone? In other words, action uber alle, story secondary, good characters and/or lack of SF cliches last. Of course, Night’s Dawn is a heckuva series and very enjoyable. Even with the ending….

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