In episode 252 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates, welcome Jason Batt, Tansy Raynor Roberts, Daniel Abraham, Stephen Hood and Derek Kunsken to discuss:

Hollywood gold or disaster, Space Opera has inspired millions with a love of adventure, the wide open spaces between the stars, and impossible civilizations. But it also has a lot to say about human resilience, and the social and political ramifications of other species.

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The Panel & Links:

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Kevin J. Anderson is the bestselling author of the epic nautical fantasy series Terra Incognita, several books in the Dune series (with Brian Herbert), as well as novels and comics for Star Wars, X-Files, JSA, Titan A.E., StarCraft, Star Trek, Batman/Superman, and many others. He is also the author of the 7-volume Saga of Seven Suns series and its spin-off series which launched this month with The Dark Between the Stars.

Headlong Writing – Producing an Epic at Warp Speed

by Kevin J. Anderson

The Dark Between the Stars is finally out. And what an exhilarating, exhausting effort that was!

Due to a series of unfortunate commitments, travel schedules, and other book obligations, I found myself facing a tough deadline for the first book in a new trilogy set in my popular Saga of Seven Suns universe — The Dark Between the Stars. I had been planning the novel for a year, but there was always some emergency, some crunch proofing deadline, some quick project that took precedence. So I didn’t get around to starting when I thought I would.

Besides, when facing a manuscript that would be close to a thousand pages long, it was easy to procrastinate.
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Table of Contents: SPACE OPERA Edited by Rich Horton

Check out this juicy table of contents for Rich Horton’s upcoming anthology Space Opera:

But first…here’s the book description:

More than five-hundred pages, over one-quarter of a million words… Space Opera spans a vast range of epic interstellar adventure stories told against a limitless cosmos filled with exotic aliens, heroic characters, and incredible settings. A truly stellar compilation of tales from one of the defining streams of science fiction, old and new, written by a supernova of genre talent.

Here’s the table of contents (with story sources)…
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Born in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, and raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC, Amanda Bridgeman grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. That said, she can swoon with the best of them and is really not a fan of bugs. In Perth (WA), she pursued her dreams to study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies). She is a writer and a film buff. She loves most genres, but is particularly fond of the Spec-Fic realm. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in, making you want to follow them on their wild, rollercoaster rides. Her debut novel Aurora:Darwin was published with Momentum in May 2013, and the sequel Aurora: Pegasus was released in December 2013.

My Genre Maidens

by Amanda Bridgeman

Sports fans do it all the time and Marvel and DC Comics are getting in on the action too – creating their dream teams, their fantasy leagues (think The Avengers, Justice League, etc). I’m a huge fan of The Avengers, because let’s face it, it’s a pretty awesome line-up: Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow – all on the one screen. This trend isn’t limited to comic superheroes, however, with the recent release of The Expendables series – a gathering of top action stars, past and present. And now there are moves to create the Expendabelles, an all-female line up.

Thinking about this trend, I started wondering what an all-female line up could look like, and more importantly, what I would want one to look like. So, I sat down, and like Marvel and DC Comics, created my own fantasy league. This wasn’t an exercise in feminism, but a celebration of the female genre superstars that have inspired me and my writing.
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This week, Orbit books held a Google hangout called A Night at the Space Opera: Science Fiction Writers on Our Future in Space in which publicist Ellen Wright fielded reader questions for Daniel Abraham, Ann Leckie and Rachel Bach.

Here’s the video from that event. Good stuff!

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Wanna hang out with Orbit authors Daniel Abraham, Ann Leckie and Rachel Bach? Orbit is hosting a Google Hangout called A Night at the Space Opera: Science Fiction Writers on Our Future in Space on Thursday November 7 allowing you to do just that.

Here are the deets (because I am apparently in too much of a rush to type out the word “details”, but not overly long parenthetical sentences that include the word I was trying to avoid anyway…)
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Bryan Thomas Schmidt has sent along the table of contents for his upcoming anthology Raygun Chronicles, releasing December 2013:

Here’s the book description:

A school teacher who moonlights as an assassin, a corporate agent kidnapped and faced with a man she never wanted to see again, galactic knights and pilots defending the spaceways, a black bear who wants to be a priest, and a time traveler who discovers he was born a prince—these and more tales await you inside RAYGUN CHRONICLES: Space Opera For a New Age, a collection of new tales in the Golden Age style. With larger than life heroes, rayguns, space ships, robots, pirates, romance and more, here come 25 new tales of great fiction from top names like Seanan McGuire, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, A.C. Crispin, Allen M. Steele, Mike Resnick, David Farland and more. Strap in, set your weapons, and get ready for a fun ride!
“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Patient Zero.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Good old fashioned fun awaits within!” – Glen Cook, Author of Black Company, Dread Empire, and Garrett, P.I.

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor, Unidentified Funny Objects

Check out the impressive table of contents:
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Jack Campbell (the pen name of John G. Hemry) writes the New York Times bestselling SF series The Lost Fleet (Dauntless, Fearless,  Courageous, Valiant, Relentless, and Victorious) which has been published in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, China, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel.  He also writes the follow-on series The Lost Fleet – Beyond the Frontier (Dreadnaught, Invincible, and Guardian) and the spin-off series The Lost Stars (Tarnished Knight and the upcoming Perilous Shield).  John is also the author of the Sinclair (JAG in Space) series and the Stark’s War series.  His short fiction has appeared in places as varied as the last Chicks in Chainmail anthology (Turn the Other Chick), and Analog magazine (which published his award winning stories).  His non-fiction on topics ranging from Interstellar Navigation to the Legion of Superheroes has been in (among other places) the Sequart anthology Teenagers From the Future, and anthologies on Charmed, Star Wars, and Superman.  John had the opportunity to live on Midway Island for a while during the 1960s, then later attended the US Naval Academy.  He served in a variety of jobs including gunnery officer and navigator on a destroyer, with an amphibious squadron, and at the Navy’s anti-terrorism center.  He speaks the remnants of Russian pounded into him by the perseverance of Professor Vladimir Tolstoy.  After retiring from the US Navy and settling in Maryland, John began writing.  He lives with his amazing wife (the indomitable S) and three great kids.  His daughter and two sons are diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. He can be found on Facebook and via his website at jack-campbell.com/.

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FULL TRAILER: Space Pirate Captain Harlock

I have no idea what they are saying…but I love the look and the animation in this full trailer for Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The pop soundtrack near the end I could do without, though.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Space Opera for fans of Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert’s Dune prequels, introducing a new universe with creatively inventive worlds, aliens, intergalactic travel, and an epic war to come.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A failed revolution against the tyrannical Constellation government places exiled leader, General Adolphus on a planet at the outer reaches of a new frontier, where geological instability has earned it the name, Hellhole.  General Adolphus proves more resilient than the Constellation’s Diadem presupposed, and with the help of a new alien species, prepares to free the galaxy from its tyrannical government.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Symbiotic nature of alien life creates interesting relationship with humans; sympathetic characters invest readers in epic war to come.
CONS: Telegraphed plot lacks surprises needed to exhilarate reader, including cliffhanger ending.
BOTTOM LINE: Nostalgic readers of Dune prequels will enjoy similar story telling style in Hellhole, but will be disappointed by a cliffhanger ending predicted hundreds of pages before.

Hellhole begins with an emotional conclusion to the revolution against the tyrannical Constellation government, which serves to create strong empathy for the main character, General Adolphus, and a starting point for the moral dilemma of sacrificing innocents as a means to an end.  What follows sets General Adolphus up as a leader on an outcast planet, Hellhole, and his discovery of ways to free a cast of sympathetic characters from various forms of oppression. The chaotic environment on Hellhole entertains while developing characters like his love interest, her daughter, and a heroic love interest for her.

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I’m very excited to share, at John DeNardo’s invitation, the genesis of Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age. My latest project as an anthologist (provided our Kickstarter succeeds), it’s an anthology of new and reprint space opera stories, contemporary but with a classic bent. For many SFF fans, space opera is part of what made them fall in love with speculative fiction. Such was certainly the case for me. I grew up watching Star Trek reruns every night before dinner and then Star Wars hit theatres and I was in love with the possibilities of storytelling. While I shunned the cheesy Dr. Who, I loved Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and movies that followed like The Black Hole, the animated Hobbit, and so on.

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Here is the teaser trailer for Space Pirate Captain Harlock, a film version of a space opera manga that was briefly adapted into a television show in 1978. Captain Harlock is an outcast-turned-space-pirate who rebels against Earth’s Government and mankind’s general feeling of apathy.

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Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short science fiction. He is the winner of five Hugos, a Nebula, and other major awards in the United States, France, Spain, Japan, Croatia and Poland. and has been short-listed for major awards in England, Italy and Australia. He is the author of 68 novels, over 250 stories, and 2 screenplays, and is the editor of 41 anthologies. His work has been translated into 25 languages. He is the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Worldcon and can be found online as @ResnickMike on Twitter or at www.mikeresnick.com.

Brad Torgersen is a full-time healthcare tech geek by day, and United States Army Reserve Warrant Officer on weekends. He is a Writers of the Future winner, as well as a contributing author for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine—the latter awarding him the “AnLab” readers’ choice prize for best novelette, 2010. Presently, Torgersen is a Campbell nominee for Best New Science Fiction writer, Hugo nominee, for his novelette, “Ray of Light,” and also a Nebula nominee, for the same novelette. “Guard Dog” is the first of several collaborations with Mike Resnick. Brad can be found online at bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com.

Their collaboration in the anthology Space Battles, “Guard Dog”, is the moving tale of a Watchfleet sentinel named Chang, who leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected…


BTS: Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

Mike Resnick: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books and Groff Conklin’s anthologies, both around 1950.

Brad Torgersen: My earliest memories of science fiction and fantasy – though I did not recognize what science fiction or fantasy were at the time – were of television programs from the late 70s and the very early 1980s.  The original Battlestar Galactica, the original Star Trek, as well as Japanese animation imports like Battle of the Planets, otherwise known in Japan as Gatchaman.  I was an eager viewer, and when I ultimately went off to see Star Wars on the big screen, I fell in love with the larger-than-life characters, other-worldly settings, and the spectacle of special effects combined with the tantalizing promise of what technology could offer.
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Recent Philip K. Dick Award nominee Jean Johnson co-headlined a new anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt called Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, writing in her Theirs Not To Reason Why military science fiction universe from which a series of novels are being released by Ace. A Soldier’s Duty came out last year and An Officer’s Duty will be out in July. “It’s Not A Game” from the Space Grunts: Full-Throttle Space Tales #3 anthology was also set in this universe. She’s also the author of The Sword, The Wolf, The Cat and The Mage, amongst other bestselling fantasy romances. To check out more of her works, visit her at www.jeanjohnson.net.

Jean wishes to acknowledge everyone who has given support to their loved ones in the military, as well as to the soldiers themselves for serving.


BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Jean Johnson: I was invited back to submit again, which was an honor. I’d originally been published before by Flying Pen Press in #3, Space Grunts, with a story set in the same universe as this one. As for how I got into Space Grunts… You know, I can’t remember? I think it was through a friend of a friend.
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REVIEW: Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell

REVIEW SUMMARY: Cybernetically strung-out freedom fighter leads a too-large cast in a too-small book that fires and…misses.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In Ragamuffin, Nashara is a last ditch effort, centuries in the making, to usurp the yoke of alien rule by the pirate-like force of terran traditionalists, that refuse to submit to the masters of humanity.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Technology; world building; unique.

CONS: Pacing; characterizations.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want something different, here you go. If you want something good with character and pacing, I advise to look elsewhere.

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[Matthew Sanborn Smith is a writer whose work has appeared at Chiaroscuro, Everyday Weirdness and the StarShipSofa podcast. He podcasts at Beware the Hairy Mango.]

Here’s what happens when you take E.E. Doc Smith, superhero comics and seven different kinds of speed and you smoosh ‘em all together:

R.E.B.E.L.S.

It’s DC Comics’ latest foray into smashing four-color space opera. (But what with computers and all today, they’re probably up to eight-color.) On one side, a classic revamped Justice League of America villain has built himself an empire spanning nine galaxies and you and I are sitting on the future site of number ten. His armies are endless, unquestioningly loyal and his elite troops have powers far beyond those of the Average Joe and Josephine.

Protecting us from a fate worse than himself is Vril Dox, the Milky Way’s biggest jerkwad and a twelfth level intelligence thanks to his dad, Superman foe, Brainiac. (Author’s note: I first typed Braniac, who I think is a super-villain who wreaks havoc while promoting regular bowel movements.) Vril would sell his grandmother for an ice cream cone and many of his followers would gladly kill him if only he wasn’t keeping worse things at bay.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Space Opera is alive and well.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 19 stories attempting to define the New Space Opera movement.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: 15 entertaining stories, 4 of which were outstanding.

CONS: 4 stories were mediocre or worse.

BOTTOM LINE: A very good collection of space opera stories for a modern audience.

I missed out reading the first edition of this series, so I made an extra effort to read The New Space Opera 2, edited by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan. (Browse inside.) As per their introduction, it attempts to help define a new literary movement, one resulting from the evolution of space opera from being the “true heart of science fiction” to a genre that adds more rigorous science, more character depth, better writing and sensitivity to political realities. Based on this definition, does the anthology succeed?

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My Favorite Type Of Science Fiction: Space Opera

spaceopera.JPG

This post has been a long time in the making. I first get the idea from reading Jeff VanderMeer’s blog entry on the Amazon blog a few weeks ago. Much like Jeff, I like Space Opera for its large sense of scale, larger then life heroics and unstoppable threats. Add in some cool science fiction gadgets and technology, and you ‘widescreen’ science fiction filled with action and adventure. For me, the modern day take on Space Opera is some of the best science fiction out there. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir with this list, but I’m going to put it down anyway. I know if you disagree, you’ll let me know in the comments…

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