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Pick My Next Space Opera: ‘The Spiral Arm’ Series Vs. ‘The Apotheosis Trilogy’

This week’s Mind Meld on interstellar travel gave me a hankering for some good old space based SF, as near to space opera as I can get. It just so happens that Michael Flynn was one of the respondents and the cover to his In The Lion’s Mouth caught my eye. I read The January Dance awhile ago and I remember enjoying quite a bit, much more than John did, but I never saw the second book come out and so forgot about it.

As I was digging through my book shelf for The January Dancer I ran across S. Andrew Swann’s Prophets: Apotheosis Book One. I remember really liking this one (John did, too) and so a quandary presented itself. Which to read? Luckily both series are now at three books each so there’s a lot of Space Opera goodness I can read back to back (to back). I’m going to read both series, probably one after the other, but I’m throwing it open to you, the SF Signal reader, which one should I read first?

If you’ve read either or both, leave a comment and tell me your thoughts about these books!

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
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18 Comments on Pick My Next Space Opera: ‘The Spiral Arm’ Series Vs. ‘The Apotheosis Trilogy’

  1. The 2nd book in the Apotheosis trilogy is really good, Heretics. I haven’t read Michael Flynn. Otherwise I’d go Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth saga.

    • I’ve already read all of Hamilton’s Commonwealth stuff, I find the Night’s Dawn Trilogy to be better. But I like the way you think!

  2. go with S. Andrew Swann his latest trilogy is good, and so was the previous trilogy.

  3. Bob Blough // February 10, 2012 at 2:26 am //

    I have really liked both of the Flynn novels and think they are minor masterpieces of “Space Opera”. Already have my order in for the third book. (but first catching up on last years novels- just finished Leviathan Wakes – excellent in solar system space opera). I have not read any Swann so I cannot compare but I think the Spiral Arm series is an excellent read!

  4. Neither. You want a good space opera trilogy, then try either Michael Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire trilogy – Seeds of Earth, The Orphaned worlds and The Ascendant Stars; or Gary Gibson’s Shoal trilogy – Stealing Light, Nova War and Empire of Light.

    • I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of either of these two series, and Space Opera is one of my favorite types of SF.

      On the plus side, I now have 6 more books to add to my list.

      Thanks Ian!

  5. The Apotheosis trilogy certainly was a very fun read, and it (imo) improves from book to book. I did find it a little bit on the short side, however (accustomed to Reynold’s and Hamilton’s 800+ page books), but I suppose the upshot is that there is very little plodding. Whether it is a grand space opera, though… I’m not certain. I mean, the theme certainly is, but the -feel- of the book was as if was a lot more personal, low-scale. I’d say that (perhaps due to pacing, or the author’s prose) if you are looking for a “space opera” in the same feeling as, say, the Revelation Space trilogy, then Apotheosis is not quite what you want. It’s more of a fun, short action-focused romp.

    Haven’t read Flynn’s works yet, so can’t realy say much on those.

  6. Either. Both. And read Ian’s suggestions as well. And then pick up the two “New Space Opera” anthologies for more suggestions.

    You know if you don’t read the one, De Nardo will never speak to you again.

    • That’s what I was going to say, Fred. If you don’t read Swan, John will Hulk out on you.

      I haven’t read Swann, but I’ve read Flynn’s stuff for years.

    • Which ‘the one’ are you referring to Fred? I’ve read both New Space Opera books already. John actually gave on to me for my birthday several years back.

      And is it really a bad thing if John never speaks to me again? (for John -> 😉 SSTM)

  7. Go with the S. Andrew Swann book.

  8. Jeff Patterson // February 10, 2012 at 8:50 am //

    Apotheosis is more exciting, but it also has many books of “future history” that came before it. That history pops up once in a while and can be confusing without knowing the background. Not enough to make it a less-than-thrilling read, though.

    The Flynn books are hefty, exacting works, where each character has deeply personal stakes in the outcome of the story. It is much more “literary” than Apotheosis, but by the end of Up Jim River I was hoping for more conflict.

    I’d also recommend the Federations anthology from a few years ago, as well as Godlike Machines and Engineering Infinity, all of which have some neat spins on space opera tropes.

  9. I read the first book in both series and enjoyed the Swann MUCH more. Like you, I have the other two on the shelf staring at me and making me feel guilty for leaving them unread for so long.

    So yeah, go with Swann. Besides, like the other folks said, you don’t want to make John D. angry at you.

  10. Gerry M. Allen // February 10, 2012 at 11:59 am //

    Hartwell and Cramer use a working definition of space opera that resonates with me. By their lights, the Swann series is best. I’ve read both and I vote for Swann as well.

  11. I’ve not read Swann. I read January Dancer last year & found it to be great. Looking forward to reading Up Jim River and, eventually, In the Lion’s Mouth. Flynn’s talk at last year’s Worldcon was a treat, too.

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