I'm working my way through the Hartwell & Cramer SPACE OPERA RENAISSANCE anthology, and finding it well-done and to my taste -- I think it's Hartwell's best BIG review-anthology yet. Truly a doorstop: 940+ pages!, with a surprisingly large number of new-to-me stories.
Space Opera, as Hartwell points out in his nicely-done introductory essay and story notes, is a flexible concept. And when you get to New Space Opera, or Widescreen Baroque Space Opera -- well, no one really knows what these are. Really, space opera is what Hartwell (or whoever) points to when he says "space opera"...
Anyway, take a look at this juicy lineup:
(my faves are starred*)
Introduction: *How Shlt became Shinola, Definition & Redefinition of Space Opera, by Hartwell & Cramer
I. Redefined Writers
"The Star Stealers" by Edmond Hamilton
"The Prince of Space" by Jack Williamson
"Enchantress of Venus" by Leigh Brackett
*"The Swordsmen of Varnis" by Clive Jackson
II. Draftees (1960s)
***"The Game of Rat & Dragon" by Cordwainer Smith
"Empire Star" by Samuel R. Delany
"Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenjik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerly Dead" by Robert Sheckley
III. Transitions/Redefiners (late 1970s to late 1980s)
*"Temptation" by David Brin
"Ranks of Bronze" by David Drake
*"Weatherman" by Lois McMaster Bujold
"A Gift from the Culture" by Iain M. Banks
IV. Volunteers:Revisionaries (early 90s)
*"Orphans of the Helix" by Dan Simmons
"The Well Wishers" by Colin Greenland
*"Escape Route" by Peter Hamilton
"Ms Midshipwoman Harrington" by David Weber
"Aurora in Four Voices" by Catherine Asaro
**"Ring Rats" by R. Garcia y Robertson
*"The Death of Captain Future" by Allen Steele
V. Mixed Signals/ Mixed Categories (to the late 1990s)
*"A Worm in the Well" by Gregory Benford
**"The Survivor" by Donald Kingsbury
"Fools Errand" by Sarah Zettel
"The Shobies Story" by Ursula K. Le Guin
"The Remoras" by Robert Reed
"Recording Angel" by Paul McAuley
"The Great Game" by Steven Baxter
"Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel" by Michael Moorcock
"Space Opera" by Michael Kandel
VI. Next Wave (21st Century)
"Grist" by Tony Daniel
"The Movements of her Eyes" by Scott Westerfeld
*"Spirey and the Queen" by Alastair Reynolds
*"Bear Trap" by Charles Stross
"Guest Law" by John C. Wright
Some story comments:
"The Game of Rat & Dragon" (1955) by Cordwainer Smith. My favorite Smith classic, which is to say one of the best SF shorts ever, Hasn't dated one bit in a half-century. Meow!
Dan Simmons' "Orphans of the Helix" (1999, _Far Horizons_), is a tasty, atmospheric and thoroughly space-operatic travel-adventure, set in the Hyperian Cantos universe. Pure travelogue and goshwow, mind --allegedly, this started life as a TV treatment. Would have made a nice show, if the SFX turned out well....
There's a new-to-me David Brin short: "Temptation" (1999), Streaker dolphins in Jijo's ocean. Quite a nice one, and reminds me of the good bits in the Jijo books -- like the sheer audacity of (literally) scraping a technical civilization into the ocean. In theory, anyway <G>. Those tricky Buyurs!
Donald Kingsbury's long novella "The Survivor" (1991) is set in Larry Niven's Known Space universe, during the Man/Kzin wars, and is a proxy for Niven, a Space Opera King who's notably absent. It's the first half of his Lt. Nora Argamentine saga, set just after the Fall of Wunderland. John Clute thought it one of the best stories of 1991, and so do I.
"Ring Rats" (2002) by R. Garcia y Robertson: Space pirates! --pure adrenaline rush, with some nasty bits. Strong stuff, one of his best yet.
"Spirey and the Queen" (1996) by Alastair Reynolds: which has "some of that space-war sizzle and true weirdness that we see as a primary appeal of late-model space opera" -- Hartwell
Anyway, there's a ton of good stories here, most of which you'll be happy to add to your permanent library. Check it out.
Peter D. Tillman
Review first published at SF Site