Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Space Opera Renaissance
edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
Tor, 941 pages

The Space Opera Renaissance
David G. Hartwell
David G. Hartwell is an editor at Tor Books, as well as being a highly-respected author in his own right. He wrote Age of Wonders (1984), and has been editor/anthologizer of such works as The Dark Descent, Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment, Northern Stars (with Glenn Grant), and the relatively new annual volume, Year's Best SF.

David Hartwell Website
ISFDB Bibliography
The New York Review of Science Fiction
SF Site Review: The Space Opera Renaissance
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy 6
SF Site Review: The Hard SF Renaissance
SF Site Review: Year's Best SF 5
SF Site Review: Northern Suns
SF Site Review: Northern Stars
SF Site Review: Year's Best SF 3
SF Site Review: The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF
The Golden Age of Best SF Collections: A Chronicle

Kathryn Cramer
Kathryn Cramer is co-editor (with David G. Hartwell) of Spirits of Christmas (1989) and Walls of Fear (1990). Her story, "The End of Everything" (1990), appeared in Asimov's SF magazine.

Kathryn Cramer Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Wonderbook: The Magazine for Curious Readers

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

I'm working my way through the David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer The 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 at 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 the juicy lineup below (my favorites are starred [*]).

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. It's pure travelogue and goshwow, mind -- supposedly, this started life as a TV treatment. It would have made a nice show, if the SFX turned out well....

There's a new-to-me David Brin short titled "Temptation" (1999), Streaker dolphins in Jijo's ocean. It is 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. Those tricky Buyurs!

Donald Kingsbury's long novella "The Survivor" (1991) is set in Larry Niven's Known Space, during the Man/Kzin wars, and is a proxy for Niven, a Space Opera King who's notably absent here. 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! It's a 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," says 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.

Table of Contents
Introduction: How Shlt Became Shinola, Definition & Redefinition of Space Opera David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
I. Redefined Writers
"The Star Stealers" Edmond Hamilton
"The Prince of Space" Jack Williamson
"Enchantress of Venus" Leigh Brackett
"The Swordsmen of Varnis" Clive Jackson
II. Draftees (1960s)
"The Game of Rat & Dragon" Cordwainer Smith
"Empire Star" Samuel R. Delany
"Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenjik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerly Dead" Robert Sheckley
III. Transitions/Redefiners (late 1970s to late 1980s)
"Temptation" David Brin
"Ranks of Bronze" David Drake
"Weatherman" Lois McMaster Bujold
"A Gift from the Culture" Iain M. Banks
IV. Volunteers:Revisionaries (early 90s)
"Orphans of the Helix" Dan Simmons
"The Well Wishers" Colin Greenland
"Escape Route" Peter Hamilton
"Ms Midshipwoman Harrington" David Weber
"Aurora in Four Voices" Catherine Asaro
"Ring Rats" 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" Gregory Benford
"The Survivor" Donald Kingsbury
"Fools Errand" Sarah Zettel
"The Shobies Story" Ursula K. Le Guin
"The Remoras" Robert Reed
"Recording Angel" Paul McAuley
"The Great Game" Steven Baxter
"Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel" Michael Moorcock
"Space Opera" Michael Kandel
VI. Next Wave (21st Century)
"Grist" Tony Daniel
"The Movements of her Eyes" Scott Westerfeld
"Spirey and the Queen" Alastair Reynolds
"Bear Trap" by Charles Stross
"Guest Law" John C. Wright

Copyright © 2007 Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Amazon, Infinity-Plus, SF Site, and others. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more of Pete's reviews.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide