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Readers' Advisory Roundtable South
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Readers' Advisory Roundtable South

Genre Study: Space Opera

When: Monday, June 13, 2016
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Where: Cyrenius H. Booth Library
25 Main Street
Newtown, Connecticut  06470
United States
Contact: Stephanie Anderson

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Genre Study: Space Opera


Our June meeting will be a genre study of space opera. Participants are asked to read a selected book for discussion if possible (see list below). Space opera is one of the major subgenres of science fiction, and like SF, includes a huge range of tropes, plot elements, and themes. Some common elements are:

  • The action largely happens in space or on extraterrestrial (non-Earth) planets
  • The scale of the plot occurs on a large scale (often galactic or multiple planets)
  • Alien races are common (but not necessary)
  • Focus is on adventure or military/political/diplomatic crisis instead of the societal consequences of technology advances

As there is a wide spectrum of space operas, we’re offering a choice of primary books to tackle.


Pandora's Style   Dune   Ancillary Justice   The Sparrow   Fuzzy Nation


  • Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton (2004) - Hamilton is one of the premiere authors of Space Opera writing today. This book is an excellent example of everything that makes up Space Opera, including its huge epic length (the hardcover is about 750 pages). Good for readers looking for action and adventure.
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) - this book is one of the canonical pillars of science fiction. Despite its short length, this book packs a wallop of court intrigue and colonialism. It is light on background exposition, and the wide range of unusual names and concepts may be intimidating. Good for readers looking for a multilayered story that explores aspects of politics, ecology, religion, and human will.
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (2013) - one of the top SF books in recent years, winning the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. This book tackles many of the same topics as Dune does, but with a fresher, more modern style. Like Dune, its introduction of unusual names and concepts may be intimidating. A multilayered story that focuses heavily on the themes of identity and offers a look at culture from the perspective of an outsider. Good for readers looking for adventure and mystery.
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1997) - A single survivor returns from a small expedition seeking the source of an alien radio signal. This is a story of exploration, love, and tragedy that deals less with the hard sciences, and more on sociology and linguistics. Good for readers looking for a literary story with a reluctant/unreliable narrator, and a complex chronology.
  • Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (2011) - A light-hearted take on imperialism that questions humanity's limits in its scramble across the galaxy. A smaller focused science fiction story for readers looking for something fun and rebellious with broad strokes of a legal thriller.

Registration is open now - please register using the link above. All are welcome!



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