Summer Reading Challenge #2: An Ode to Space Operas

By Ashley Rands, Marketing

Second challenge in the summer reading challenge and it is an exciting one! In the grand tapestry of science fiction, few subgenres evoke the same sense of wonder, adventure, and boundless imagination as space operas. These sprawling epics, set against the backdrop of galaxies far, far away, have captivated audiences for generations with their tales of heroism, exploration, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. From the classics of yesteryear to the modern masterpieces of today, space operas continue to transport us to distant worlds and ignite our imaginations like few other genres can. At their core, space operas are characterized by their larger-than-life scope, intricate world-building, and epic storytelling. 

Space Opera Recommendations

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

Follow the story of Genly Ai, a human native of Terra, who is sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets. Ai’s mission is to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen. However, he is stymied by a lack of understanding of their culture. Individuals on Gethen are ambisexual, with no fixed sex. This has a strong influence on the culture of the planet, and creates a barrier of understanding for Ai.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die. Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret. 

Poor Man’s Fight by Elliott Kay

In this six book series Tanner Malone fails the crucial Test. It leaves him with immense debt and no choice but to join the Archangel star system’s navy. He soon faces harsh bullying from his shipmates and the threat of a brewing civil war and space pirates. As he starts basic training, the government intensifies its military efforts against the ruthless raiders disrupting human space. These outlaws, led by the cunning Captain Casey, blend their democratic ideals with acts of violence. Tanner deploys to the front lines, confronting enemies and harsh conditions head-on. To survive, he learns that close-quarters combat is essential against both his adversaries and the perils of space.

Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart

Glynn Stewart is a master of writing science fiction and space opera. In this fifteen book series magic has been unlocked by alien genetic engineering and is the only way to travel faster than light. Damien Montgomery graduates into the elite Jump Mages yet discovers that without connections, he cannot find a ship and is stuck. Damien is soon into a conflict with the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy—and to the attention of the Mage-King of Mars himself!

Into the Dark by JA Sutherland

It is steampunk and space opera combined in this 7 book series. Alexis Carew faces a problem – she’s a girl, and only a boy can inherit the family’s vast holdings. She must marry and watch a stranger run the lands, or become a penniless tenant and see the lands she so dearly loves sold off. Yet there may be another option. One that involves becoming a midshipman on a shorthanded Navy spaceship with no other women.

Other popular space opera books you might have heard of:

The Kindred by Alechia Dow. Dune by Frank Herbert, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Space operas stand as a testament to the boundless imagination of humanity and our enduring fascination with the mysteries of the cosmos. With their epic scope, intricate world-building, and timeless themes, space operas continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the world. So buckle up, engage the warp drive, and prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey to the stars. The final frontier awaits.