Space Opera? What’s that?

All too often, the phrase is tossed around in a scornful manner. For me, that’s saddening. Space Opera is a lovely sub-genre that is unbound by many of the things that often hobble an author and prevent them from painting the entirety of their opus. I suppose this mindset arrived with the invention of the TV’s episodic nature.  Yes, every Star Trek episode followed a specific pattern: the problem, the internal and external drama, then the conclusion. All of that happened within 60 minutes, or infrequently 120 minutes to comprise the entirety of a two-part episode.

But that is not what makes Star Trek a Space Opera. Nor does the fact that it’s on a traveling ship exploring here or there. (Shift the time frame and a story like that could be a pirate ship, some explorers or, in the case of some romances, maybe a story painted against Europe’s colonization efforts.) No, what makes Star Trek, Star Wars, and Farscape Space Operas is the intertwined-yet-also-long-term story arcs. The story of Farscape, for example, isn’t so much as Crichton finding his place inside a new society. It is a story of Crichton’s humanity among inhumane and outlandish cultures, including all the passion and comedy that entails.

The fundamental question always posed by Science Fiction is “who are we among these changes?” That, of course, begs the question: “Do we like what we’ve become?” Consequently, that opens up lanes of exploration for authors to investigate those questions against a backdrop that won’t offend anyone. In sum: within Space Opera, look for who we are to be explored against  emotional vistas of amazing scope.

As with Star Trek’s core question of “what makes someone human?” (via his exploration of Spock, and Data, and that Holography doctor) the fundamental questions addressed in a Space Opera is asked and answered in more than one book. Each book of a Space Opera series can be viewed as an “episode.” Also, they are either tightly or loosely linked. However, they are linked.

The grist for this mill is our socio-political landscape. Which is why many romance authors miss the point of Futuristic Romance. Sci-Fi is who we are and how we are, not how well be “bang.” All of the above brings me to my point: my Space Opera series and the first book Catching Her Balance.

Welcome to my Seven Galaxies, specifically the people of Korrlon. An aggressively patriarchal society that cling fiercely, even violently, to their caste structure. Greed is rampant and the privileged intend to keep their privilege whatever the cost to the people around them. As what happens in cases like this, children pay the price. Son’s got to war for the ruling caste’s privilege, and daughters are used for financial and political gain. Children facing these realities struggle to find another way, often with little reward. Child abuse is rampant because girls are, for these people, exploitable objects of baby-making meat. The boys? Cannon fodder.

Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the United States, circa 2016.

This culture had bred a toxic breed of citizens who hide their ugliness beneath the grift-mask of “freedom and prosperity for citizens of all types and colors!!” These elements exploit and offend, all the while touting their right to leave a trail of broken minds and bodies behind them.

That also includes minds and souls of living, loving people who The Privileged have deemed “slaves.” (For want of a better word.) These people are useful and better, they’re had to kill. Handy tools for the privileged, comfortable in their hallowed halls.

Sound familiar? Still the United States, circa 2016.

So, please allow me to introduce Jenna Markkus, a cute commodity for her family and her body’s the tool her caretakers use for their benefit. Sylvie is her sister, invisible because she’s not useful. I also introduce you to Derrick Vittalar, scion of a powerful family but who wants to be something more than an object for his world to look at from a far.  And Jago Dellish, something more than what he’s born into.

In Balance we watch how these four come together and forge a fellowship to defeat the evil that has taken over their culture. Four individuals but by the end of the story—three books in total—two couples emerge to set in place the society that was once envisioned by the Founding Fathers. A large, sweeping cycle and multiple Hero’s Journeys. Some characters rise to the task and some fail and fall into the pits of their own greed.

I confess that I had no idea the path I put my feet to when I set out to tell my story, and it has amazed me with every unfolding. I can only hope that I do it justice because I firmly believe these things need to be said. Especially when I look outside my window and see both the struggling no-longer-middle class and poison spat by certain presidential candidates.

My hope is that my country can find a way out of this mess. As many have said before me: “Our poets are crying for a change!”

Dear readers, should you ever spend a moment examining the Korrlonian myth cycle I’ve crafted, I hope you will find it an interesting journey. (The manuscript is in revisions. I’ll get it back out asap.)




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