Is Space-Opera Really Fantasy?

Are we being buried in space-opera?  Space-opera has long been considered science fiction but is it really? In case you haven’t noticed, there is a ton of so-called military sf out there and more being published every day.  Some of it is pretty good, such as the Vorkosigan series by Bujold or even the Honor Harrington series by David Weber.  Much of it, however, if it is readable at all, it is of the read it once category.  We know nowadays that, regardless of whether warp drive is invented, it’s become abundantly clear we don’t live in a universe where star kingdoms and space pirates will ever be a thing and where vast fleets of ships-of-the-line blasting away at each other with 18 inch lasers and hyperspace missiles just are not going to happen.  Like Star Wars and Star Trek, these are not speculative futures, these are fantasies–just with spaceships instead of sailing ships, and light sabers in place of swords.  This just raises another question: How much “real” science fiction is being published?  Real science fiction is hard these days.  Real science fiction has to take every area of human endeavor and figure out what the effects of advancement are going to be, or it must explain why there has not been enough progress to be believable.  Consider Star Trek, we watch them travel between stars in days, beam themselves about, even move planets.  Yet they don’t seem to have any form of life extension worthy of the name.  At the very least, all red shirts should be robots with their brains backed up before they beam down.

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