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Yoon Ha Lee

Fiction and Excerpts [5]
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Fiction and Excerpts [5]

Space Opera and the Emphasis on Big Space Battles

For the longest time, I associated space opera with one thing: big space battles. I may well have gotten that impression before I ever heard the term “space opera.” My parents let me watch the Star Wars movies when I was around kindergarten age (I have a distinct memory of finding the bit with Luke’s hand terrifying, thanks so much, Mom and Dad!). Even later, when I started reading science fiction and fantasy in middle school, book cover illustrations told me that you couldn’t have a space opera without big space battles in them somewhere.

Time passed. I read more space operas: Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald’s Mage Wars series, Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker Saga, Alistair Reynolds’ Revelation Space, Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn series, David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy… This isn’t an attempt at a comprehensive or “best” list, and indeed, some famous examples are missing by virtue of the fact that I have never read them (notably Frank Herbert’s Dune and Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep).

Big space battles continued to be a feature, yes. But I noticed that some space operas had a difference of emphasis when it came to those battles. In some of them the big space battles were foregrounded, just as future tank warfare is foregrounded in David Drake’s The Tank Lords—if you’re not interested in hardcore tank action, you might as well not read that book. (I was very much interested in hardcore tank action.) In others, the big space battles were not the focus—or anyway, not the only focus.

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Series: Space Opera Week

Raven Stratagem

Captain Kel Cheris is possessed by a long-dead traitor general. Together they must face the rivalries of the hexarchate and a potentially devastating invasion.

When the hexarchate’s gifted young captain Kel Cheris summoned the ghost of the long-dead General Shuos Jedao to help her put down a rebellion, she didn’t reckon on his breaking free of centuries of imprisonment – and possessing her.

Even worse, the enemy Hafn are invading, and Jedao takes over General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, which was tasked with stopping them. Only one of Khiruev’s subordinates, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, seems to be able to resist the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

Jedao claims to be interested in defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev or Brezan trust him? For that matter, will the hexarchate’s masters wipe out the entire fleet to destroy the rogue general?

Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem—the sequel to Ninefox Gambit—is available June 13th from Solaris.

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Series: Space Opera Week

Composing Music and Orchestrating A Space Opera

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

When I was a small child, I thought everyone composed music in their heads.

It was obvious. I made up music—albeit not very good music—so it must be something everyone did. I figured they just didn’t talk about it.

I don’t come from a family of musicians. But my dad loved listening to classical music, and as a child I would stand in the living room and let the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake wash over me. If I was very good, sometimes he would let me put on the record myself so I could listen.

When the next-door neighbor’s kid started piano lessons, I visited and plunked on the keys and declared that I, too, wanted to learn the piano. My mom, being an Asian parent, took me at my word and started me on piano lessons the next year. Ironically, I hated those piano lessons! Especially since my mom actually made me practice.

[But now I had an instrument that I could write for.]

A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel

The Conflagration

Among the universe’s civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night. Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies.

The people of a certain red star no longer speak its name in any of their hundreds of languages, although they paint alien skies with its whorled light and scorch its spectral lines into the sides of their vessels.

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