Monday, December 3, 2012

What are your rules for Space Opera?

So I've been working on some ideas for Rad Astra, which has been rattling around in my brain since the Thanksgiving holiday, today I saw this post by on the Top Ten Rules of Space Opera. It's a good start for anyone looking to flesh out a story or campaign setting. Take a look with your macrobinoculars:
  1. Have a giant object in space.
  2. Set the action in motion by plunging us into the middle of an extremely complicated astropolitical regime change.
  3. A scrappy group of humans should be part of a rebellion that's hidden on a cool-looking moon or tricked-out asteroid.
  4. There must be an enormous mothership (which must be referred to as a mothership or maybe a base ship), and it must be attacked by a bunch of tiny fighter ships.
  5. Always fill your spaceships and intergalactic ports with random background aliens and weird-faced creatures.
  6. Your heroes should always revisit the sites of old battles, the locations of terrible accidents, and the regions of space where their people were wiped from the face of the universe. But only if they don't want to.
  7. If there is a male bad guy, he should have a ripped body or amazing weapons. If there is a female bad guy, she should have a high, sparkly collar or a sidekick named something like Tigerman.
  8. There should be at least three types of weapon and three types of spaceship, each of which will be given a name that is used repeatedly.
  9. There should be a captain. If there is not a captain, there should be a special agent. If there is not a special agent, there should be a cadet with a future. If there is no cadet with a future, there should be a mercenary with a dark past.
  10. Somebody wise should predict something, but nobody will pay attention or be able to understand the prediction.
Compare their list with sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss' own tounge-planted-firmly-in-cheek (if oft non-specific) version:
  1. Style and Mood staunchly traditional
  2. Hitherto unknown places to explore
  3. Continuity between Past and Future
  4. Tremendous sphere of space/time
  5. A pinch of reality inflated with melodrama
  6. A seasoning of screwy ideas
  7. Heady escapist stuff
  8. Charging on with little regard for logic or literacy
  9. Often throwing off great images, excitements, aspirations
  10. The Earth should be in peril
  11. There must be a quest
  12. There must be a man to match the mighty hour
  13. That man must confront aliens and exotic creatures
  14. Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher
  15. Blood must run down the palace steps
  16. Ships must launch out into the louring dark
  17. There must be a woman fairer than the skies
  18. There must be a villain darker than a Black Hole
  19. All must come right in the end
  20. The future in space, seen mistily through the eyes of yesterday
Had me wondering what might they have missed? What would you add or emphasize?

1 comment:

  1. The economic situation between hundreds of far-flung worlds should be a cross between the 16th and 19th centuries, however illogical that would actually be.