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As our referenced quote states in SFMZ's Sci-Fi Subgenres A to Z feature, Space Opera Sci-Fi is a huge descriptive category and also labeled as Adventure Sci-Fi. The subgenre features swashbuckling action, set in a vast panorama.

Films in this sub-genre are also often labeled as Fantasy Sci-Fi. Space opera often involves good guys shooting it up with bad guys in the depths of space or on a distant planet. There is little or no attention given to scientific plausibilities and technical explanations tend to be vague.

Most space operas conveniently violate the known laws of physics by positing some form of faster-than-light travel. This is generally accepted for this subgenre as long as there's some form of human element and good overcoming evil morality.

Many space operas diverge even more from known physical reality, and commonly invoke paranormal forces, or vast powers capable of destroying whole planets, stars, or galaxies. Stories emphasize over-sized, often somewhat tongue-in-cheek adventures in space featuring swashbuckling heroes, beautiful women, and exotic aliens.

Some stories are filled with vast intergalactic fleets battling bravely against a backdrop of stars. The planets usually have earth-like atmospheres and exotic life forms including aliens that usually speak English, sometimes with an accent.

There are countless examples including the Flash Gordon serials and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. But all of the descriptions above could read as a synopsis for George Lucas' Star Wars franchise, who was influenced by the previously mentioned Flash Gordon.


Latest Space Opera Topics:

Star Wars Franchise
- 1977 to 2005

Star Trek Franchise
- 1979 to 2013

The Last Starfighter - 1984

Dune - 1984, 2000

Stargate - 1994, 1997

The Fifth Element - 1997

Farscape - 1999 to 2003

Battlestar Galactica - 2004

The Chronicles of Riddick - 2004

The Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy - 2005

Avatar - 2009

John Carter - 2012

Jupiter Ascending - 2015

Brief Highlights on other Space Opera Sci-Fi

Doctor Who
1963–1989, 1996 TV film, 2005–present

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC from 1963 to the present day. The programme depicts the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his TARDIS, a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired.

Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs. The show is a significant part of British popular culture, and elsewhere it has become a cult television favourite. The show has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989.

After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a backdoor pilot in the form of a television film, the programme was relaunched in 2005 by Russell T Davies who was showrunner and head writer for the first five years of its revival, produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. The first series of the 21st century, featuring Christopher Eccleston in the title role, was produced by the BBC. Series two and three had some development money contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was credited as a co-producer.

Blake's 7 - 1978 to 1981

Blake's 7 is a science fiction television series that was created by Terry Nation and produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Four series (each consisting of thirteen 50-minute episodes) were made and first broadcast in the United Kingdom between January 1978 and December 1981 on BBC 1. The programme is set in the third century of the second calendar, and at least 700 years in the future. Blake's 7's narrative follows the exploits of political dissident Roj Blake, who leads a small group of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation, which rules the Earth and many colonised planets.

The Federation uses mass surveillance, brainwashing and drug pacification to control its citizens. Blake discovers he was once the leader of a revolutionary group and is arrested, tried on false charges, and deported to a remote penal colony. En route he and fellow prisoners Jenna Stannis and Kerr Avon gain control of a technologically advanced alien spacecraft, which they name Liberator.

Babylon 5 - 1993 to 1998

At the beginning of the series, five dominant civilizations are represented. The dominant species are the Humans, Minbari, Narn, Centauri, and the Vorlons. "The Shadows" and their various allies are malevolent species who appear later in the series. Several dozen less powerful species from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds appear, including the Drazi, Brakiri, Vree, Markab, and pak'ma'ra. The station's first three predecessors (the original Babylon station, Babylon 2 and Babylon 3) were sabotaged or accidentally destroyed before their completion.

The television series takes its name from the Babylon 5 space station, located in the Epsilon Eridani star system, at the fifth Lagrangian point between the fictional planet Epsilon III and its moon. Babylon 5 is an O'Neill cylinder five miles long and a half-mile to a mile in diameter. Living areas accommodate the various alien species, providing differing atmospheres and gravities. Human visitors to the alien sectors are shown using breathing equipment and other measures to tolerate the conditions.

The five seasons of the series each correspond to one fictional sequential year in the period 2258–2262. Each season shares its name with an episode that is central to that season's plot. Earth has just barely survived an accidental war with the much more powerful Minbari, who, despite their superior technology, mysteriously surrendered at the brink of the destruction of the human race during the Battle of the Line.

Lexx - 1997 to 2002

The main characters of the series are the Lexx and her crew. The crew consists of the captain of the Lexx, Stanley H. Tweedle, the love slave Zev/Xev, the undead former assassin Kai, last of the Brunnen-G, and the love-crazed robot head 790. Together they are looking for a new home. The background conflict of the series is the war between Mankind and the Insect Civilization, in which each side seeks the annihilation of the other.

It was foretold to Kai that one day he will destroy the last remnant of the Insect Civilization. The plot unfolds across a time span of over 6,000 years. Kai's death (or undeath) occurs 2,008 years before the beginning of the events of the series. For the first two seasons, each episode is focused on space travel and usually one different planet. Each of the last two seasons has a single location for all episodes. At the beginning of Season 3 the crew spends about 4,000 years in cryostasis. In Season 4, the Lexx reaches our Earth in the present.

The Lexx is a bio-engineered planet-destroying bioship in the shape of a giant wingless dragonfly. It was grown by ingesting organ collections from the protein bank on the Cluster, the seat of the Divine Order, for use by His Divine Shadow. The Lexx was originally intended as the ultimate deterrent: the threat of a weapon that could instantly obliterate any planet would keep the remaining "Heretic" worlds of the Light Universe in line.


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Star Wars

Star Trek

The Last Starfighter



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