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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest blogger: SF novelist Bryan Thomas Schmidt

I'm very happy to welcome today's guest, science fiction author Bryan Thomas Schmidt. He categorizes his new novel, The Worker Prince, as a space opera, so I asked him to discuss what that means.

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Thanks to Anne for the opportunity to guest post today. My debut novel, The Worker Prince, came out last month. A space opera, like Star Wars, it retells the Moses story with a unique setting amongst colonists from Earth who settled the stars. It departs quite a bit from some aspects of the biblical story. In part, this came from a desire to keep it surprising and original. And in part, it resulted from the nature of the space opera setting.

According to Wikipedia: “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.” Star Wars, Star Trek, Farscape, Babylon Five, these are all space operas you might be familiar with. Filled with larger than life characters, space ships, flying craft of all sorts, laser guns, space battles and lots of action in a battle between good and evil, The Worker Prince frequently evokes memories of Golden Age science fiction stories amongst readers. The similarity is deliberate.

When I set out to write the story, I’d had it in mind for twenty-five years. I wanted to capture the sense of hope, wonder and fun of the stories which had delighted me as a youth and first made me fall in love with science fiction. Given our dark times, I also wanted to write something hopeful and encouraging with a  happy ending and good triumphing over evil. So much of the nihilism of our times leaks into our storytelling, and yet, I still believe there’s hope; that one person can make a difference by doing what’s right. So I wanted to tell a story which echoes those beliefs.

When writing a genre like space opera, there are tropes one must reckon with. Readers who are fans of the genre, expect certain things. I mentioned several above: laser guns, space ships, flying craft. My story also has robots, high tech computers, and planets far away. The solar system I created has twin suns and thirteen planets. It’s both similar and different from our system in many ways, with humans only one of many species inhabiting the worlds.  I also have a romantic subplot, themes of family, political scheming, and themes of ideological differences.

While the story is intended primarily to entertain, the theme of bigotry is a big part of it. That came naturally from the Moses story itself but also was drawn from present times where we see people of opposing views so often in conflict and fighting with each other. Space opera and science fiction are great mediums to examine contemporary themes through a distant, fresh lens. And certainly as writers, we tend to work in things we are passionate about. Our characters often reflect our beliefs and values and speak into situations we have opinions about. The advantage of doing this from a setting different and distant from our own is it enables readers to distance themselves in ways that allow fresh perspective. And space opera being full of action and high entertainment value, the stories deliver any messages lightly without hitting readers over the heads.

My goal above all, as with any good space opera, is to provide readers with an escape and entertainment to take them away from the worries of their world. I’m told The Worker Prince delivers that in spades, which is gratifying to hear because we all need an escape these days. I’m happy the adventures of Davi Rhii and his friends can provide that for many.

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.
THE WORKER PRINCE is available for Kindle and Nook , or in paperback.

5 comments:

  1. Nice post! I will definitely have to check out more in the Space Opera genre. It was amazing (and encouraging) to hear that you had the idea in mind for 20+ years and got it on paper! You must be so proud. Way to go. An inspiration for us all.

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  2. I love this post. I'd never heard the term space opera, so was glad to learn about it. And I always enjoy hearing about what inspires authors to write particular stories. The added bonus here is that this book sounds perfect for my daughter. Yes! I finally have something to get her for Christmas ;)

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  3. Thanks, ladies. To inluv, there are several strong female characters in the book as well. Your daughter will likely enjoy that even more.

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  4. Wow, I learned a lot. What an interesting spin you put on a biblical story! Best of luck to you, Bryan.

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  5. That is really cool. I've never heard of Space Opera, but it sounds like a really neat kind of genre.

    And after twenty years of thinking about that story, how exciting to finally get it on paper and in print. Also, that you took it from a biblical story is amazingly imaginative. Congratulations!

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