Space Opera is a term coined by fan writer Wilson Tucker in the fanzine Le Zombie in 1941. Although the term was initially used as an insult, over the time, it has now acquired an established and respected reputation as a sub genre of science fiction. Merriam-Webster, a well-known online dictionary and thesaurus, defines Space Opera as “a futuristic melodramatic fantasy involving space travelers and extraterrestrial beings.”
But this is just one of hundreds of definitions provided by several sources all over the years. Yet the gist of it all sums up the said term as a genre of film, novel, and other forms of literature that usually has a setting directly or indirectly related to the concept of space and is generally of a ‘melodramatic’ nature. So, by a very broad explanation, might we consider that Space Opera may not just be a genre of fiction, but rather a brand or form of reality?
With the current trends of “humans are weird”, “making life possible on Mars”, etc doing rounds, the concept of ‘Space Opera’ takes a new turn. Everything happening around us, the reality we are living has the factors that are similar to the one’s through which space operas are defined. Current times find us obsessing about space life as well as the perception of that life towards us.
The Tumblr trend of “humans are weird”, which has taken over other social media platforms too, boosts of brief excerpts where people talk about the various activities, behavioral patterns and other effects that are normal to humans but would not seem so to “aliens”. This has transformed into such a rage that there are some excerpts which might potentially be movie or novel worthy. This specific trend of an extraterrestrial’s take on human life proves our ongoing fascination with everything related to space.
The mission to Mars, the Hadron Collider, and even the nuclear power are all concepts that were believed to be just theories or fiction in the past. Nonetheless, we find that each of it has been proven true, although the mission to Mars can be taken as still in the development stage. All in all, one can say that ‘Space Opera’ is something that has the potential to become real.
tvtropes adds to the definition by saying that “Technology is ubiquitous and secondary to the story.” When compared, one can observe that in today’s world, technology has inserted itself in every aspect of human life; making it an essential that man can’t work or live without. With smart phones, smart television, AI and the innumerable other techs along the same line, humans are losing their independent streak of working out everything by themselves, instead depending on such devices and programs to help regulate their day to day life.
‘Space Opera’ is also interpreted as an “epic story”, “highly dramatic” and a kind of fiction that doesn’t pay much attention to the minutiae. Doesn’t this ring true with the present political scenario of India. Political parties all over the country are using epics, mythology, and religion to propagate themselves and win votes, while no one is bothering to look closely into any matter, blindly tempting people to give into the unwarranted rage against each other.
All points out the obvious enchantment of today’s society towards things that might seem fantastical with blurred boundaries and a hint of drama that comes along with it. Then in this degree, it wouldn’t be a long shot if we say we occupied a ‘Space Opera’ reality, would it?