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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Self Publishing By Eve Garner

Is Self-Publishing Opening the Door to a Space Opera Renaissance?
When e-readers first hit the shelves in the early 2000s, many book lovers predicted the end of printed books and saw this emerging technology as a threat. But now, a good few years later, we can see that both digital and print books have a place in the market. We all have our favorite Kindle books, and fans of the pulp genre are particularly spoiled by the fact that digital publishing is so accessible for all. In fact, if you look at the most popular titles on various Amazon charts, you’ll notice that self-publishing is becoming a huge chunk of books sold. And with that, new (and old) genres are emerging to become real favorites. Take the space opera for example – in the 70s and 80s, the genre was big business, but these days it seems to have died down somewhat. But could self-publishing be opening the door to a renaissance for this oft-neglected genre? Let’s find out.
The early days of the space opera
So where did this most prestigious of science fiction sub-genres begin? Well, without going into too much detail and writing a tome on the topic, there were a number of authors in the late 1800s who did write on the topic of space; however few refer to these as true space operas. Examples include Star ou Psi de CassiopĂ©e, written by French author C. I. Defontenay in 1854. There is some division, therefore, on which title truly is the first space opera. Some believe it to be The Struggle for Empire: A Story of the Year 2236 by Robert William Cole in 1900. It wasn’t until around the late 1920s that space operas began to appear as part of pulp magazines.  In fact, in the August/October 1928 issue of Amazing Stories, a story called The Skylark of Space E. E. Smith was published. This is a tale of planetary exploration, romance, and all the other elements that make up a ‘true’ space opera. Many refer to Skylark as the first genuine example of a literary space opera.
The modern space opera
So now we know where it all began, what has become of this sub-genre? Well, it seems to have slipped into somewhat of a niche. Authors such as Ian M Banks (and his famous Culture series), Alastair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton are all well-known proponents of the space opera genre. One of the hallmarks of a space opera is its tendency to span multiple books. Because these stories are so huge and expansive, it’s often necessary to do this – and it helps add to the grand scale of the worlds these authors are creating in their works. Despite so many authors working to add to the genre, it is certainly a niche offering, with only a handful of writers doing this work (as opposed to crime or other genres which have thousands of ‘big name’ authors).
The role of self-publishing
It’s never been easier to become a paid writer through Amazon’s marketplace, all thanks to the low barrier to entry set by the company. Anyone can throw their work up on the site to be purchased by others. With this open door policy comes the potential for sub-genres such as space opera to come back into favor – not through the preference of a publisher, but by people voting with their wallets. Just look at the science fiction charts for Kindle and you’ll see many examples of new space operas. One great example is the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. It may not be self-published, but it’s a breakout hit for the genre and a proponent of digital sci-fi.
Do you have what it takes?
If you think you could add to this new renaissance and interest in space opera, there are lots of ways that you can hone your craft and become the next big sci-fi writer. But before you write anything down, be sure your skills are up to scratch – there’s nothing worse than a digital book full of typos and grammatical issues. One idea is to become a freelance writer to really sharpen your skills. By writing for a content service like, you can fill your days writing about a range of different topics – and really give your writing a shot in the arm. The life of a writer is not for everyone, of course, but if you find yourself tapping away at the keyboard like it’s some kind of compulsion, getting involved in becoming a paid writer is a fantastic thing to do.
Who knows? You may well be the tip of the spear when it comes to the reinvention of the space opera. By joining the many fresh authors who are self-publishing to the Kindle store, you can help drive forward a movement that puts the power in the hands of the people, not the publishers. So isn’t it time you did some brainstorming? That space opera won’t write itself!


  1. It would be nice to see a space opera rennisance. Good lord, we are already 50 years into the pulp revivals, the original pulp run didn't even last 25 years.

  2. Very true Tim. Amazing Stories is now electronic, and of course, we have Planetary Stories in electronic format. My WORLDS OF TOMORROW is a short story collection of space opera, so it's still out there.