I’m honored and excited to welcome J. C. Hay to the Perils of Pauline. He’s here today to talk about “The Lure of Space Opera.” Without further ado, I’ll turn this space over to J.C.
The Lure of Space Opera (Rayguns, Rocketships, and Romance)
by J. C. Hay
Space Opera, with all its love of melodrama , adventure and feats of derring-do, is easily one of my favorite subgenres of science fiction. Something about it inherently appeals to the romantic – against a backdrop of the fantastic, of sweeping acts of heroism, it’s as though we need to see a human side of these often more than human characters. Fortunately, these heroes and heroines have loves as big as the universes they inhabit: Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, Aeryn and Crichton, Han and Leia, Zoe and Wash.
That same to-the-end-of-time, would-do-anything love was what I tried to capture when I sat down to write Hearts and Minds. It quickly became apparent that to do so I needed to create a universe that could serve as a fitting backdrop for such a romance; that meant I needed conflict, and a side that the reader could cheer for. No shades of gray, here. It had to be an evil empire and a band of plucky independents eking out life on the edge of ‘civilized’ space. For me that became the seeds of the conflict that forms the greater story of the setting – the Hegemony, an outwardly benevolent federation of worlds under the nearly-human Tse, became my villain. It had to be bigger than either of my heroes, and their efforts to stand against the Tse had to look suicidal to anyone else in the universe (Indeed, it even looks like suicide to my heroes part of the time.) As scrappy fringe-dwellers, both my heroine and hero have very real reasons to fear the encroaching tide of hegemony, and each has suffered the kinds of loss that fuels a desire for revenge.
For Syna, the Hegemony represents the imposition of law and order that makes her life as a mercenary / pirate difficult, but it’s not just her survival instinct that makes her rail against the Tse. She’s suffered more directly than most at the hands of the Hegemony, and carries the emotional and physical scars of her encounters. In comparison, Galen has only an institutional hatred of the Tse – he and his partner a nobly trying to ensure the fledgling revolution on his home planet and keep the psions like himself safe from the hegemony’s predation.
And that’s the real appeal of Space Opera for me – despite the threat to entire planets, and this galaxy spanning plot, it’s really about how these two characters win each other over. Syna has to let go of her past to find a future with Galen. Galen, on the other hand, has to open himself to accept that he can have a future beyond the mission and make plans for it. The two of them go through a bit of hell together, and come through the other side stronger for it. They’ve got more adventures in the works, with situations that will test their love for each other as well as pit them against enemies both insidious and overt. If Space Opera needs to have big events to fulfill its premise, Space Opera Romance needs to go even bigger, make the stakes that much more serious, because it allows the personal triumph of two people finding and loving each other to be that much sweeter.
About J. C. Hay’s Space Opera:
Hearts and Minds, by J.C. Hay
Syna Davout thought it was supposed to be a simple smash-and-grab job—smash onto a luxury yacht, grab the cash, and split the proceeds with the client. Unfortunately, the client failed to mention that she’s the diversion for an assassination attempt that destroys the yacht and leaves her with a passenger she never expected. A fugitive telepath caught in the middle of a revolution.
Galen Fash thought his days were numbered. The fledgling revolution on his homeworld needs him to buy them time, with his life if necessary. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a pirate captain-for-hire whose larger-than-life emotions draw him like a moth to a flame.
Inexorably, Syna is dragged into a war that isn’t hers, and they both discover—between knock-down-drag-outs—that their whole is far stronger than the sum of their parts. Dodging the enemies that want them both dead will be hard enough. First, they have to survive each other…
Warning: this book contains Space Vikings, gossipy AIs, boxing-as-foreplay, rogue telepaths and a demanding pirate captain who likes to be in charge. The author will not be held responsible for a desire to punch your partner in the jaw, or a sudden awareness of latent psionic ability.
Read an Excerpt
I can’t thank you enough for stopping by today! Love your thoughts on space opera and Hearts and Minds sounds so fun! Can’t wait to read it!
To follow the rest of the tour:
August 18: Lisa Lane at Writer’s Habitat