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Saga Star Wars: "Space Opera" or Simply Sci Fi at its Best?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by CT1138, Sep 12, 2013.

?

What does Star Wars identify most closely as?

  1. Space opera

    27 vote(s)
    93.1%
  2. Science fiction

    3 vote(s)
    10.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. CT1138

    CT1138 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Okay, I have a question. To me, Star Wars has always embodied the quintessential science fiction movie: robots, space battles, laser swords, ray guns, blasters, aliens, the list goes on. But, many Star Wars fans say it is a "space opera", which I don't really get. What is a space opera, and what makes it different from conventional science fiction like Star Trek? And what qualities does Star Wars display that makes it a space opera and not simply one of the greatest science fiction franchises ever created?
     
  2. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2009
    With science fiction, science usually plays an essential role in the plot (e.g: I, Robot, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, etc...).

    Star Wars, on the other hand, is fantasy. The only real difference from other fantasy works is that it's set in space.
     
  3. Normal_Nerds

    Normal_Nerds Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2013
    That's exactly what I was going to say.
     
  4. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Agreed. 'Space opera' is a bit of glib term that's become popular.

    Dubbing SW as 'Space Opera' is much the same as the way the Godfather saga or Gone With the Wind are often described as 'soap opera' - epic storylines with very basic narratives stretched to their utmost limits (as if the writing was on the same level as a very simple TV drama). It's just a cheap way for critics to dismiss basic storytelling done on a large scale that they might consider too mainstream for their own delicate, sophisticated minds.
    If it's actual rubbish, the critics will call it rubbish, but every so often they'll be faced with something magnificently done with a very basic sensibility, in which case, they'll find a way to trash it - just so everyone knows they're too clever to be sucked in by such fodder.

    The real question is whether Star Wars is fantasy or sci-fi.

    In which case I'd say SW is fantasy. Science fiction is driven by specific concepts (e.g. artificial intelligence, space exploration), while the fantasy genre is focused more upon story arcs and characters - and can occur anywhere or anytime. The 'fantastic' element frees the author from scientific or historical constraints.
    The story at the heart of Star Wars could be easily rewritten to be set in ancient Rome, medieval Japan, the Wild West or the trenches of World War I - however, GL chose to set it in a galaxy far, far away. The fact that much of the story involves space travel, laser guns and aliens is purely incidental.

    Something like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Westworld, Star Trek, even the original novel of Frankenstein - sci-fi. The entire storylines are based around concepts, and couldn't exist without them.
     
  5. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2009
    [​IMG]

    Typical fantasy premiss.
     
  6. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

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    Jan 3, 2013
    Darth_Nub, I'm not sure where you're getting this view of "space opera" as a pejorative from. In my experience, it simply describes a particular sub-genre of science fiction that has some overlap with "space fantasy". I'm a self-professed "space opera fan", in fact.

    I do agree this isn't really a relevant distinction to be arguing in the case of Star Wars.
     
    CaptainHamYoyo likes this.
  7. Frank T.

    Frank T. Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I don't think "opera" is a dismissive word. It doesn't matter what critics think.

    Space opera, space fantasy or fantasy are all fair ways to describe Star Wars. Science fiction should be speculative or alternate reality fiction that observes the rules of science. Star Wars has no regard for science.
     
  8. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2009
    'Space opera' seems to have been a somewhat dismissive term when it was first coined (being derived more from 'soap opera' than opera itself), but has since caught on. The fans took it for themselves.
    I wouldn't really describe it as an actual genre, though, more a general description.

    I'm half inclined to change the poll (and the thread title) if Dinos4Ever has no objection.
     
    Vthuil likes this.
  9. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    I think it's a sub-genre of science fiction in the same way that, say, cyberpunk is.
     
    Darth_Nub likes this.
  10. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Yeah, that sounds about right.
     
  11. Darth Eddie

    Darth Eddie Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 14, 2013
    Star Wars is a serialized epic fantasy romantic suspense thriller motion picture, containing elements of opera, lietmotif, bildungsroman, and magical realism.

    Oh yeah, and it takes place in space.
     
    Ord-Mantell70 and Mystery_Roach like this.
  12. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Science fiction usually has some kind of basis in real life, whereas most of the technology in Star Wars cannot be explained in real life (lightsabers), nor can something like the Force. Star Wars intentionally set itself far apart from our world in order to tell its story.
     
  13. bstnsx704

    bstnsx704 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Star Wars is history, politics, religion, mythology, and fantasy dressed up so as to look like science fiction.

    Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them.
     
  14. Loupgarou

    Loupgarou Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jan 19, 2010
    I never thought of Space Opera as negative; it refers to a sweeping story dealing with large concepts on one of the biggest stages of all, Space. It's just a sub-genre and Star Wars is definitely a part of it. It's true that sometimes people will try to act like it makes star wars less smart, as if Techno-babble was the smart part of other science fiction stories. But it really has nothing to do with quality, just with priorities. Star Wars is about a battle between Good and Evil before it's about the technology that plays a role in that battle.
     
  15. TX-20

    TX-20 Jedi Master star 4

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    Jun 21, 2013
    Fantasy is how I would classify it.
     
  16. Ord-Mantell70

    Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Master star 3

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    Mar 9, 2009
    Science-fiction often deals with the future of Mankind, is of course set in the future, and plays a great deal on the technological evolution : artificial intelligence, robots, spaceships, space travels etc...

    That's why, to me, Star Wars is a lot more fantasy or space opera than science-fiction actually. Even if some of the traditional Sci-Fi elements are there (spaceships, ray guns, cyborg, technologically advanced background). It takes place "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away" and it's far from an anticipation on the future of humanity, even if antticipation doesn't necessarily means "science" fiction (Mad Max, post apocalyptic movies etc...)

    Unlike THX 1138, which I'd say is real hard science-fiction.

    But it can still remained attached to the general "science-fiction" genre in movies in a way.

    It really depends on how you precisely define science-fiction in the end.
     
  17. Ord-Mantell70

    Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2009
    Hasn't Lucas himself once referred to Star Wars as "the soap-opera of the Skywalker family" ? ;)

    Think it was just before ANH started filming, when he was devising future sequel novels (Splinter of the Mind's eye and the other) with Alan Dean Foster, if I remember well.

    Anyway, to me, there's an undeniable "opera" element in the Star Wars saga, with the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, and the real machiavelian arc of the PT.
     
  18. bstnsx704

    bstnsx704 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 11, 2013

    That's not necessarily the case. Jurassic Park, for example, is set in the then-present 1993 and still deals with many of the important themes and questions that serve as the backbone for science-fiction. Cloning and creating life via artificial means and questioning whether or not humanity has any right meddling with these forces are important concepts in the film.

    "Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
     
  19. Ord-Mantell70

    Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2009
    You're right...

    Let's say it's often set in the future.
     
  20. Garrett Atkins

    Garrett Atkins Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 11, 2013
    I would say it's both.
     
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