Best modern "space opera" type science fiction titles?

I’m an unashamed fan of Niven and Asimov and other similar “big universe” science fiction authors where the stores are wide ranging and adventure oriented vs more metaphysical or cyber punk “living in the network” type stories. Nothing wrong with them just not my preference.

What’s good in these categories that’s been published in the last 10 years or so?

The Expanse series by James SA Corey. Is excellent. It’s a pen name for two of JRR Martens researchers. Good characters and action but thoughtful.

I’m very, very fond of Jack McDevitt’s linked novels. They’re sufficiently independent, you can read them in just about any order. Best one to start with, though, is “The Engines of God.” If you like this one, you’ll like everything of his.

His novel “Omega” is one of the two best “first contact” novels ever written (IMO.) (The other is Vernor Vinge’s “A Deepness in the Sky.”) But don’t read “Omega” until you’ve read “The Engines of God,” because that book sets up the universe.

Also, I’ve met him at SF conventions, and he’s one of the nicest guys in the world. (Vinge is another!)

Peter F Hamilton might be up your alley. The Dreaming Void trilogy is very good and he’s got a bunch of other great stuff.

Peter F. Hamilton is very good.


Does it get better? I’m about 30 pages in and finding it to be a pretty dull slog thus far.

I second Corey and Hamilton. Great universe builders, those guys.

I look forward to seeing more suggestions in this thread.

Brin’s Uplift saga is pretty good. But by the end, when the story is spanning a few centuries, it started straining my suspension of disbelief a bit: There’s no way anyone could hold out against such vastly superior science for that long.

The Expanse is the best straight-up space opera I’ve read in many years. If you like this sort of thing, it’s going to be high-grade candy for you. Check it out.

In the past month, I’ve read two excellent books by Becky Chambers, both in the same universe. It’s a very Star Trek universe, with a Galactic Commons made up of various species who have figured out how to get along, and the action of the first book takes place on a small, vaguely Firefly-esque ship, where a crew about half human and half alien go on a picaresque journey. The book is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, and I highly recommend it: it’s funny and smart.

Oh! Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice series is fantastic, although it may be a little too metaphysical for your tastes. The protagonist is a battlecruiser in human form, every human is referred to as “she” regardless of their sex because nobody in the future pays attention to gender, folks distribute their intelligence over multiple bodies in order to improve efficiency, and other weirdness. It’s definitely operatic in feel, though, and well worth reading.


Sorry. It just lurched out of me.

I loved Walter Jon Williams’ Dread Empire’s Fall. Here’s a very positive review (with a bit of a summary but nothing too spoilerish):

Another vote for Peter Hamilton and James S.A. Corey. Also, Iain M. Banks “Culture” series, if it qualifies as space opera.

I think The Vorkosigan Saga qualifies, as the most recent book in the series was published in the last ten years. Lois McMaster Bujold is mind-blowingly good at creating compelling, realistic characters. For me, she redefined what science fiction could be. I’d put her down as one of my favorite authors.

I came to mention those. They’re very much stories in the classic space-opera mode, with battle scenes and daring rescues and interstellar intrigue, with Lord So-and-So swearing fealty to the Emperor and then flying off in his mercenary starship fleet, and yet they never feel old-fashioned.

But as somebody pointed out in a past thread, it’s no longer possible to regard Brin as a new author. His work is now classic science fiction. Sundiver was published thirty-seven years ago and Heaven’s Reach, the most recent uplift book, was published nineteen years ago.

Posting yet again to say “me too” on positive comments regarding Ancillary Justice and the Vorkosiverse as Space Opera.

I’ll try to come up with something original soon, though.

Whoa, Brin has been around for that long?

I guess my standard of “modern” is calibrated against Asimov and Heinlein.

You wouldn’t know that it’s space opera from the premise or the first chapter, but… The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach ends up being just that, and an utterly unique read.