The Greatest Space-Fantasy of All Time!

Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’m now in my 40s.

Part of it is reminiscences like James Maliszewski’s recent run of entries on his blog, “Grognardia” (start from that date, and go forward from there, he’s done a few), or the always-excellent Space:1970 blog.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the stuff that I *lived for* from roughly Age 8 until my teenage years (when things like music and girls distracted me).

The fire was lit, certainly, by Star Trek re-runs in the early-to-mid 70s. But, like most geeks of my age, the conflagration took off in 1977, with Star Wars, and nothing after that was ever the same.

So yeah — I’ve been thinking a lot about that time, especially the years from 1977 through 1980 — when the first film was all that there was, when the horizon was endless, and the galaxy hadn’t been defined down to the last name and backstory given to every minor walk-on in a scene. Thinking about my imaginative diet at the time — the thing that consumed me, from reading to watching to drawing to playing.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m not really a Science Fiction fan.

I’m a fan of SPACE FANTASY.

That actually used to be a branding description for Star Wars — the Marvel comics used to occasionally have a bannerhead that proclaimed “The Greatest Space-Fantasy of All Time!” That terminology eventually faded from view, of course, as Lucas retroactively tried to convince us all that what he was *really* doing all along was a Campbellian Hero-Myth Exploration. Very Serious, you see. Not just a tribute to the far-flung Flash Gordon serials of his youth, when he couldn’t get the License from King Features. No sir.

I love Space Fantasy. I want giant space-cruisers. I want soaring spacefighters wheeling and roaring unscientifically. I want jungle-planets, desert-planets, ice-planets. I want floating cities. I want knights and knaves and princesses and kings and queens and wizards and monsters… But I want them with lasers.

I want GRAND EPIC HEROISM AND SCALE, not speculation on possibility.

So, dear reader — feed the monkey on my back. I’ve got plenty of filmed entertainment to choose from, but what I’m lacking is stuff to read. What are some of your favorite Space Fantasies?

7 Replies to “The Greatest Space-Fantasy of All Time!”

  1. As a fellow fan of widescreen baroque space fantasy, I’m interested to see what titles people throw out there.

    Would you count Dan Simmons’ Hyperion? I only read the first book of the series, but I loved it a whole lot.

  2. Ugh, just wrote a whole thing and got a “time out” message. Grr.

    Short version: 1949 “The Star Kings” by Edmond Hamilton (husband of Leigh Brackett). Reprinted in ’69 and ’70, wasn’t too hard to track down (may even be PD in electronic). Seriously epic space adventure. Good description here:

  3. Hello. I’m here via Chuck Wendig. I’m not a big space-fantasy reader, but one writer grabbed hold of my imagination and hasn’t let go. Karin Lowachee’s Warchild series has a strong focus on characters, but she has also built an interesting universe populated by space pirates, aliens, humans, governments, spaceships, and lasers.

  4. I’m going to be running a Space-Fantasy tabletop RPG campaign with modded Feng Shui rules. I can post episodes every 2 weeks if you like…

    If reading my stuff doesn’t slake your thirst, I’d recommend Ender’s Game or The Vorkosigan Saga.

  5. If you can find them (maybe in a used bookstore) check out the Mageworlds series by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald. You can still see a couple of rough spots where they filed off the serial numbers but they are a lot of fun.

    Simon Greene’s Deathstalker books might be worth a look. Its Simon Greene so you will get a huge pile of awesome ideas combined with all of his, ah, writing quirks. But they are pure pulpy sci-fantasy with rebellions, weird psychic powers, bizarre characters, space battles, etc.

  6. I’d recommend House of Suns, by Alastair Reynolds. Reynolds has a bit of a rep for writing hard SF, but I think both he and I agree that particular label is probably misapplied (he was, prior to writing SF, a space scientist, thus everything he writes apparently must be hard SF). About a fortnight ago I heard him say of House of Suns that he tried to throw in every bit of wacky SF scenery he could think of — force shields and stasis fields and killer robots and all that malarkey. Fun book.

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