Over the years, the interplanetary romance, pejoratively referred to as “space opera,” has been disparaged as a science-fiction subgenre and described as the province of people writing hard-driving adventure stories without much regard for characterization or neatly tailored plots. Colin Greenland did much to encourage a reappraisal of this much-maligned form with Take Back Plenty, demonstrating that it was entirely possible to produce literate, even intellectual, space opera. It came as no surprise to anyone that Take Back Plenty won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Science Fiction Award.
Greenland’s success with the form comes from his knowledge of its antecedents. He plays fast and loose with the gimmickry of science fiction, subverting it to his own needs to produce a witty and fast-paced plot, packed with references for those in the know, without ever detracting from the story for those as yet unfamiliar with the form. Thus, he includes...
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