When we think of space operas—melodramatic adventures full of interplanetary battles with a little romance thrown in—we tend to think of sweeping franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek. While there have been some space opera books (consider everything by Iain M. Banks, books by Robert Heinlein and Dave Simmons, and the countless Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica book adaptations), we wondered what would happen if we could see some of our favorite space opera movies turned into books.
[Movie still from Galaxy Quest, DreamWorks]
Can you imagine how meta this could be? In the movie, which is about a group of actors from a space opera TV show who have to actually play their parts for real when an alien race need their help, the actors and aliens often talk about the TV show. So if the book pretended the movie was part of the universe and therefore real, the characters in the book could ask, “Have you seen the movie that was based on the TV show?” and just be a story within a story within a story. By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, this could be hella fun.
[Movie still from The Fifth Element, Columbia Pictures]
The Fifth Element
If you don’t think that Ruby Rhod (played the hilarious Chris Tucker) would make an epic book character, you probably haven’t seen the film. He’s larger than life, completely ridiculous, and delightful. But in addition to Rhod, The Fifth Element has got it all: a sweet love story, an epic battle to save the world, evil aliens, good aliens, humor, and top of his career Bruce Willis.
[Movie still from Jupiter Ascending, Warner Bros.]
If you’ve seen this one, you probably know it’s a bit of a mess. Maybe more than a bit. We’ll give it to the movie though: it’s got great visuals, very pretty costumes, and some great explosions, but the plot, actual dialogue, and pacing are a bit hectic. We think with a good writer and a great editor, this could be an over-the-top, gorgeous masterpiece. Plus, if we don’t have to see Eddie Redmayne and Channing Tatum’s terrible acting, all the better.
[TV still from Babylon 5, Warner Bros. Television]
Babylon 5 is set on a space station in the year 2258, where the workers there are tasked with maintaining peace in the galaxy. It explores themes like war and diversity through a science fiction lens, and we think that could be a great addition to the YA world right now.
[TV still from Farscape, Jim Henson Television]
A bit like Doctor Who, Farscape is about John Crichton, who gets flung through space with the help of a handy wormhole, and lands on a world filled with all kinds of alien races in the middle of a war. We think this would make a great book because it’s not the humans that are the dominant species, but the aliens. How cool would that be in book form? We’re imagining a glossary of alien languages, fantastic descriptions, and a bit of poking fun at humanity.
[TV still from Firefly, 20th Century Fox Television]
Despite the fact that this show was cancelled way before it should have been, Firefly is the perfect addition to this list. A mash-up of the wild west and sci-fi (WILD WEST + SCI-FI!), this is the definition of a space opera. With multiple planets, danger, humor, Nathan Fillion as our scruffy hero, this one would transition nicely into book format. It’s already been a comic book. Maybe we could convince Joss Whedon to write the book of our dreams?