'Starships and space Opera (1928 - Present)'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Interstellar and even intergalactic spacecraft have been a prominent aspect of Science Fiction since its earliest days. Yet starships in Science Fiction do more than simply link planetary systems or stellar clusters, they ply richly imagined routes between subgenres and even across the barriers between mediums. From stories inspired by historical and contemporary naval adventures to those grounded in astrophysical accuracy, from fiction to television to comicbooks to videogames, from widescreen Space Opera to nuanced character studies, starships are instruments of peace and of war, of exploration and of commerce (both legal and otherwise), and, ultimately, vessels for human stories. More than that, however, starships are vehicles for Science Fiction’s own transformative journey over the last century and a half; they are propelled less by antimatter or improbability than by the unstoppable engine of our imaginations. This chapter surveys the major depictions of starships, their place in genre history, and offers readers a categorization of starships and the kind of stories which can be told with them. It will demonstrate how starship stories offer readers many routes into and through Science Fiction, how the trope’s appearance in popular culture responds to both changing scientific knowledge and evolving social contexts, and, ultimately, how the starship epitomises Science Fiction’s cultural value as the literature of ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSci-Fi: A Companion
EditorsJack Fennell
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-1-78874-349-5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameGenre Fiction and Film Companions
PublisherPeter Lang


  • Science Fiction
  • Starships
  • Literary History
  • Genre History


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