Is Star Trek a Space Opera? The Star Trek franchise consists of seven television series, thirteen films [Note 1], and extensive comics, games, reference materials, and reference works. Space Opera is a form of science fiction that focuses on space warfare, adventure, romance, and interplanetary battles. Does Star Trek fit into this science fiction subgenre?
Most people know opera as a form of music, but the term opera comes from the Latin word for opus, a literary work or a composition of work, not just musical compositions. And so instead of being a musical number, a space opera is a composition of work, similar to that of a soap opera [Note 2], presented in serial fashion featuring the lives of the characters and their trials and tribulations. Like a planetary romance [Note 3], space operas feature exotic settings, exploring strange new worlds.
Does Star Trek fit into this? Well, maybe - I certainly think so. Star Trek is filled with space warfare, adventure, romance, and great battles; the stories are filled with allegory and meaning. But The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager tended to be far more episodic than Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, or Discovery. The latter three series focused more on story arcs and character development as a focus for storytelling instead of being a vehicle to tell the story. The movies also tended to be more episodic in general, except for what can be called “The Star Trek Trilogy,” being The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home [Note 4]. As a whole, it may not be considered as much of an opera as Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, or Star Wars, as they each have major serial story archs, but I would say that Star Trek is still a Space Opera.
I would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to leave a comment!
- Apparently, there is a Star Trek XIV in the works.
- According to Wikipedia, the term “‘space opera” is a play on the term “soap opera.”
- Planetary romances are similar to space operas, except that the romances focus more on exotic alien or futuristic cultures and societies, generally staying on the planet and not getting into travel.
- It’s called “The Star Trek Trilogy” by some because these three films are one big story arch - they pick up immediately where the previous one ended. Every so often, it is possible to find a version where all three films are edited into one 6-hour film. The Final Frontier picks up where The Voyage Home left off, but it is not considered to be a part of the trilogy.
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