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What happened?

I was never interested in science fiction until I played Mass Effect under the recommendation of a friend. I thought the Battle for the Citadel scene was epic. Now I hunger for a TV show like it. I believe the genre Mass Effect falls under is space opera. What happened to space opera? There used to be a lot of them. Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly. Should this genre be revived? When will we get a high quality space opera that is as popular as shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead?
Absolutely I'd love to see more space-based shows. Given they were so popular in the 1990s it's hard to put a finger on why they largely disappeared. I should caveat this discussion firstly by pointing out that HBO are looking at a series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels being written by Jonathan Nolan (director Chris Nolan's brother). I've also heard that the Sci-Fi channel (or Sy-Fy or whatever it's called these days) are making a mini-series based on Dan Simmons' Hyperion books that Bradley Cooper is going to be in, and they're also making an adaptation of James Corey's Leviathan Awakes books. Notice that they're all based on books, and space opera is alive and kicking in science fiction literature – if you like Mass Effect, B5, Star Trek etc try the novels of Peter F Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, Ann Leckie, Iain Banks, Gary Gibson, the aforementioned James Corey and others for modern space opera.

Still, Foundation and Hyperion are not quite the swashbuckling stories that you might define as space opera. Maybe if The Force Awakens is received well by the critics (compared to the poor response to the prequel trilogy) it might prompt more producers and directors to look at space opera. Certainly the success of Star Trek The Next Generation was a large factor in creating an environment where B5, DS9, Farscape, Stargate, and ending with BSG could all thrive. Hopefully the success of Walking Dead and Game of Thrones will mean HBO look more at transferring those production values to SF shows. I've said elsewhere that the plot of GoT could easily be transferred to a galactic setting and it has a lot of similarities with Babylon 5 in particular.

Based on what you say about being introduced to science fiction through Mass Effect, have you watched B5, Farscape etc? If not, you've got plenty of cracking material there to keep you entertained until the next SF series comes along. They may not look quite as polished as Game of Thrones but they pioneered a lot of the special effects and storytelling techniques that we take for granted now, and they have some brilliant stories that stand the test of time.
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