Space opera, it’s my favourite subgenre. I love how big the universe is, how spaceships can zip to and fro, with warp drives, hyperdrives and jump gates. But mostly I love the drama of it, how a single person (or a few persons) can save the universe. Inevitably, someone important dies along the way, but that just adds to the tension and that slightly breathless feeling you get as story draws to its conclusion.
If you haven’t read space opera before but want to give it a try, and even if you’re a hard core fan, below are few free space operas to get you started.
The Course of Empire (Course of Empire 1)
Would they destroy earth in order to save it?
Conquered by the Jao twenty years ago, the Earth is shackled under alien tyranny—and threatened by the even more dangerous Ekhat, who are sending a genocidal extermination fleet to the solar system. Humanity’s only chance rests with an unusual pair of allies: a young Jao prince, newly arrived to Terra to assume his duties, and a young human woman brought up amongst the Jao occupiers.
But both are under pressure from the opposing forces—a cruel Jao viceroy on one side, determined to drown all opposition in blood; a reckless human resistance on the other, perfectly prepared to shed it. Added to the mix is the fact that only by adopting some portions of human technology and using human sepoy troops can the haughty Jao hope to defeat the oncoming Ekhat attack—and then only by fighting the battle within the Sun itself.
Caretaker (Caretaker Chronicles 1)
Ethan Bryant was supposed to fall asleep on a ship leaving Earth and wake up fifty years later with his family on the planet Minea. Instead, after the ship’s caretaker—the lone human in charge of monitoring the ship’s vital systems—suddenly died, the ship’s computer locked Ethan out of his stasis chamber and gave him the job. That was five years ago. Five years of checking to make sure everything runs smoothly on a ship Ethan knows almost nothing about.
Who wouldn’t dread the years ahead? Who wouldn’t long for their once-bright future now stolen away?
Ethan is resigned to his fate, until the ship suddenly wakes up another passenger: a beautiful engineer who, along with Ethan, soon discovers a horrible secret—a navigation room hidden from even the ship’s computer. The ship is not bound for Minea—but to somewhere far more dangerous.
With the ship nearing its sinister destination, Ethan soon learns he is the only one who holds the key to saving all 4,000 passengers from a highly-advanced, hostile alien race.
Alien Hunters (Alien Hunters 1)
The skelkrins. Predators from deep space. Creatures of claws, fangs, and unending malice. They swarm across the galaxy, slaying all in their path. Planets burn in their wake. And now they’re heading to Earth.
Raphael “Riff” Starfire commands the Alien Hunters, a group of scruffy mercenaries. Galactic pest controllers, they mostly handle small critters–aliens that clog up your engine pipes, gnaw on your hull, or burrow through your silos.
Riff and his crew have never faced anything like the skelkrins before. As these cosmic killers invade our solar system, will Riff be the one hunting aliens…or will aliens hunt him?
Bane of the Dead (Seraphim Revival 1)
In an empire ruled by the honored dead, seraphs are the ultimate weapons. Fueled by the pilot’s very soul, these colossal humanoid war machines are unstoppable in battle. Only a few possess the gift to control such craft, and those men and women are prized above all others.
Jack Donolon is the most powerful pilot in existence, a hero of Earth with a mind fractured by his seraph. On the far side of the galaxy, he uncovers a terrible truth about the seraphs and their pilots. Now he must return on a mission no one will understand, to face and kill the people who once called him friend and comrade.
But the death he will bring is insignificant next to the destruction that will follow, should he fail…
Dark Expanse (Bright Beyond prequel)
In a world of military space stations, planetary jumps and alien offensives, nineteen-year-old Eva Braebel’s life has never been easy. She’s small. She’s female. And she earned the ire of a powerful General at a young age. With hard work and the support of her friends, she achieves more than she ever dreamed possible: A position as flight squadron leader and the man who she loves by her side.
Eva just got everything she’s ever wanted, but how long can she keep it?
Axira Episode One (Galactic Coalition Academy)
She is different. Powerful. A solider of centuries.
For 450 years she was enslaved to one of the masters of the Kore sects. She was forced to fight in endless battles. War, destruction, desolation–all wrought by her.
But then she escapes. Seeking revenge on her master, she turns to the only group powerful enough to help her–the Coalition.
She joins the Academy. It should be easy. It isn’t. She rapidly finds out that despite her raw power, she needs more to become an effective recruit.
But now is not the time for failure. There is a spy on Academy grounds–a spy who is tearing the Coalition’s intelligence to shreds. She finds herself drawn into the hunt. A hunt she will not lose. For she is Axira, the most powerful spacer in the Milky Way…
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Feature image courtesy of Bill Lile via Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons license.