Space Opera versus Soap Opera
Posted for Toni V. Sweeney by Linda Nightingale
When I wrote the series Star Smuggler, I didn’t think of it as a “space opera.” I considered it a “romantic adventure.” Studying it now, I realize that’s exactly what it is…just one gigantic soap opera set in the future on a planet far, far away. The publisher calls it Star Wars Meets Firefly, and fans of those two entertainments know what that means: Emphasis on fun and adventure rather than technology and rocket ships.
The introduction to this sudsy space saga might go something like this;
Welcome, dear reader, to Star Smuggler, Book 1: The Last Voyage. This may prompt someone to ask, “If this is the last voyage, how can it be the first book?”
A better question would be: Can a half-breed human-hating smuggler find happiness with an adopted Navajo in spite of threats from the United Terran Federation and many of his nefarious criminal cohorts?
This novel introduces Sinbad and Andi, the most mismatched pair in the universe, and is set partly in the remains of lower California after a gigantic quake sends much of the state into the Pacific, leaving only Angel City (a remnant of the late, great, Los Angeles) and Baja California, and partly on other planets of the galaxy.
Andrea Talltrees is a member of the Naturals, a group who don’t utilize anything that wasn’t around in the early to mid-twentieth century, and they definitely don’t go flying off into space in rocketships.
Sinbad is a half-Felidan smuggler resembling a man-sized feline. He’s big, he’s beautiful, he’s sexy, and he hates humans with a passion because they framed his father, a Terran soldier, and killed him.
Sin’s way of life naturally clashes with Andi’s beliefs, and when she isn’t preaching to him about the immorality of his ways, and he isn’t laughing at her attempts to reform him, they reach a rapport that gradually blossoms into something that might be love, though neither will admit it.
They spend most of the novel arguing while visited various dens of iniquity trying to find Andi’s husband, Tran, who is accused of being a spy and has lit out for parts unknown…and then a secret is discovered that threatens the Earth and the Federation and demands a sacrifice neither wants to make.
He’s a criminal. She’s far from it.
Sinbad sh’en Singh had everything. A thriving smuggling career, his hologram on wanted posters on eleven planets, and plenty of women. Then she walked into his life.
Andrea Talltrees, member of a backwards cult not believing in space travel or anything else invented after the Twentieth Century.
She wants him to find her husband, a fugitive accused of being an Albegensian spy, the planet currently at war with Earth.
He doesn’t want anything to do with an Earther, but a massive culture clash and a heavy dose of instant attraction get in the way, sending good sense flying out the viewport.
They’ll brave some very unsavory characters, maybe even prevent a second interplanetary war…if they can stop arguing.
Andi’s food arrived, a huge dish of something. She took one look at her plate and swallowed rapidly to keep from gagging, struggling to quell nausea as the heap of very large, very red worms continued squirming. One actually wiggled from the plate onto the table.
“I’m not as hungry as I thought.” Andi took one of the bright yellow apples from the centerpiece. “I’ll just eat this.”
Nodding, Jaafra removed her plate from the table and took it away.
“I’m sorry,” she told Sinbad. “I just don’t like to chase my food all over the table.”
She waited for him to make some caustic remark. Just then, Jaafra returned with Sinbad’s order. With an amused grunt, he picked up his fork and began to eat.
Andi took one look at what the plate held, gulped and looked away.
“Talltrees…” He chewed a moment, swallowed, then said, “There’s something we need to get settled. Now.”
Frowning, she looked at him. He sounded like her father when he was about to deliver a lecture.
“Look, you have to eat, I have to eat…it’s more convenient if we do it at the same time, but if you’re going to go sick every time you see me eat a piece of meat…” He stabbed another morsel and held up the fork, gesturing with it. A single drop of blood dripped from it, spattering the edge of his plate.
Andi swallowed loudly.
“That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t particularly like watching you eat food that’s been inundated with microwaves ’til it’s the consistency of a charcoal briquette, but I don’t turn green when you bite into it.”
Andi hadn’t realized her eating habits might as easily disgust him, and that made her ashamed of her behavior. Naturals taught the equality of all species, a fact once getting them on the Fed’s Suspect List, and here she was…
“You’re right, Mr. sh’en Singh, and I’m sorry.”
He didn’t answer, just ate with great relish as she bit into her apple and discovered it tasted like a banana. Sinbad dipped his knife into a bowl of red sauce and smeared it on what looked like a slice of raw potato.
“Don’t ask,” came a mouth-filled mumble. There was sauce on his fingers. He licked it off. “That apple isn’t going to go far. Would you like a couple of these beetles? I’ve enough to share.”
He gestured at what she thought were green peas. “Antillan fig beetles…high sugar content, full of Vitamin C. They’ve been dehydrated. Not alive, I promise.”
“No thanks.” She shuddered.
He scooped four off the plate and tossed them into his mouth, crunching loudly.
“Well, maybe one.” She selected a beetle and bit cautiously into it. It had a blackberry flavor.
STAR SMUGGLER: The Last Voyage is available in Kindle and paperback and will soon be available in audio book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Toni V. Sweeney was born in Georgia after the War between the States but before the Gulf War. She has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.
Toni has several pseudonyms and writes in various genres, and now is adding “TS Snow” to the list with the publishing of the Star Smuggler series.