I love space operas.
I know the term "space opera" was originally used as a label of disparagement, coined by a science fiction author to describe a spate of terrible stories written by opportunists to capitalize on a new, enthusiastic market, and I know there is a genre called "new space opera" that is apparently attempting to make the space opera more acceptable. God help me, but I just don't care about any of that.
When I was a kid, stories set in space had ray guns and bug aliens and evil cyborgs and technology that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it didn't matter because it let the hero do really, really cool things. Buck Rogers, Han Solo, and Captain Kirk were larger-than-life supermen who broke the rules and saved the day, usually with a wisecrack.
And, of course, Han shot first.
I wasn't exclusively a fan of space opera: growing up, I had access to my parents' huge collection of science fiction and fantasy books, and I was exposed to Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Harry Harrison, Poul Anderson, Robert Asprin, David Brin, Sheri S. Tepper, Ursula K. Le Guin... the list goes on, but I won't. But space opera remained my first love, and so it's only natural that it was the genre for my first novel.
The fact that I wrote a space opera, and that it feels (to me, at least) as if it belongs in the the mid-to-late 1970s, probably contributed to my inability to never actually sell it. There are likely other reasons as well: first novels are what they are. But I like the story, love the characters, and in this day and age, when publishing something is as simple as pushing it out to a website, I see no reason why I should put it aside and think back on it wistfully... so I put it here.
Which means, many will say, I have officially ruined any chance I have of ever selling it and making a living off it. This may be true, but I wasn't doing a particularly good job of that before, so I haven't actually lost out on anything yet. And I'd like to point out that Cory Doctorow makes all his writing available for free online, yet he seems to make a decent living.
Yes, many will say, but you are not Cory Doctorow. Which is, sadly, very true, and a fair point: just because a successful writer has managed to stay successful by doing something that (at the time) was terribly unique and daring, there's no guarantee that anyone else who tries will find the same success.
To which I can only reply: I can't really do anything about that. Enjoy the story.