For the last few years it seemed that the future of space operas was looking bleak. Aside from the Star Trek reboot, no one seemed that interested in telling the story of humans reaching for the stars. Science fiction was brought home to Earth, with little attention paid to the stars above. And then Mass Effect came along and saved us all.
Besides being a great video game series, Mass Effect is one of the best space operas ever created. It has a great storyline, intriguing and engaging characters, and a rich universe filled with detail. For those unaware, the Mass Effect series follows Commander Shepard, a human soldier who fights to save the galaxy about two hundred years in the future. Along the way he gathers a team from various races and backgrounds to help him. That’s the series in a nutshell, but it doesn’t come close to describing the intricacies of the Mass Effect saga. If you haven’t played the games yet, they come with my highest recommendation. Mass Effect may not only have a huge impact on the gaming community, but hopefully the rest of culture.
Mass Effect like any other successful video game franchise these days is not limited to the games themselves. Several novels and comic book tie-ins have been produced to add an extended universe to the saga. In addition, an anime and film have been announced by the game’s producer, Bioware. Mass Effect’s popularity is impossible to deny. What this hopefully means is a renewed interest in space operas. One of the best aspects of the game was that it showed humans exploring and settling the galaxy far beyond Earth, and interacting with other species and cultures. This is an aspect of science fiction that has been sadly downplayed in recent years. Mass Effect shows the future of humanity as not necessarily bright, but not dark either. It shows that potential of humans to advance and thrive. It’s refreshing to see these themes for a change.
Hopefully Mass Effect shows a renewed interest in space operas and space exploration as themes for science fiction. Films like Prometheus show this trend as well. If Mass Effect continues its popularity beyond the trilogy, hopefully it means that people are ready for space operas again. It also shows that classic science fiction is on the rise in popularity as well. Maybe someday we’ll be naming a spaceship after the Normandy like we did the Enterprise.
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