Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed. I can't think of any other SF author who has written so well
in so many different SF genres and styles (humor, space opera,
cyberpunk, pure sf, mystery, disaster). He has the ability to present
worlds in which the reader can immerse themself because they are so
complete and well thought out.
It's a shame he hasn't been able to break through in reputation with a
top classic after writing so many merely excellent books.