When Space Opera Becomes Art

Illustration for article titled When Space Opera Becomes Art

Spaceships roaring across depthless vistas, weapons flaring into the vacuum. Can any visions really live up to our mental images of the glory of space opera? Hell yes, and here's the concept art to prove it.

We decided to cure our Monday blues by seeking out some of the coolest space-opera concept art on the Web, including the entries from two concept-art challenges and some matte paintings and CG illustrations by some of our favorite artists. Follow the links after each image to find way more awesomeness. If you want to view this in non-gallery format, click here.

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Top image: Translight jump by Francis Tsai. More art at the link!

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Space opera art by Alan Chan, from the Art Institute Online & Alienware concept art competition.

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Spaceship art from Alexander Preuss aka Vampeta, winner of the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge. [via Concept Ships]

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Destruction by John Wu. Way more art at the link!

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Starship by Francis Tsai. More art at the link!

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Proposed Battlestar Galactica revamp concept art by Eric Chu. (More at Cinemaspy!)

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CCP Games concept art by B. Börkur Eiríksson, more art at the link!

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CCP Games concept art by B. Börkur Eiríksson, more art at the link!

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Lusiatania by Andree Wallin, more art at the link. A tribute to Orson Scott Card's Xenocide.

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January Dancer by Sparth, more awesome art at the link.

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Flight Response by Philip Straub, more art at the link.

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Entry in the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge by Tamas Jarolics.

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Entry in the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge by Mike McGregor.

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Entry in the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge by Sidharth Chaturvedi.

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Entry in the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge by Pawel Lewandorski

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Tony Bela's entry in the CG Society's Grand Space Opera challenge.

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Herve (Nuro) Grossin's entry in the CG Society Grand Space Opera challenge.

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Strength book cover by Stephan Martiniere. More at the link.

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Lady Of Mazes book cover by Stephan Martiniere. More at the link.

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Space book cover by Stephan Martiniere. More at the link.

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Space opera concept art from Epistemonike Phantasia

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DISCUSSION

Ornithopterx
Ornithopterx

Thank you for including concepts from CCP Games.

I started playing EVE Online (through their free trial) with almost no idea how the game worked; my sole motivator was how they chose to represent space. I've never seen a game that offered that same sense of grand scale (Freelancer was close, if I remember). Everything about the game's design reinforces the concept that the distances are simply too vast for standard "flying an airplane" control. Even zooming your camera in and out expands your view well over 500 km from your ship; it disappears long before you hit the max distance.

What I wasn't expecting, however, was to find some of the most appropriate world-building I've seen in or out of a video game. Everything down to player immortality is a real, measured part of life in the EVE universe with all the implications you might expect to see explored in a well-planned novel.

In addition to the in-game fiction, CCP regularly publishes short stories called EVE Chronicles that flesh out more of the universe, illustrate non-essential characters or philosophies, or continue to expand on how features of the game fit into the fiction of the universe. The stories themselves are well-written and are interesting entirely on their own.

My purpose here isn't to sell the game, which I'll freely admit isn't for everyone (even among the average video game player). In general terms, I wish to point out to anyone who might not otherwise realize there's some amazing scifi in places you might expect to find only derivative material. More specifically, though, I want to point to CCP Games as someone who should be applauded for taking their science fiction seriously. Before reading io9 I never thought much about the quality of scifi, or about how much of a story was science fiction versus regular fiction with spaceships. Now that I'm learning to recognize the differences, I'm also learning to appreciate the good examples when I see them.