One of the ways I spend my time is by
devouring books whole reading science fiction (and fantasy.) I’ve always leaned toward the space opera camp in sci-fi, and although I’m not finished with it yet (at over 900 pages, I’m sure you’ll forgive me), I can heartily recommend The Space Opera Renaissance, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. This book is a blow-by-blow survey of the development of space opera, what it meant when it started (not what you’d think!), what it means now, and the best examples of every era. What I find unique is that it also includes a few parodies of the sub-genre, like Clive Jackson’s The Swordsmen of Varnis (the ending lives on as a visual gag in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), commentary on what these authors were going for, and in some cases, how the parody caused a resurgence of interest in space opera.
Stories range from a few pages to over 100 pages in length, and the book offers a broad spectrum of authors, from forefathers of science fiction to present-day greats. It’s a great way to dabble in the sub-genre, and find new authors to read. (There’s also a lovely hardcover edition, if you’re interested.)