Space Opera, then and now

For my friends and readers who enjoy good SciFi

In a period of time eons ago, but after the coalescence of the Two Galaxies… was E.E. “Doc” Smith, the father of modern Space Opera. If you’ve ever read his Lensman series, or his *giggle* Skylark series, you’ll understand why he earned that title. Swashbuckling heroes with muscles that ripple in their gray leather suits, red-headed seven-sector callouts with tawny, gold-flecked eyes, strange looking aliens both good and bad, a deus ex machina good-guy gimmick, a drug that transcends any humanly possible high, intergalactic gangsters, ancient, wise and terrible guardians and blackguards, and weapons that become ever more powerful, biting, clawing, gouging, and coruscating through the spectrum into the black, beyond even the ability to describe their absolute, incomprehensible-cubed destructive ability… well, you get the drift. I happen to enjoy his fiction… it’s old, corny, hackneyed, totally disrespectful of all known laws of physics, and a great ride.

But today I’d like to introduce you to one of Smith’s heirs: Schlock Mercenary, a webcomic written and drawn by Howard Tyler.


Sergeant Schlock, an amorph and eponymous hero of the strip.

“Schlock Mercenary” is space opera, just like its predecessor… but it’s space opera for the 21st century, with both heart and brains. Tayler, in addition to being a cartoonist, is a writer, in every sense of that word, and one who takes his craft as seriously as a heart attack.

The strip is complex and deep and tangled and convoluted, and not for those looking for “fluff” – Tayler has created a world every bit as intriguing as Niven’s “Known Space,” and I’m not going to even try to give you an overview. But I’ll suggest you get to know the strip through one character: Kathryn Flinders.


Start at the beginning of Mallcop Command and watch this lady develop as a character (you first see her on 2/11/2010). In the process, you’ll be drawn in to an amazing world of military mercenary magic, and some intriguing character development along the way. If you like good science fiction and good writing, there’s a high probability that you’ll be hooked, and have to go back to the beginning of the strip.

You can thank me later.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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