A while ago in a conversation about somethingorother..I think it was about Robots, giant robots, and the female form. And it’s hard to make a super-powerful heroic female form without sexualising it a bit because female characteristics are (generally) also sexual characteristics and if you emphasise or enhance them then you are also sexualising them, or at the very least 'allowing' them to be sexy.
Oh yeah, can you have social novel/space opera fiction?
other things I was thinking
The Mutari Nebulae, where, as you know, shields will be useless. And you can't see each other very well. Space ships instead of acting like Sea Ships from the sail instead act a bit like submarines from Red October.
Space Captain Jenny Hammer
A Star Trek ship patrolling a gigantic Nebulae would have to act in a very different way, and, in fact its morality would be quite different because Starfleet morality is built around having big white ships that are hard to kill in one go. They have shields. Like a Knights morality is different to a peasants morality because the Knight is armoured to fuck and their life is actually worth money.
The Nebulae would be alive and would be socially connected, a pantheon of mutual alien minds. These connections would be changing always and must be investigated. Worlds and systems would be hidden in the Nebulae and be revealed for strange purposes. The 'geography’ of space in this area would be mutable, the product of a vast interstellar soap opera running parallel to the main plot, but only occasionally glimpsed. The relationship with space would be social as well as dynamic.
The living clouds of the Nebulae have different origins
An intelligent sun gone supernova, its spirit inhabiting the cloud of atomised gas it has become.
A post-singularity star system consumed by nanotech and reduced to intelligent dust.
Motes of Pure consciousness drifting through from some higher plane* (thanks Phillip Pullman)
Crystallised time from the edges of a disappeared black hole.
A colony of vaguely-psychic spores that drift through space and start life on dead worlds when they hit one.
A blizzard of apocalyptic alternate realities, each tied into a dimensional knot inside the planck length. When an alternate universe dies, a new mote appears.
The still-active micro-defence systems and ashy remains of a fleet of Rama-Sized world-ships that were annihilated in a long forgotten war. The micro-guards heard the flecks of dead ash like sheep, protecting it still.
A cloud of tiny micro-cameras forming a trans-galactic telescope designed to spy in detail on the evolution of an ancient galaxy for an unknown observer.
The body of a celestially-primordial star-god, hiding and sleeping in a dispersed stasis, waiting to be awakened and congeal once more into its active form.
10. Cu na Cuailgne.
Heavily radioactive gold. Poisonous and transformed by some unknown force. Impossible to recover. Holding ultradense predators from the bellies of gas giants. Like a thick poisonous sea.
* Motes of Pure Consciousness is obviously NOTHING LIKE having a Magic Man outside Space and Time, that would be irrational. Whereas special dust that makes you aware is completely reasonable.