C.I. Defontenay (1819–1856) was the pseudonym of French science fiction writer Charlemagne Ischir Defontenay. Defontenay's 1854 Star, ou Psi Cassiopea is seen by some as an example of proto-space opera. Others see Defontenay as a predecessor of Olaf Stapledon. Star describes the discovery in the Himalayas of a stone that has fallen from the sky. After opening it, it turns out to contain a metal box where the narrator finds some paper manuscripts. After two years of study, he managed to decipher them and finds out that they describe the alien societies of various humanoid races living in the constellation of Cassiopeia. One set of creatures were 9-foot tall blue-haired immortal humanoids.
Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, who boasted about her unrivaled beauty. Cassiopeia was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. It is easily recognizable due to its distinctive 'W' shape, formed by five bright stars. It is opposite Ursa Major.
In northern locations above latitude 34ºN it is visible year-round and in the (sub)tropics it can be seen at its clearest from September to early November. Even in low southern latitudes below 25ºS it can be seen low in the North.
At magnitude 2.2, Alpha Cassiopeiae, or Schedar, is generally the brightest star in Cassiopeia, though is often shaded by Gamma Cassiopeiae, which has brightened to magnitude 1.6 on occasion. The constellation hosts some of the most luminous stars known, including the yellow hypergiants Rho Cassiopeiae and V509 Cassiopeiae and white hypergiant 6 Cassiopeiae. The semiregular variable PZ Cassiopeiae is one of the largest known stars. In 1572, Tycho Brahe's supernova flared brightly in Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia A is a supernova remnant and the brightest extrasolar radio source in the sky at frequencies above 1 GHz. Fourteen star systems have been found to have exoplanets, one of which—HR 8832—is thought to host seven planets. A rich section of the Milky Way runs through Cassiopeia, containing a number of open clusters, young luminous galactic disc stars, and nebulae. IC 10 is an irregular galaxy that is the closest known starburst galaxy and the only one in the Local Group of galaxies.Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera" and "horse opera", the latter of which was coined during the 1930s to indicate clichéd and formulaic Western movies. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, television and video games.
An early film which was based on space opera comic strips was Flash Gordon (1936) created by Alex Raymond. In the late 1970s, the Star Wars franchise (1977–present) created by George Lucas brought a great deal of attention to the subgenre. After the convention-breaking "New Wave", followed by the enormous success of the Star Wars films, space opera became once again a critically acceptable subgenre. Throughout 1982–2002, the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel was often given to a space opera nominee.