So, right, spaceships.
I like writing about spaceships. Not every science fiction story involving spaceships is space opera, of course--which, in my idiosyncratic definition, is often playful with language, frenetic, fecundly huge in galactic scope--but let's just say that my grips on the nuts and bolts of Actual Science are, um, tenuous. I don't really write science fiction to speculate on science, except when the science intersects with larger philosophical ideas. In this sense, space opera is the ultimate sandbox of non-realism. It exists in a vacuum. Not strangeness (though there is that!), then, as much as estrangement--from breathable oxygen, from homes, from the familiar. Put real people in the equivalent of a sardine can, unmoor from the real, and see what happens. What happens is the devastating feminist critique of James Tiptree's "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" What happens is the unhinged feline-human symbiosis of Cordwainer Smith's "The Game of Rat and Dragon." (It's hard not to fall in love with sentences like "The Partners rode their tiny craft, no larger than footballs, outside the spaceships.")
Still, one might argue, one can write about identity, sexual politics, in many a setting. Why in space? With bad writing, this sandbox is a mighty uninteresting graveyard. With good writing, however, and an attention to character, the landscape--or rather, the lack of landscape--can add an adventurous texture to the narrative. (I wonder if this is the same dynamic that was going on in 19th and early 20th century maritime fiction--and doubtless someone smarter has already explored this link.)
So even though none of my space opera made it into the collection (the flow between stories, perhaps; or wanting to collect all of the space opera together at some point), it's still part of the fabric of what I write. Questions find different ways to be written, and characters--often with conflicting or contradictory questions--are going to stumble around trying to answer them. Any time. Any place.
Finally, I think that, in the course of pushing oneself, it can be very helpful to court embarrassment. (Does Battlestar Gallactica change this dynamic? I'm not sure. Maybe.) That is to say, if what you write about seems, on one level, spectacularly ridiculous to you, and yet still sparks your prose wildly onward, you might be onto something. And, really, there are few things more absurd than faster-than-light travel.