Given a choice reading between fantasy and sci-fi, I'd choose sci-fi. While the line separating these 2 genres are becoming less and less clear, I'm really partial to novel big on sci-fi elements, one of which is space opera.
Space opera? Think Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, and all those adventure stories featuring spaceships, faster-than-light travel, contact with aliens. High on testosterone, space opera is. And apparently, a significant number of these novels are doorstops. That's at least 500 pages of action set in space.
I wonder why space opera, as a subgenre in sci-fi, isn't as popular nowadays. It peaked during the mid 20th century, when most published sci-fi novels were set in space. Isaac Asimov's Foundation series had space operatic elements. Another one is Arthur C. Clarke's Rama novels.
Perhaps readers are now looking more and more into fantasy when they're craving for speculative fiction. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is as popular as ever. Tolkien's middle earth novels are currently enjoying a revival, especially with the ongoing The Hobbit movies. A lot of current young adult bestsellers are in the fantasy mold as well: Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, etc.
Maybe there's hope for space opera. The latest Star Trek movie is out this year, and there's going to be a slew of new Star Wars movies in the future. And let's not forget Ender's Game. I hope these movies rekindle the interest in reading space opera.
Now, I'm reading Iain M. Banks's first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas. It's a very enjoyable read, set in the far future where artificial intelligences (drones and "Minds") play a huge role in a utopian society. It's got politics, sociology, technology, and just good ol' adventure. Interesting trivia: When Banks writes non-sci-fi novels, he drops his middle initial. His most popular novel is still The Wasp Factory, his debut work.
Being stuck on Earth can be boring; let's all head to space!