John Clute said some interesting things about Hard SF in his November 2003 review of The Hard SF Renaissance (edited by David G .Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, Tor Books).
Right. Modern space operas are kind of analogous to … operas. The old joke-formulation is, perhaps, more than just a joke. Both operas and space operas are absurd when described realistically; and both make sense only when they lunge and lurch after the sublime. And sometimes reach it. Operas and space operas are music: they are songs about the sublime. — John Clute, in his column Excessive Candor