Space Opera

Space Opera

IN SPACE EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU SINGA century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented-something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.Once every cycle, the civiliza...

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Title:Space Opera
Author:Catherynne M. Valente
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Space Opera Reviews

  • Trish

    Once upon a time on a small, watery, exciteable planet called Earth ... we find out that we are indeed not alone in the universe. On the contrary. The universe is teeming with all kinds of life (including the most improbably forms of FTL transportation) and after a horrible intergalactic war, every sentient species has agreed on a form of contest with which to entertain but also combat one another. And it is a way of discerning if a species is sentient or

    Once upon a time on a small, watery, exciteable planet called Earth ... we find out that we are indeed not alone in the universe. On the contrary. The universe is teeming with all kinds of life (including the most improbably forms of FTL transportation) and after a horrible intergalactic war, every sentient species has agreed on a form of contest with which to entertain but also combat one another. And it is a way of discerning if a species is sentient or shall be annihilated. The contest? Well ... basically it is like the Eurovision Song Contest. The performance on stage is at least as important as how well you can sing. The different standards for beauty and talent the different galactic races have aren't helping any more than the bloodthirstiness of most of them.

    After humanity has been brought up to speed about not being alone and having to participate in this year's contest if we want to survive, we are given a list of potential contestants ... the problem being that all but one are either dead or incapacitated. *lol*

    Thus, Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroe(s) travel through space (with a freshly talking cat and at least two well-meaning aliens) and try to prevent humanity from being wiped out by at least not coming in last in Galactovision. Because while we might be indredibly stupid, we've also done some pretty cool things one should not forget about.

    Magic is real. As is evident every time Valente uses it to bind words onto the page, arranging those words so perfectly, I want to weep. Seriously, while this book is as silly as any of Douglas Adams' work (I really think he and Sir Pratchett would be proud to welcome this author in their midst), the author never fails to convey profound truths about life, being human and everything else wrapped up in glitter and laughs.

    There is trivia, there are some side-stabs at certain performers *coughs*TaylorSwift*coughs* and enough snark to fill three books.

    The concept had already been wonderful but the execution is simply brilliant.

    Also noteworthy is the narrator of the audio version and how he brings to life so much of the humour by the different voices he gives the aliens (and the man can sing!). The book will always be perfect but I truly believe that the audio version gives it an additional level of greatness.

  • Bradley

    Life is beautiful. Life is stupid.

    This book was all kinds of freaking wonderful, packed to the gills with glam and snark and a buttload of heart-wrenching brutal honesty wrapped up with a bow of sex, aliens, and rock and roll.

    A lot of people are equating this with Hitchhiker's Guide, but in a lot of ways, it's better. And worse. The sheer amount of delightful rock-and-roll trivia and snark made me think of Rob Reid's Year Zero, but this was better. Think about all the aging Glam Rock stars who h

    Life is beautiful. Life is stupid.

    This book was all kinds of freaking wonderful, packed to the gills with glam and snark and a buttload of heart-wrenching brutal honesty wrapped up with a bow of sex, aliens, and rock and roll.

    A lot of people are equating this with Hitchhiker's Guide, but in a lot of ways, it's better. And worse. The sheer amount of delightful rock-and-roll trivia and snark made me think of Rob Reid's Year Zero, but this was better. Think about all the aging Glam Rock stars who have had their best days long ago being catapulted into galactic society in a sing-off with the stakes being the fate of the race.

    You know, time lag. Can't use the recent stuff and most of the old stuff is either hopeless or dead. Who's left? The Absolute Zeroes. :) One is dead and the others are impoverished, and yet they have to sing for their lives against all the biggest stars in the galaxy. Because, after all, Life is Beautiful, Life is Stupid.

    It just happens to be better than most of the alternatives. :)

    Great concept, even BETTER execution. Every page is full of awesomeness, glam, and utter despair. Meeting all these poor alien saps and their quirky f***ed up lives and kinks is half the fun, but I happen to LOVE Decibel Jones. He's so early Bowie and aging rock star and a whole ball of f***ed up, himself. :) I swear I can hear all the songs playing in my head, adding several soundtracks to this novel as I read it. :)

    And the end? MY GOD that's a lightshow-and-a-half. :) Ziggy Stardust has NOTHING on this. :)

    I think I may have found my absolute favorite Valente novel out of a TON of favorite Valente novels. I mean, I'm always super excited to read Valente, but this has got to be the one that tops them all. :)

  • Lindsay

    Humorous writing is not for everyone; senses of humor just tend to be too different and/or incompatible. This one hits my sense of humor square on: absurdist, wry and with a core of profundity that works very well with the lush writing that the author has on display elsewhere.

    After the Sentience Wars interstellar civilization has implemented the Metagalactic Grand Prix song contest which all prospective sentient species must compete in and not come last. A new species that comes last is deemed t

    Humorous writing is not for everyone; senses of humor just tend to be too different and/or incompatible. This one hits my sense of humor square on: absurdist, wry and with a core of profundity that works very well with the lush writing that the author has on display elsewhere.

    After the Sentience Wars interstellar civilization has implemented the Metagalactic Grand Prix song contest which all prospective sentient species must compete in and not come last. A new species that comes last is deemed to be not-sentient, a danger to interstellar civilization and is exterminated. It's Earth's turn, and representing us we have washed-up glampunk band Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes.

    The author explicitly calls out the link to

    in the afterword as being the godfather of all SF humor writing, and she doesn't attempt to dodge that here, instead leaning in to the classic Hitchhikers-like bizarre digressions into humorous exposition. The comparison to Hitchhikers is very apt. Still, this book is definitely Valente's own, as Decibel Jones's regret for what happened to the band and his willingness to aggressively embrace the alien and bizarre help strengthen humanity's case. Oort's journey is no less interesting as the ostensible sellout punk musician reaching for the youth that he's left behind. And there's plenty of humor and comment on the the current state of humanity by the various and well-characterized alien species.

    Superb, but maybe not for everyone, much like the Hitchhikers Guide novels.

  • Veronique

    3.5*

    When I heard that Valente was creating a ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in space with alien civilisations battling by song, I was totally sold, especially since I’d wanted to read something of hers for ages. The problem you see is that the author had to write it in a humouristic, tongue-in-cheek, tone and I don’t do well with that style. I still read it, enjoyed it to a certain extent, smiled a few times, recognised the writing skill, but never truly connected with the story or characters - and t

    3.5*

    When I heard that Valente was creating a ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in space with alien civilisations battling by song, I was totally sold, especially since I’d wanted to read something of hers for ages. The problem you see is that the author had to write it in a humouristic, tongue-in-cheek, tone and I don’t do well with that style. I still read it, enjoyed it to a certain extent, smiled a few times, recognised the writing skill, but never truly connected with the story or characters - and this is ultimately my bad, hence my score. If you like this style, then by all means, dive in. You won’t regret it :0)

  • Jenne

    So, one time I bought a bottle of Miracle-Gro for my houseplants. I used it once or twice and then stuck it in the back of a cupboard and forgot about it.

    Years later, when I was moving house, I cleared out the cupboard and found the bottle, which had leaked somehow and the Miracle-Gro had actually *made the bottle itself grow*! There were all these baroque sort of globules growing fractally off the side of it. It was magical and also a bit disturbing.

    This book reminded me of my miraculous Mira

    So, one time I bought a bottle of Miracle-Gro for my houseplants. I used it once or twice and then stuck it in the back of a cupboard and forgot about it.

    Years later, when I was moving house, I cleared out the cupboard and found the bottle, which had leaked somehow and the Miracle-Gro had actually *made the bottle itself grow*! There were all these baroque sort of globules growing fractally off the side of it. It was magical and also a bit disturbing.

    This book reminded me of my miraculous Miracle-Gro bottle, except that it was more like if you took a Douglas Adams novel and spilled some David Bowie on it (use your imagination) and left it in a dark cupboard for an astronomical time unit or several, this is what you would get.

    I would say any random five or ten pages of this book is quite enjoyable, but taken all together I’m not sure it really adds up to anything.

  • Lata

    While I love Catherynne M. Valente's sentences for their cleverness, biting humour and commentary, I find that my reaction to her work really depends on whether I'm listening to it or reading it. I tend to struggle with her long and convoluted senteneces when I read her text, but just adore her work when I listen to it as I really like her wordplay.

    I was concerned reading reviews for this book as people kept making glowing comments and references to

    . (Even t

    While I love Catherynne M. Valente's sentences for their cleverness, biting humour and commentary, I find that my reaction to her work really depends on whether I'm listening to it or reading it. I tend to struggle with her long and convoluted senteneces when I read her text, but just adore her work when I listen to it as I really like her wordplay.

    I was concerned reading reviews for this book as people kept making glowing comments and references to

    . (Even the author did for this book.) Humour can be pretty subjective, and I am one of the few people who found "Hitchhiker's Guide" and its subsequent books only very occasionally funny.

    Back to this book. I was tickled by the idea of Earth having to prove its worth and sentience at an intergalactic song competition, with a poor performance guaranteeing Earth's eradication. So I did enjoy the beginning of "Space Opera", but soon found myself struggling my way through the text. I was infrequently amused, and kept wishing this book were only a novella. I thought the aliens and their diversity were inventive and great, but didn't need entire chapters devoted to all the alien politics and previous competitors' performances. I really wanted to love this book, but I'm going to have to go with a grudging 3.5 stars.

  • Gary

    In the setup for Catherynne M. Valente’s new “Eurovision in space” novel Space Opera, a has-been, burned-out, Bowie-wannabe rock star called Decibel Jones is inexplicably chosen to sing in an intergalactic competition for humanity’s right to exist. Unfortunately, after the amusingly gonzo kickoff, the subsequent two-thirds of the book is the most epic filler of all time – a plotless pile of twisty-worded tangents about everything on Earth the author can think of, packed with in-jokes and puns an

    In the setup for Catherynne M. Valente’s new “Eurovision in space” novel Space Opera, a has-been, burned-out, Bowie-wannabe rock star called Decibel Jones is inexplicably chosen to sing in an intergalactic competition for humanity’s right to exist. Unfortunately, after the amusingly gonzo kickoff, the subsequent two-thirds of the book is the most epic filler of all time – a plotless pile of twisty-worded tangents about everything on Earth the author can think of, packed with in-jokes and puns and double-entendres and tonal shifts from slapstick to droll to burlesque to self-deprecating to farcical and my god it’s way more exhausting than funny and I’m not kidding it goes on FOREVER before anything resembling a story returns and it almost gets good again until it contrives a flimsy solution to the main problem, then cuts off mid-climax and goes straight to the denouement. I normally like Valente’s writing; how she managed to write a novel without a single interesting character and stretch about 5000 words of story into 80,000 words is, admittedly, an impressive feat, and also completely mystifying and frustrating and disappointing.

  • Maria

    I’M GETTING HIGH JUST FROM READING THIS BLURB

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I dunno, people. I’m having a tough time getting through this book. Its Hitchhiker-type of humor can be very funny, but too often I find it just silly and exhausting. It’s going on hiatus for a week or so; I’m on vacation* and I’ve got lots of other things to read and do rather than force myself to power through to the end of this book.

    * I have three large, tough sons - two in their early twenties and one an older teen - holding down the home fort against any intruders. No lie. So I don’

    I dunno, people. I’m having a tough time getting through this book. Its Hitchhiker-type of humor can be very funny, but too often I find it just silly and exhausting. It’s going on hiatus for a week or so; I’m on vacation* and I’ve got lots of other things to read and do rather than force myself to power through to the end of this book.

    * I have three large, tough sons - two in their early twenties and one an older teen - holding down the home fort against any intruders. No lie. So I don’t feel like I’m being reckless in sharing my vacation status here. :) Meanwhile, my husband and I are having a nice time celebrating our 25th anniversary in Cabo San Lucas!

    The hardcover ARC just appeared on my doorstep yesterday, and this looks like so much fun! Sort of a glam rock twist on

    -type humor.

    Stay tuned!

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