released OUT NOW! 304 pages | Hardback/ebook Author Catherynne M Valente Publisher Corsair
Imagine if Douglas Adams had tackled the glittery, sequin-filled extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest in the style of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, with the contest spanning all the far-out and froody denizens of the galaxy. It’s an idea that seems so right that you can’t help feeling a little sad that he never created it, but Space Opera is undeniably the next best thing. Catherynne M Valente – who acknowledges the influence of Hitchhiker’s – has cleverly recreated just the kind of surreal alien anarchy Adams would be proud of, all of it topped off with a Ziggy Stardust swagger.
The intergalactic chaos kicks off when an alien race that resembles the Looney Tunes Roadrunner arrives on Earth, tells us we have to avoid coming last in a galactic singing contest or be annihilated, and nabs two has-been glam-rockers to sing for our lives. The genius lies in the breathtaking array of races Valente has whipped up to sing with them: from gaseous clouds who are all named Ursula to small red pandas who jump between parallel timelines.
The result is so funny, so quirky and so downright weird that at times you have to remind yourself you’re not actually reading Adams... and we can’t praise anything more highly than that. Definitely not “nul points”.