Space Opera

SFX - - Reviews - Jayne Nel­son

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”.

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