SPACE OPERA by Catherynne M. Valente

SPACE OPERA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This nearly literal title about an intergalactic battle of the bands is perhaps operatic in scope (in a comic vein, at least) but is more rock than opera.

After a devastating interstellar war in which various alien species fought for the right to be considered sentient by all the other species, peace was declared, and everyone agreed on the best way to determine sentience: a song contest. Only if a species was judged capable of baring its inner soul musically—that is, if a jury ranked it second-to-last or higher in the Megalactic Grand Prix—would it be permitted to continue existing. Now it’s Earth’s turn to prove its sentience, with a band personally selected by the galactic alliance known as the Great Octave. Unfortunately, just about everyone on their shortlist is dead—except for the two surviving members of washed-up glam rock band Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros. Can Decibel Jones and Oort St. Ultraviolet reconcile their differences, survive the plots of their murderously competitive rivals, and manage to sufficiently wow their judges to ensure the survival of humanity? Tune in for your life! Valente’s (The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, 2016, etc.) acknowledgements admit she was inspired by the Eurovision Song Contest, David Bowie, and Douglas Adams (many plot elements, the prose style, and the occasionally violent but determined whimsy of it all practically reach peak Adams saturation). The storyline is also strongly reminiscent of an episode from the bleakly comic Adult Swim cartoon Rick and Morty, which featured a similar contest and stakes—perhaps infused with a dash of Daniel Pinkwater’s Slaves of Spiegel, about an intergalactic cooking competition.

Light on plot and originality but a charming amusement all the same.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4814-9749-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2018




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