Space Opera

· Space Opera, The Book 1 · Sold by Simon and Schuster
22 reviews

About this ebook


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente's science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

A 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 great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.

Ratings and reviews

22 reviews
John Peacock
April 20, 2018
When you start a book by Catherynne Valente, you are always in for a treat. Whether it is a girl going to Fairyland on the back of a magical flying leopard or a clever peasant girl encountering Koschei the Deathless (stepping out of Russian folklore) as his bride and then his destruction. But here, you get the epic tale of two aging rock stars as the last hope for humanity in a sing-for-your-world's-salvation contest. Decibel Jones (born Danesh Jalo) and Oort St. Ultraviolet (born Omar Calisșkan), are the surviving members of the glamrock band "Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros" and find themselves on the short list to represent Humanity in the Metagalactic Grand Prix - a way for the galactic civilization to avoid any more intergalactic wars. Humanity has few allies (including the representative of the sponsoring race, something like a blue flamingo), but also many potential enemies, since losing means Humanity is not deemed sentient and will be eliminated from the universe. The story (inspired by live-tweeting the Eurovision song contest) is more than a little bit like something Douglas Adams might have written. But Cat Valente's use of language is wholly unique to her works: every sentence is hand crafted and dense with alliteration, florid adjectives, or the occasional profanity, depending on the need. All of the common tropes of both science fiction and rock music are pulled out, tried on, altered, and fitted just right, all to drive the story's varied needs. It's also a huge amount of fun. The narration, by Heath Miller, matches the text beautifully. He manages the dense text wonderfully, using his facility for accents to highlight the different characters. And when the story calls for it, he sings (I presume he dances too, but it's hard to tell because it's an audiobook). Between the hilarious story and the excellent narration, there is always the risk of driving off the road laughing, so be careful if listening on your commute.
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Anne Trotter
February 27, 2021
The love child of Douglas Adams and Queen you always wanted. If I highlighted every memorable line, the whole book would be one big neon light visible from the moon.
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Walter Gude
February 23, 2019
Tries way too hard to be Hitch Hikers Guide, but ultimately is a pale reflection.
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About the author

Catherynne M. Valente is an acclaimed New York Times bestselling creator of over forty works of fantasy and science fiction, including the Fairyland novels and The Glass Town Game. She has been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy awards, and has won the Otherwise (formerly Tiptree), Hugo, and Andre Norton award. She lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her partner, young son, and a shockingly large cat with most excellent tufts.

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