Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

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The plot is basic. The action is predictable (once you get past the telepathic flamingoes and FTL travel). It starts with a bad day and ends with a song. But in between? In between it's all big ideas written in glitter. It's surprising tenderness on a galactic scale.
-NPR

Synopsis

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.
 

About Catherynne M. Valente

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Catherynne M. Valente is the author of over a dozen books of fiction and poetry, and is best-known for her urban speculative fiction, including Palimpsest (winner of the 2010 Lambda Award), and The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden. This, her first novel for young readers, was posted online in 2009 and won the Andre Norton Award-the first book to ever win before traditional publication. Cat Valente lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and an enormous cat. Ana Juan is a world-renowned illustrator known in this country for her wonderful covers for the New Yorker magazine, as well as the children's books The Night Eater, and Frida, written by Jonah Winter. She lives in Spain.
 
Published April 10, 2018 by Saga Press. 304 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Space Opera
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 16 2018

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.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Sheehan on Apr 04 2018

The plot is basic. The action is predictable (once you get past the telepathic flamingoes and FTL travel). It starts with a bad day and ends with a song. But in between? In between it's all big ideas written in glitter. It's surprising tenderness on a galactic scale.

Read Full Review of Space Opera | See more reviews from NPR

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