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Space Opera

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  370 ratings  ·  35 reviews
An opera company composed of aliens from a world no human is familiar with makes a concert hall appearance on Earth. Their music is strange, somewhat disconcerting, but the performance closes to rave reviews. The next day, every one of the aliens has vanished. They didn't leave by spaceship, and it seems impossible to believe they have successfully hidden themselves on a s ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 168 pages
Published March 1982 by Coronet Books (first published February 1965)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Vance plays on the phrase 'Space Opera' by offering ... space opera. The result is the very definition of farce, as a well-meaning philanthropist and her opera troupe wander the stars offering a taste of Earth's culture.

The setup is decent, and the fulfillment is okay, but for me this lacked Vance's usual sparkle and color. It's funny, but not as funny as Vance often is. The characters are drawn too clearly; there's not much in the way of subtlety. It's an episodic story, and the episodes are fu
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it

Light hearted farce about an opera company cruising the space ways to bring high Earth culture to the (mostly uninterested) alien masses. Written in Vance's usual baroque style, it's a strange mashup of PG Wodehouse and Robert Heinlein. Along the way Vance takes humorous shots at musicians, opera singers, culture vultures, etc. One of the author's lesser works but still a quick and fun read. Vance fans will be happy.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Space Opera was written by Jack Vance in 1964 and first published by Pyramid Books in 1965. Vance had been contracted to write a "space opera." Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes interplanetary adventure, romance, and melodrama. Vance humorously wrote a novel about musical operas in outer space. This is a light hearted, easy to read, 160 page novel that is likely to appeal to most Vance fans. Although the opera troupe featured in this book plays some serious opera, the ...more
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book is divided among several subplots: the journey to the mysterious planet Rlaru, the mysterious interference and mission of Madoc Roswyn, and the continual conflict between Roger Wool and his wealthy aunt Dame Isabel. All within the comic framework of a space-traveling opera troupe as it encounters unappreciative or incompatible civilizations for performances.

It's about one component too many for the limited space, and as a result each of these things feels slightly short-changed. ((view
Jim Jones
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
If PG Wodehouse wrote a SF novel, this would probably be it. There's a certain fussiness in the writing that seems more Edwardian than futuristic. Vance's witty dialog and fast-paced plot, which involves a rich, overbearing aunt who brings Earth operas to the universe via a touring company, make this a fun, fast read. But the book also actually has something to say too about assumptions of cultural superiority. The satire is Swiftian at times. ...more
Jiří Pavlovský
Jack Vance napsal román jménem Space Opera - a je to, překvapivě, space opera. Ne, vážně. Je to opravdu vesmírná opera. Do vesmíru vyráží operní soubor, aby přinesl mimozemským bytostem trochu kultury. Pod dohledem kulturně angažované šlechtičny a jejího otráveného synovce, kterého víc než kulturní povznesení zajímá tetiččino dědictví a jedna pasažérka. Jejich cílem je tajemná planeta, ovšem při cestě jsou odhodláni udělat několik zastávek a předvést mimozemských rasám pár úžasných koncertů.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is copy 48 of 200 signed numbered copies.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of comedic SF
Recommended to Skjam! by: Convergence panel
It’s not that Roger Wool doesn’t want to work, as such. It’s that he doesn’t want to be tied down to a single job day after day, the same desk in the same office. And he’s too well-bred for most work that involves wandering from place to place doing odd jobs as they come. Fortunately, his wealthy aunt Dame Isabel Grayce has been willing to subsidize Roger living in the manner to which he’s accustomed, in exchange for being available for her every whim.

And while opera is not Roger’s thing, the av
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Roman de SF léger et accessible, Space Opéra a les défauts de ses qualités. En effet, les personnages prêtent à sourire et sont sympathiquement risibles avec leur vision anthropocentrée de la "grande musique" et le caractère messianique de leur épopée. Toutefois, ils peuvent justement apparaître rapidement comme un peu plat et sans saveur particulière face à l'enjeu de leur dessein (ou alors c'est clairement souhaité et je suis passé à côté). De même que le périple est mené à un rythme frénétiqu ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
J'ai bien aimé le theme et, comme d'habitude avec Jack Vance, les univers rencontrés.

L'histoire est centrée sur une troupe de spectacle traversant la galaxie pour répandre la culture musicale humaine dans celle-ci. Pour cela son organisatrice, une grande philanthrope; bien que stricte, compte sur l'appui de l'opéra, style de représentation qu'elle affectionne particulièrement. La troupe va rencontrer des éspèces différentes et vivra des aventures peuplées de rebondissements inattendus.
Madoc Ros
Robert Reese
A comedic novel in which Dame Isabel Grayce takes an Opera across the galaxy. This is a humorous work, but sadly just isn't as funny as vances later work. The plot somewhat mirrors the vastly superior Showboat World which I would recommend anyone read. This work on the other hand is best left to completionists who have finished with Vances better work, but still want a competent story that is faintly humorous. ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, sf-fantasy
Een verhaal uit de jaren zestig van de 20e eeuw, maar zeker niet gedateerd. Naar mijn idee is het achterliggende idee nog steeds geldig. Idealisme kan leiden tot vele problemen, maar ook hele mooie dingen opleveren. Zonder idealisme zou het allemaal een stuk saaier zijn. Aan de andere kant kan idealisme ook kortzichtigheid tot gevolg hebben.
Het verhaal is, zoals we dat gewend zijn van Jack Vance, vlot geschreven en het leest dan ook als een trein.
Marlie Verheggen
Het plot is wel vermakelijk, de oorspronkelijke titel Space Opera is wel heel letterlijk naar het genre Space Opera maar verder is het niet echt een goed uitgewerkt verhaal. Ik noem het een SF-romannetje.
Federico Kereki
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some places, it looks like what P G Wodehouse would have written, if he had been into Sci Fi !
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting light read, kind of high-society space adventure.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 Stars
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Perhaps the strangest book I’ve ever read, but wonderful writing.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Karaktärerna är löjliga, konceptet är genialt och handlingen är bara precis där. Den kallas för parodi men jag vill argumentera för att det är en renodlad rymdopera i all ära!
Jan 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gone, sci-fi
The title makes it sound like it could have been more humorous. The plot was mostly serious, and the subplots were not flushed out enough to be enticing, though they had good thoughts behind them.
Not one the best purse books, but good. The title doesn’t lie. There is a lot of opera in space. Although the cover might be a bit misleading.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I began "Space Opera" with great anticipation. After all, it was a Jack Vance story (an author I've greatly enjoyed in the past) and a mix of science fiction (which I like), classical music (which I also like), and Wodehousian humor (which I especially like)--complete with a lazy nephew, a rich, domineering aunt, misunderstandings, mix-ups, broken engagements, and a dash of silliness. I expected this to make my fiction favorites list. Alas, it didn't.

It would seem that Vance attempted to adopt n
Boy, it stings to give such a low rating to a Vance novel. This just isn't very good. Ultimately, its pointless. There is a unique and excellent idea, filled with possibility and creative potential, that is executed in a bland fashion, to no great result.

The idea forming the backbone of this novel is great. But the end product is a slow, tedious, dull read with sporadic moments of interesting scenes. I wanted so much more out of this novel; disappointing in the extreme.
Rog Harrison
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I probably bought this book in the early 1980s so this may be the fourth time that I have read it. The book was originally published in 1965 and I wonder if the author having heard some of his books described as space opera decided to write this novel about an opera company giving recitals on various planets. It's a humorous story with some larger than life characters though there are some serious parts. As ever the author is good at creating bizarre worlds and weird creatures. ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An average Jack Vance novel, although not without humorous moments. It is a picaresque tour through the Vancian space realms with a rogue hero. A central character (the rogue hero's aunt) reminds me of Margaret Dumont (from many of the Marx Brothers' films): she wants things to be "just so", but really doesn't know what's going on all around he. ...more
Florin Pitea
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining space opera about... traveling through space to perform opera on various exotic planets. For a more detailed presentation, please visit my blog here: ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Space Opera must be taken literal. A band of opera singers are travelling from star to star, do performances and find themselves in conflict with the natives. It's a very light read, but entertaining. ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the first Jack Vance novel you'll ever read and maybe not the best. It's still entertaining, quality Vance work and certainly worth the read. ...more
Stephen Simpson
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
It's a light, fast read, but it is amusing and up to the typical quality/standard of Vance. Definitely an under-appreciated work that is well worth reading ...more
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Aka John Holbrook Vance, Peter Held, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, John van See, Alan Wade.

The author was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California, first as a mining engineer, then majoring in physics and finally in journalism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he contributed widely to science fiction and fantasy magazines. His first novel, The Dying Earth , was published in 1950 to g

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