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Space Opera

(Space Opera #1)

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  14,251 ratings  ·  3,013 reviews

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 civiliza
Hardcover, UK Edition, 294 pages
Published October 4th 2018 by Corsair (first published April 10th 2018)
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Abigail Pankau All of the chapters end with complete sentences. Many of them are short though (e.g. Chapter 5 ends "He wept into his single pint." and Chapter 7 ends…moreAll of the chapters end with complete sentences. Many of them are short though (e.g. Chapter 5 ends "He wept into his single pint." and Chapter 7 ends "Point to Dani."), which is a contrast to the extremely long run-on sentences in most of the rest of the text.(less)
Mark Cofta In other words, teens will enjoy the book immensely!

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
2.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with my co-reviewer Jana's review). It took me nearly two months to read this Eurovision in space/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mashup, start to finish. My journey began with Anticipation, shifted to Befuddlement and Boredom, passed through Dismay, flirted with DNF, picked up again a few weeks later with Resolution, and ended with an overdose of Whimsy and Zaniness.

Oort St. Ultraviolet and his old bandmate Decibel Jones, the two rema
If I were to give this book a one word review, it would be:


This book, in my opinion tries WAY too hard. What it tries way too hard to do, I am not quite sure, but I was starting to get a headache trying to keep up with all the stuff it was throwing my way. It seemed like every sentence had to have a punchline. Every description came with a built in footnote story. It was delivered under what seemed like the influence of 1000 energy drinks. The fact that the content was so out there an
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Space Opera is Eurovision in space! The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the washed up lead singer of a band notorious for inventing "the entire electro-funk glamgrind genre."

With puns, pop-culture references, and some unapologetic observations about the human race, Valente escorts readers through the cosmos to the glittering, psychedelic, bizarre Metagalactic Grand Prix where alien races com
Life is beautiful. Life is stupid.

This book was all kinds of freaking wonderful, packed to the gills with glam and snark and a buttload of heart-wrenching brutal honesty wrapped up with a bow of sex, aliens, and rock and roll.

A lot of people are equating this with Hitchhiker's Guide, but in a lot of ways, it's better. And worse. The sheer amount of delightful rock-and-roll trivia and snark made me think of Rob Reid's Year Zero, but this was better. Think about all the aging Glam Rock stars who h
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is beautiful. And life is stupid.

Once upon a time on a small, watery, exciteable planet called Earth ... we find out that we are indeed not alone in the universe. On the contrary. The universe is teeming with all kinds of life (including the most improbable forms of FTL transportation) and after a horrible intergalactic war, every sentient species has agreed on a form of contest with which to entertain but also combat one another. And it is a way of discerning if a species is sentient o
Jul 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 52%

I tried this book on audio and physical copy, and although I wasn’t hating it, I found I wasn’t caring either. The tangents away from the plot and characters onto stories of aliens I will never remember, and glazed over during, felt like a sign that I should set this aside. This book seems to focus more on the writing, jokes, and over the top world than the characters or plot.

This is magical and odd in a way only Valente can do. But after having read a few of her books, I don’t think
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
So, one time I bought a bottle of Miracle-Gro for my houseplants. I used it once or twice and then stuck it in the back of a cupboard and forgot about it.
Years later, when I was moving house, I cleared out the cupboard and found the bottle, which had leaked somehow and the Miracle-Gro had actually *made the bottle itself grow*! There were all these baroque sort of globules growing fractally off the side of it. It was magical and also a bit disturbing.
This book reminded me of my miraculous Mira
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Humorous writing is not for everyone; senses of humor just tend to be too different and/or incompatible. This one hits my sense of humor square on: absurdist, wry and with a core of profundity that works very well with the lush writing that the author has on display elsewhere.

After the Sentience Wars interstellar civilization has implemented the Metagalactic Grand Prix song contest which all prospective sentient species must compete in and not come last. A new species that comes last is deemed t
2ish stars.

Funny in the way Mad Libs is funny. Random, nonsensical, fill-in-the-blank humor that is occasionally amusing because it's bound to be at some point by sheer volume of silliness. Valente is obviously pleased with herself, which draws another comparison to Mad Libs. It’s apparently much funnier to the person actually filling in the blanks with erratic strings of adjectives, adverbs, and made-up words than to the ones reading it.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery, excitable country called Italy, a soft-spoken, rather nice-looking gentleman by the name of Enrico Fermi was born into a family so overprotective that he felt compelled to invent the atomic bomb. Somewhere in between discovering various heretofore cripplingly socially anxious particles and transuranic elements and digging through plutonium to find the treat at the bottom of the nuclear box, he found the time
Charlie Anders
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is another book that I blurbed, so I'm just expanding on what I already said. This book is SO MUCH FUN. The bountiful silliness, and the space setting, will automatically inspire comparisons to Douglas Adams --- but this is really something different and outrageous, all its own. I found the story of a washed up pop group trying to save the world quite moving and sweet, and just lovely. ...more
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This book is what comes from combining refined sugar, cocaine, and a word processor. The comma to period ratio was about 100:1. They were frenzied, rabid sentences.

Never in this life would I have thought I’d be complaining about the writing from the author of The Refrigerator Monologues.

As far as the subject matter, if you liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet you’ll like this: hard agenda covered in soft confectionary science fiction.

DNF 41%
While I love Catherynne M. Valente's sentences for their cleverness, biting humour and commentary, I find that my reaction to her work really depends on whether I'm listening to it or reading it. I tend to struggle with her long and convoluted senteneces when I read her text, but just adore her work when I listen to it as I really like her wordplay.
I was concerned reading reviews for this book as people kept making glowing comments and references to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Even t
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stars-3-5, r2018, scifi

When I heard that Valente was creating a ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ in space with alien civilisations battling by song, I was totally sold, especially since I’d wanted to read something of hers for ages. The problem you see is that the author had to write it in a humouristic, tongue-in-cheek, tone and I don’t do well with that style. I still read it, enjoyed it to a certain extent, smiled a few times, recognised the writing skill, but never truly connected with the story or characters - and t
Life is beautiful and life is stupid. As long as you keep that in mind, and never give more weight to one than the other, the history of the galaxy, the history of a planet, the history of a person is a simple tune with lyrics flashed on-screen and a helpful, friendly bouncing disco ball of glittering, occasionally peaceful light to help you follow along.
Cue the music. Cue the dancers.
Cue tomorrow
I have alot of reasons to not to like this book. It took me over a month to finish it,
Apr 14, 2018 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, sci-fi, hugo
As much as I love Valente, I just can’t handle this book. So over the top and so not my thing. I did hate The Hitchhiker’s Guide, so I should have known...
Catherynne M. Valente is an incredible prose stylist. Exceedingly verbose, deliriously lyrical; she whips up the craziest, most beautiful images with her long-winded sentences. Reading her feels like drinking a strange and unusual cocktail, and you have to be ready to get dizzy when you crack her books open: it’s all part of the fun. But it is not for everyone… The synopsis of “Eurovision in space meets Douglas Adams with a David Bowie-like protagonist” was not something I could have resisted fr ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like being at the best cocktail party--EVER!

So funny, clever, over-the-top, philosophical Eurovision/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that had hints of This is Spinal Tap and cameos by:

How you ask. Simple. After nearly annihilating the universe, the varying factions created the Grand Prix, a song competition. Humans are out to prove their sentience. Sounds easy? Not so fast, grasshopper.
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are a mostly adult SFF + YA reader like me, it doesn't matter which books you've read - this will be one of the weirdest you've ever found. It's Eurovision in space, against aliens, and if the humans lose, they will be exterminated.

This is the kind of book that doesn't make sense, but it also does. It's so over-the-top it's almost exhausting, it's comedy, it's so alien - but it's also a very human, very serious book. Its main themes are what it means to be human, whether human life is red
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Space Opera is Catherynne Valente at her most creatively and exuberantly unreadable. It’s a slick, holographic tale that I bounced off so hard and so repeatedly that it kind of started to hurt. Reading this book is like being the only sober person at a party where everyone else is high out of their minds on magic mushrooms. Like trying to make sense of the output of Hamlet-typing monkeys on LSD.

It’s so outre that I feel bad comparing it to nuts, cuckoo birds, and batshit, all of which are very r
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Okay, wow. What a book!

This was such a wonderful, wild ride. Valente's writing is gorgeous, per usual.

The middle portion of this dragged a bit for me, but I also think this is the kind of book where I'll pick it up to reread those passages that I initially thought of as boring. EVERYTHING in this book feel inventive and fun and silly and gravely serious all at the same time.

We flip between two stories, so to speak. One is the story of Decibal Jones and the Absolute Zeros, who have been selected
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The first line of the description for Space Opera likens it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I think it’s an apt comparison because the influence of Douglas Adams clearly shows (and the author even acknowledges it). This is the kind of book that will make you simultaneously laugh and shake your head in amazement wondering how anyone could have come up with such crazy ideas. Considering how my first experience
I am a big fan of Catherynne Valente, but she's one of those writers with a very distinctive style that does not always hit the right notes for me. To use what is possibly the most unlikely equivalence of all, I will compare her to Cormac McCarthy — sometimes his long, run-on punctuationless walls of text evoke the natural world and the brutality of humankind in an incomparable, breathtaking fashion, and sometimes you just want to throw one of his books at the wall and say "Learn what a comma is ...more
Peter Tillman
With 916 reviews here already, I will be brief. As always, read the head-blurb first. The reviews are, well, mixed. I’m in the middle.

It’s a *very unusual* first-contact story, well-done, imaginative…. It really is SF. It held my attention until the last few chapters, when the silliness and jungle-rules of the Grand Prix du Galaxie got to be too much. Non-spoller alert: the book ends well, with sweetness & light and even less credibility.

I *loved * Capo the cat, who got a partial Uplift in the
May 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, dnf
DNF @ 15%

One of the things I hate doing when it comes to reading is dnf-ing it, I keep myself hopeful at first when I don't like the plot, character, writing style etc... But most of the time when I dislike a book from the beginning it stays like that till the very end. So, I decided not to torture myself, not even bother skipping to the end and just dnf it.

The premise of this book intrigued me from the very beginning, and since it was described as being like Eurovision set in space, of course t
❀ iro ❀
This sounds fabulous !

Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

This one is really difficult to rate. It isn't as bad as my rating suggests - if you are in the right mood for it. There were times that were wonderfully funny and had me laughing out loud. Everything felt extremely familiar Douglas Adams like with 2/3 of a luckless glitter band that has to represent Earth in an intergalactic Grand Prix d'Eurovision and mustn't come last to avoid the destruction of their home planet.

But the crazy, very wordy, funny writing was often so over the top and
Rachel (rachandbooks)
"Life is beautiful and life is stupid."

Ohhhhh Cat Valente, how I adore your writing. This is the fourth book by her I've read and I've adored ALL of them. I understand that she writes niche things, but I love it. Who would have thought that a book about Eurovision in space would become a favorite of mine? Well, I didn't, but because Valente was writing it, I had a hunch I would admire it.

Space Opera begins on little planet Earth, where the people inhabiting it find out that there is life outside
'How else are you supposed to deal with people who like terrible things? Hit them with a shovel till they stop, that's how. That should be the thirtieth Unkillable Fact, I tell you what.'


Space Opera is definitely the most bizarre and batshit crazy book I've ever read and I loved every minute of it. Humor combined with social commentary (the objective of which is to way more than just roast but I love that it does roast) combined with all the flaws and a li
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Hugo & Nebula Awa...: May 2022 -- Space Opera -- No spoilers 41 30 Jul 17, 2022 01:58AM  
Hugo & Nebula Awa...: May 2022 -- Space Opera -- spoilers ok 3 19 May 08, 2022 06:13AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Space Opera (ISBN: 9781472115072) 2 11 Jan 02, 2022 08:03AM  
Robinson Library'...: Book Club canceled for March 1 4 Mar 18, 2020 09:00PM  
Robinson Library'...: A Sequel?!!! 5 11 Mar 13, 2020 07:31AM  

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Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam ...more

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